Meeting with representatives in Washington D.C. builds relationships and shapes industry-affecting regulation. In 2018, the NAMA Fly-In delivered on both, showing the continuation of such an advocacy event is well worth the efforts.
"We had a great Fly-In this year," said Jason Eberstein, director, state and federal affairs, for NAMA. "We continued that drumbeat of excitement we have seen in past years."
Industry members from more than 35 states, nearly 300 attendees, met with a large cross section of Congress. Three outcomes really stand out this year, according to Eberstein, and illustrate when can happen when an industry visits Capital Hill.
One of the positive outcomes of the Fly-In came when a member of Congress reached out to the industry on what to ask about currency. When Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) found out he was to sit on a hearing regarding redesigning currency, he thought of NAMA. He asked for input on what to ask and verify during a hearing centered on redesigning currency. "The power behind that is that you have a member of Congress asking a government official questions, for the record...to ensure everything is compatible [with our industry technology] and that it is understood what impact it could have for the industry," Eberstein explained. This proactive communication is tremendous and a tribute to the efforts in advocacy by industry members.
Multiple follow up visits
Another result of the 2018 Fly-In was a number of local visits. Industry members extended the invitation for a visit to their facility while meeting with staffers on the hill in order for the Congress members to fully understand the business and how it impacts the local economy. From July through early October, at least four NAMA members have been visited by Congressional offices at their facilities because of these invitations. "It wouldn't have happened without the Fly-In." Eberstein said. "It's one thing to be briefed on a business, but its another to see a commissary or warehouse in action -- that's powerful," he added. "A member of Congress will remember that."
Calorie disclosure support
During the Fly-In, one of the big issues set to affect the industry was the proposed calorie disclosure regulations presented by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "We asked Fly-In attendees while they were on the hill to request that members of Congress not only support the FDA's proposed regulations, but show their support by signing a letter and sending it off to the FDA to be filed with the comment section," Eberstein said. "The FDA received the letter two weeks ago with 12 signatures from members of Congress, from both House and Senate, across the country." This is more proof that engaging with Congress is impactful and helpful to the industry. "Operators can now be certain they are meeting regulations, consumers aren't confused and the product manufacturers have sufficient time to modify their labeling without incurring additional, unnecessary costs," Eberstein added.
Each Fly-In is an opportunity to meet Congress members and build relationships that will have a positive outcome. A strong and continued presence year after year produces results. Don't miss the 2019 event.