FEBRUARY 2020 WASHINGTON REPORT
“Impeachment hysteria” subsided this month after the Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump on two counts offered by House Democrats. It was quickly replaced with “primary panic” after Iowa’s Democratic party botched the state’s app-based caucus, setting off alarm bells as the country heads into a technology-packed election season. Though three of the top five Democratic contenders had to remain in Washington for the duration of the impeachment trial, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was able to pull off slim wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttegieg placed second and past front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden performed poorly in both contests.
As primary season continues, Capitol Hill Republicans coordinate with the White House to present legislative plans for healthcare and infrastructure reform—issues that poll very highly with registered voters. In addition, Washington gave resounding applause as President Trump signed the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement into law after more than a year of partisan negotiation. Read on to learn the next steps in USMCA’s implementation.
In keeping with their party’s objectives, this month House Democrats laid the groundwork for an investigation into President Trump’s involvement with DOJ’s criminal case against former advisor Roger Stone, and put the union-boosting PRO Act to a floor vote. PRO Act supporters swarmed House offices on the days leading up to the vote. To highlight the PRO Acts potential negative impact, IBA joined the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which objected to several provisions in the bill. Though the PRO Act passed with a few GOP votes, it isn’t likely to receive committee consideration in the Republican-controlled Senate. Virtually every Democratic presidential candidate insists they’ll push for it to be enacted if elected.
As Congress stays mired in partisan turmoil, IBA continues to make inroads into several regulatory and state projects. After years of outreach from IBA and other program suppliers, USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service announced a proposed rule to modernize and provide flexibility to school meals. New Jersey’s aggressive worker classification bill died at the end of its lame-duck session in late January, thanks in part to IBA’s committee testimony and ongoing outreach in Trenton. IBA members will hear a full IBA policy update during our Spring Membership Meeting in April. View your meeting invitation below.
REGISTRATION OPEN FOR IBA’S SPRING MEETING IN SCOTTSDALE
IBA is pleased to announce its Spring Membership Meeting will be Sunday April 19th from 8-11:00 am at The Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. Join bakers and allied members at this special industry-wide event, in conjunction with the ABA annual conference (separate registration required).
Active IBA members, their families, prospective members and guests can register now for FREE!
The meeting will start with a hot breakfast, followed by a guest political speaker, who will highlight Arizona's key role as a battleground state in the 2020 presidential and congressional elections. The IBA team will then give a detailed update of our advocacy projects in Washington and beyond. IBA members are encouraged to bring their questions about key issues in baking.
Our regulatory update will include:
Labor & Employment - state worker classification and multiemployer pension reform update
Nutrition Policy - pending changes to school nutrition and the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Labeling - ensure compliance with the Nutrition Facts Panel and Bionegineered Food rules
Baking Industry - wheat checkoff and commodity markets update
Please register for the meeting using the event portal on IBA's website. If your company is interested in giving a 15-minute member-spotlight presentation, please indicate so on your registration form or contact IBA staff. Thanks to our sponsors, IBA meetings remain free of charge for members, their families and guests.
We look forward to seeing you in Scottsdale!
IBA PRESIDENT NICK PYLE TO HOST REGULATORY SEMINAR AT IABE
The Independent Bakers Association is excited to partner with the International Artisan Bakery Expo, March 31-April 2 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, for their sophomore show. Co-located with the International Pizza Expo, IABE is the only national baking industry show of year that spotlights the growing artisan baking sector. This unique show allows bakers to research new equipment and services while learning the industry’s best production and safety practices all under one roof!
IBA President Nick Pyle will present an educational session - Untangling Today's Regulatory "Red Tape" - for bakers and allied attendees on Wednesday April 1 at 11:15 am. We encourage IBA members to register now for this unique and useful program! Use code “ibabaker” for discounted registration.
USDA ISSUES PROPOSED RULES TO STREAMLINE SCHOOL NUTRITION FRAMEWORK
As part of his campaign to increase flexibility in child nutrition programs and reduce food waste, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and the USDA Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) published two proposed rules. One modernizes the Summer Feeding Program. The other offers several proposals affecting the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. The rule also requests public input to address an issue IBA continues to speak out against, the reimbursement ban on "grain-based desserts" in the Child & Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). CACFP is often used to feed children who attend pre-kindergarten under the same roof as K-5th graders.
Since the last major child nutrition update in 2016, FNS heard feedback from program administrators and suppliers that the Obama-era rules were too strict. Within months of taking office, Secretary Perdue responded by issuing rules to provide some flexibility--a slow-down of the sodium reduction timeline, a rescission of the ban on flavored milks and an ease of the whole grain requirement from 100% to 80%. Throughout this time, IBA was outspoken about the need for similar action regarding the grain-based dessert restriction in CACFP. Since the reimbursement ban went into effect, program administrators reported a drastic drop in the number of shelf-stable snack options they could serve to pre-kindergarten students, as well as children and adults in daycare under the program. IBA met with FNS staff in 2017 and with USDA Deputy Undersecretary Brandon Lipps in 2019 regarding the need for flexibility.
In this proposed rule, FNS seeks public input on whether to ease the grain-based dessert restriction in CACFP by realigning the ounce allotment with that used in school lunch and school breakfast. IBA is working with a coalition of allies, including trade associations, research groups, product suppliers and school representatives to comment in support of making the change. The comment period ends March 23, 2020. We encourage all IBA members who supply to schools to reach out to your school district contacts and encourage they comment in support of adding flexibility and consistency between CACFP and school meals. Please contact Andrea Hart by replying to this email if you would like to provide input for IBA's comment or if you'd like to connect IBA to your school district contacts.
IBA HELPS STALL DISRUPTIVE LABOR BILLS IN NEW JERSEY; LAUNCHES EFFORT IN NEW YORK
The Independent Bakers Association is pleased to report two troubling bills introduced during the New Jersey legislature's lame-duck session died at the session's end on January 21. The corresponding Senate and Assembly bills were poised to up-end longstanding worker classification laws and create uncertainty for bakers across the state. Though each bill initially moved quickly through its respective committee, IBA was on-site in Trenton to actively support key amendments that would preserve the business relationships between wholesale bakers and the independent distributors who sell their products to retailers.
IBA testified before the Senate Labor Committee in December, highlighting the baking industry's perspective. Of the more than 25 individuals who provided testimony at the hearing, IBA's witness was the lone speaker on behalf of the wholesale baking industry supply chain. Witnesses and committee members acknowledged the confusion and burden from the recent California worker classification statute, which is currently held up in litigation. IBA and other witnesses urged the Senate to slow down the legislative process and avoid the following the same path.
IBA Chair Dan Mulloy of 151 Foods in Bellmawr, NJ praised the legislature for taking the bakers' concerns seriously. "The new California law isn't realistic--I'm pleased to see our lawmakers did not follow suit. Protecting the independent contractor business model is crucial for bakers in New Jersey and beyond." Dan said. Understanding that this issue could easily rear its ugly head again, IBA will continue to visit with lawmakers and monitor for new bills as New Jersey enters its full legislative session.
In response to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's direct threat to the independent contractor model in his State of the State address this month, IBA turned its attention to addressing budgetary and legislative activity in the state. The governor's budget proposals include creating a task force to address “the conditions of employment and classification of workers in the modern economy of on-demand workers connected to customers via the internet."
Though the proposal relates to online marketplace, an established task-force could morph into a roving regulatory body. Today, IBA declared to the state ethics board its intent to engage during the legislative session. Andrea Hart of IBA's Government Affairs team will visit Albany in the coming weeks to educate lawmakers on the wholesale baking supply chain. IBA members with a presence in New York may join our NY State Working Group by contacting Andrea Hart at email@example.com.
IBA APPLAUDS PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SIGNING OF USMCA
On January 29, President Donald Trump signed into law the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, finalizing Washington's role in pushing the agreement to the finish line. The signing ceremony marks a tremendous step forward in the years-long re-negotiation process, first proposed by the Trump Administration in 2017.
At the White House signing ceremony, President Trump highlighted that the deal will boost America's GDP by over 1% and will bolster North American countries as they negotiate future trade deals, including with China and the European Union.
IBA is pleased that Congress and the president were able to ratify the updated trade agreement which will benefit American farmers and food manufacturers by easing trade restrictions and addressing key issues such as labor protections to intellectual property rules.
Canada's legislature must still vote to ratify the agreement, and all three countries must take steps to implement their necessary obligations before the deal can take effect. The most challenging will be Mexico's compliance with its labor commitments, one of House Democrats major negotiation priorities during congressional ratification.
Regardless of the tasks at hand, IBA and other pro-business groups across the country join together in praising the deal. Throughout the negotiation and ratification process, more than a thousand trade associations, state and local chambers of commerce, agricultural economists and independent businesses unified in supporting a modern, market-based agreement as an alternative to prohibitive tariffs. Specifically, the baking industry will benefit from USMCA's minor but notable increase in U.S. access to Canadian sugar and sugar-containing ingredients.
IBA will continue to monitor the final steps of the USCMA ratification and implementation process.
FDA RELEASES ADDITIONAL NFP GUIDANCE FOR SMALLER FOOD MANUFACTURERS
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration published an extensive Compliance Guide today for small entities subject to the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) update. The final guidance document is directed at manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales.
The final NFP rule, which was published on May 27, 2016, amends the labeling regulations for foods and dietary supplements to provide updated nutrition information on the label to help consumers maintain healthy dietary practices. Small food manufacturers must comply with the rule by January 1, 2021.
The Compliance Guide restates in plain language the revisions made to 21 CFR 101.9, 101.30, and 101.36.
FDA’s guidance documents, including this guidance, do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities. Instead, guidances describe the agency's current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited. The use of the word should in guidance means that something is suggested or recommended, but not required.
We encourage IBA members to reach out to Andrea Hart with any NFP questions.
IBA PRAISES SENATE INTRODUCTION OF MODERN WORKER EMPOWERMENT ACT
The Independent Bakers Association applauds U.S. Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for their leadership in introducing the Modern Worker Empowerment Act. A companion to an identical bill introduced in the House of Representatives in July, the bill will address the outdated worker classification standard under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The bills come as a response to the Democratic-sponsored PRO Act, which alters the FLSA worker classification standard so it mirrors California's radical new wage and hour legislation--which heightens the standard for classification as a legitimate independent contractor. The National Law Review Journal recently praised the Modern Worker Empowerment Act as a better path forward than the PRO Act.
In a letter to the bill's champion, IBA President Nick Pyle expressed support for the bill and provided further perspective on its potential benefits to the baking industry. We encourage all IBA members to contact their legislator to express support for the Modern Worker Empowerment Act. The IBA government relations team is available to facilitate your outreach. Contact Andrea Hart to learn more.