Snack Food Association members hit the ‘Hill’
by Shane Whitaker
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WASHINGTON — Phil Gusmano of Better Made Snack Foods, Detroit, urged Michigan Congressman Gary Peters to not restrict purchases for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, when they meet July 17. Mr. Gusmano and about 30 other members of the Snack Food Association (S.F.A.) met with members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives as well as their key legislative assistants as part of the association’s annual Legislative Summit.
In 80 separate meetings across Capitol Hill, S.F.A. members urged lawmakers to consider the importance of the snack food industry when making decisions that could affect the success of their companies and the well-being of their employees.
“Government limiting people’s choices on what foods they can buy is not what we are about as a country,” Mr. Gusmano told Mr. Peters. Preserving purchasing choice by SNAP recipients was just one of more than a half dozen of issues S.F.A. members addressed during the meetings.
Other issues they discussed included support of legislation requiring a secret ballot election to certify or decertify a union, support for protection of independent contractor status of small business drivers who deliver snack foods and support for limiting the impact of biofuels policy on foods costs.
When meeting with Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Rich Rudolph of Rudolph Foods Co., Lima, Ohio, pointed out that corn being diverted from the snack industry to make ethanol has impacted the industry.
“We know it’s not efficient (to use corn to make fuel),” he said. “It’s taking a major part of the whole food cycle, and we are subsidizing it.”
Michael Anderson of Snyder’s-Lance, Charlotte, N.C., discussed the possibility that independent contractor protections in federal law may be eliminated via tax reform or regulation during a meeting with Senator Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania.
“(Independent contractors are) a go-to-market strategy for all of us,” Dan Morgan of Snyder’s-Lance told Mr. Toomey, stressing the importance of independent contractors to the industry. “There are 3,000 people across the country who are a very large part of our business. They are incorporated, have employees and have put real money on the line to have their own businesses. This would turn that upside down. Aside from the impact on our businesses, if an individual makes that choice, it is unfair for the I.R.S. to say, ‘You should be an employee.’”
The senator thanked them for putting the issue on his radar.
“I’m not in favor of the I.R.S. telling you what your business practices should be,” Mr. Toomey responded.
Before heading to Capitol Hill, S.F.A. members were briefed by Jim McCarthy, president of the S.F.A., and S.F.A.’s legislative and regulatory consultants as well as representatives of the Business Industry Political Action Committee, who discussed the political landscape.