Taking centre stage in the new campaign is a new web page focused on the new Congress at www.npainfo.org/freshmen. The web page allows NPA members and industry supporters to access guides on effective communication with legislators, including writing letters and discussing legislation. It also provides tips on how to develop a relationship with elected officials and schedule a meeting with them.
John Gay, the organisation’s executive director and CEO told NutraIngredients-USA that the aims of the initiative were: “Education and engagement.”
“Our new site is a way for our members to engage their elected officials more easily,” said Gay. “In the long-term, we want the Members of Congress to understand our industry, and to call upon NPA and our members when issues arise that might affect us.”
As part of its campaign, NPA is hosting the 14th Annual Natural Products Day in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Hundreds of retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and supporters are expected to visit congressional offices to talk to senators, representatives, and their staffs about key legislation that may affect the natural products industry.
A good measure of the campaign’s success will be attendance at Natural Products Day, said Gay. “There is no better way to deliver a message than a constituent meeting a member of Congress face to face. On the whole, the starting and building of relationships can take a long time to bear fruit, but it’s well worth it,” he said.
Federal regulators are likely to test the limits of their existing powers since, given the election results, additional authority is unlikely to be granted by the new Congress; predicts NPA. “We support their actions aimed at getting criminals off the market, such as those illegally marketing products that they wrongfully claim are dietary supplements,” said Gay. “It is a problem, however, if they target the legitimate industry, especially if they go beyond current law to do so.”
“Two good examples (of this) last year, were the McCain bill, which would have taken most dietary supplements off the market; and the FTC powers measure which would have granted the agency sweeping authority to write rules that we believe would have harmed the good actors in our industry,” said Gay.
He particularly warned of bills that might pick up elements of the McCain bill, such as a pre-market approval mandate.
The NPA has pledged to reach out to other key political opinion-formers – not just new members. “We also will be meeting with the new members of the most important Congressional committees, such as the Senate HELP Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee, as well as with new Congressional staff,” said Gay.
Meanwhile, the newly-elected and re-elected members of Congress were sworn into office on Wednesday January 5th on Capitol Hill.
The 112th Congress has an unusually large freshman class of more than 100 new members. About one in five members of Congress are new to his or her role.