The group’s advocacy event, dubbed the Natural Products Day, took place this year on April 17 and 18. NPA said that members representing 27 states showed up for this year’s iteration of the annual event. That representation is up slightly from last year, when the organization said 25 states were represented.
The event kicked off with a reception on April 17, followed by a breakfast meeting/training session for attendees on April 18. At the breakfast meeting, Reps. Darin LaHood, R-IL and Dave Brat, R-VA made some remarks. The training session gave attendees an outline on how to best inform their elected officials. The advocacy training prepared attendees for a successful lobby day, providing the necessary tools to build strong relationships with their lawmakers.
Saying so long to Hatch
Among the meetings was one between NPA members from Utah and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT. Hatch is retiring from the Senate after four decades of public service. Hatch, along with former Sen. Tom Harkin, D-IA, were the original sponsors of the industry’s foundational legislation: the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).
NPA laid out a number of priority for members to pursue in their individual meetings with lawmakers and staff members. They touched on questions of how the purchase of supplements might be supported with federal and state health dollars and questions of regulation. Among the specific talking points were:
- Inclusion of dietary supplements in HSA/FSA
- Inclusion of multivitamins in the Women, Infant, Children (WIC) program
- Regulation of new dietary ingredients
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) overreach.
Future of advocacy
NPA is among the dietary supplement industry stakeholders that are wrestling with what advocacy might look like in the post Hatch/Harkin era. The next election cycle promises to be tumultuous, with a number of seats expected to change hands, meaning existing relationships might get thrown out with that bathwater. Already two recently engaged advocates for the industry, Reps. Jared Polis, D-CO and Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, have left or have signaled their intent to leave Congress. Polis is a front runner for the Democratic nomination for the governor’s race in Colorado while Chaffetz resigned his seat last year.
NPA president and CEO, Dan Fabricant, PhD, said continued attention and input from industry is necessary in this unsettled period. The industry may not be able to look forward to another period of decades of steady, reliable support from the likes of a Harkin or a Hatch, lawmakers whose seats were guaranteed almost in perpetuity.
“As longtime champions like Senator Orrin Hatch move towards retirement this year, it is especially important for us to stay vigilant and maintain our relationships with elected officials,” he said.