President Trump strategically selected Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” for his first dance at the inaugural ball, and the lyrics to that song could not be more telling of what was to come — Trump certainly started his presidency unlike any other commander in chief before him, doing things his own way. As we soon all came to see, the Trump administration wasted no time in implementing executive orders within his first week in office, with a federal hiring freeze and a hold on new regulations, along with plans to build a wall at the Mexican border in full effect.
As Americans, we all undoubtedly have our own opinions about the state of our country, but how will his current decisions affect us as an industry? The answer to that question will likely remain unclear for the immediate future, but if his first implementations are any indication of what’s to come, we can certainly anticipate a shake up that will produce a domino effect, stemming from federal law to manufacturers, suppliers, and all the way down to consumers.
For the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) — a department within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one of two federal agencies responsible for food safety efforts — the hiring freeze has caused delays in the pathology lab’s food testing processes because of decreased staff. FSIS is responsible for properly testing meat, poultry, processed egg products and catfish (1). USDA, like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also experiencing similar effects because of the 60-day hiring freeze, not to mention the regulatory hold, which could likely impact the NDI draft guidance. The final ruling in the Nutritional Facts Label and how the Food Safety Modernization Act is implemented are also in limbo.
In a proactive move, FDA offered guidance to the food industry so that organizations can properly create their own set of best practices. You can read “5 Steps Toward Working with FDA on Human and Animal Food Guidance Documents” in its entirety on FDA’s website.
This time of uncertainty will continue to play out for months and months to come; in the meantime it is crucial that we all remain educated and aware when it comes to our rights and resources.
Avocados (and Cerveza) for Thought
As a prospective solution to the burning question “Who is going to pay for the border wall?” President Trump is considering a 20% tax on all Mexican imports. This, he’s said is his way of getting Mexico to pay for the wall, so that the U.S. doesn’t have to. So what does this have to do with your consumers? Higher import costs equal higher costs at the grocery store for your shoppers. Just to put this into perspective, according to USDA, Mexico is the biggest exporter of fresh produce to the U.S., accounting for almost 70% of our vegetable imports and nearly 40% of our fruits (2). More specifically, Mexico is responsible for 93% of our hass avocados (3), while we import 78% percent of Mexico’s overall avocado production (4). What’s more, the U.S. imported $1.3 million worth of beer from Mexico, in 2016 alone. And did we forget where tequila comes from?
While President Trump is doing things his way, the effects of his actions are coming our way. WF
Manufacturers, if you missed the deadline to have your company listing updated in time for our May directory issue, don’t forget that you can always access your profile and update it online. And retailers, don’t forget to use our source book to find the most up-to-date natural products industry listings.
- “Federal hiring freeze disrupts USDA’s food safety testing,” http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2017/01/federal-hiring-freeze-disrupts-usdas-food-safety-testing/#.WJO4JlMrLcv, Accessed 2/2/17.
- “U.S. Food Imports,” https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/us-food-imports.aspx#.UV2E5Tf0dA5, Accessed 2/2/17.
- Hass Avocado Board, https://www.hassavocadoboard.com/, Accessed 2/2/17.
- “Mexican Avocado Exports Continue to Grow,” USDA Agricultural Service GAIN Report (2014).
- “Sales of the leading imported beer brands of the United States in 2016,” https://www.statista.com/statistics/188728/top-imported-beer-brands-in-the-united-states/, Accessed 2/2/17