The Food Industry Association (FMI), the National Grocers Association (NGA), the National Retail Federation (NRF) and other retail trade groups united Wednesday in their efforts to welcome and outline industry priorities for the new Biden administration.
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin said her group looks forward to working with the newly elected president, vice president and members of Congress on issues impacting the food industry — their customers and communities — and ensuring the voice of the food industry is represented authentically on Capitol Hill, to the White House and throughout the executive branch.
“While 2020 has presented a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, the food industry stands ready as essential partners to not only provide food and household products now, but also to serve as safe, convenient places for customers to receive the COVID-19 vaccines in the weeks and months ahead. It is essential that supermarket pharmacies and the broader food industry be part of the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination effort," Sarasin said.
Both the National Association of Chain Drug Stores and the American Pharmacists Association released statements in praise of Biden's vaccine expansion plans.
“We greatly appreciate President-elect Biden’s thoughtful and determined remarks and his pledge to ‘fully activate the pharmacies across this country to get the vaccinations into more arms as quickly as possible,” said NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson. “As we have indicated, pharmacies can meet the demand for 100 million vaccinations in one month, assuming that level of vaccine supply is available. Ninety percent of Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy.”
The president and CEO of NGA, Greg Ferrara, outlined the legislative priorities of association members in a letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris. NGA priorities outlined in the letter include employee tax relief, liability protection, assistance with accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits for online purchases, credit card fees, the minimum wage and enforcement of antitrust laws.
"Many grocers have faced frivolous litigation simply for remaining open during the pandemic. America’s community grocers, which are considered 'critical infrastructure' by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, need protections from unnecessary liability exposure, so long as they have worked in best faith to comply with federal, state and local guidance. Independent grocers are the cornerstones of local communities and the engines for economic activity nationwide," Ferrara said.
Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation welcomed the new administration by urging Congress and President Biden to reform the nation’s immigration system. Among other steps, the groups said participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program should be allowed to remain in the country.
“America’s retailers support practical, comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the needs of both employers and law-abiding immigrants in today’s 21st century economy,” NRF SVP for Government Relations David French said. “The current immigration system is broken and in need of bipartisan reform. Whether it’s Dreamers who came here as children or highly skilled workers, immigrants have always played a key role in our nation’s success and we welcome the contributions they make to our communities and economy.”
Biden is expected to announce a sweeping immigration plan this week.
NRF has led the retail industry’s support of immigration reform for years. NRF filed a friend-of-the-court brief in 2019 asking the Supreme Court to uphold the DACA program, and last year was among several business organizations that filed a joint lawsuit opposing the suspension of new nonimmigrant visas.
Also on the DACA front, Brian Dodge, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), issued a statement saying that the contributions of DACA "dreamers" are "particularly evident as we fight COVID-19, as Dreamers are among those helping to keep stores open, stocked and safe. These hardworking individuals are part of the social fabric of America and part of the retail family; they are our friends and neighbors. RILA implores Congress and the Biden Administration to seek an immediate and long-term remedy to address the legal status of DACA participants.”