FMI -- The Food Industry Association and the National Grocers Association (NGA), the national trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, gave their endorsement to COVID-19 relief package released by a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers. The package consists of two parts: $748 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), nutrition programs, unemployment compensation and other funding; and a more controversial $160 billion add-on of state and local funding combined with a liability protection provision.
“FMI applauds the work of the bipartisan group of senators, and the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House of Representatives, for reaching an agreement on COVID-19 legislation that recognizes the importance of liability relief along with aid to state and local governments," said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of the Arlington, Virginia-based trade association. "On behalf of FMI’s member companies, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how critical it is that this final emergency relief package of 2020 include limited, temporary liability protections. These liability protections acknowledge the extraordinary efforts made by the food industry and its employees to follow government guidance to keep associates and customers safe during this national emergency."
“This is an encouraging sign after months of deadlock,” noted Chris Jones, SVP, government relations and counsel at Arlington, Virginia-based NGA. “Although the proposal isn’t perfect, that is the nature of compromise, and we are particularly encouraged by the strong liability protections. On behalf of independent grocers across the U.S., we urge Congress to act quickly to protect independent grocers from frivolous lawsuits.”
Among NGA membership’s top priorities for COVID relief are tax relief for essential front-line grocery workers; limits on liability exposure for essential businesses; and bolstering federal nutrition programs to feed food-insecure Americans. The association reaffirmed these priorities in a recent letter to House and Senate leaders.
“The independent grocery community appreciates your ongoing leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we stand ready to continue our work in ensuring that Americans’ most basic needs are met during this unprecedented time,” wrote NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara in the letter.