Fi: Changes over the last few years have shaken some confidence in NPA. How do you plan to recover that confidence, and what are your goals for NPA?
John Shaw: NPA has never been stronger. NPA continues to move aggressively, in Washington, DC, and all across the US, on behalf of its members. This trade association has an elite staff that I’m proud to lead as we move into new areas on the legislative front to preserve the rights of our suppliers and retailers to provide consumers access to this important industry.
The members at NPA are expressing confidence in us. Membership is our No. 1 priority as we move forward, not only to expand, but also to maintain current members and make sure their needs are being met. Over the last few months we’ve been able to defeat Senator Durbin’s amendment on the floor of the Senate. We worked with the FDA to recall their NDI guidance, and we will continue to work with FDA, along with other trade associations, to accomplish a more reasonable set of rulemaking procedures.
Fi: What impact will Sen. Hatch’s departure have on your goals?
JS: NPA is always moving forward to tackle the legislative and public policy initiatives that we feel are harmful. If it harms the suppliers or the retailers we will move aggressively to meet those challenges.
In order to work with future leaders in Congress we are developing relationships and expanding our membership base with the caucus in Congress. Obviously Senators Hatch and Harkin are leaders in our industry, and the NPA is looking toward new and current leadership to make sure that our legislative needs are met.
Fi: Media outreach has never been much of focus for the NPA, although negative media coverage continues to escalate. Do you intend to change that?
JS: NPA will continue to move aggressively forward in the arenas of traditional media, social media and new media. We’ve had great successes in those endeavors and we intend to continue working with our members to ensure that our message regarding the products that we make that millions of American consumers use, that the natural brand, is defended aggressively in the public arena, and privately in the halls of Washington D.C. NPA, for the last few months has been able to continue to push our members’ agenda in the public media space and we will continue to do so.
Fi: Recently FDA has been being more aggressively critical of our industry in the news. Any theories as to their intentions?
JS: Some of the comments from FDA’s leadership recently have been unfortunate; however, we intend to continue to take the high ground and work constructively with FDA leadership as well as members of Congress to accomplish appropriate public policy goals.
Fi: As a relatively new industry member with a fresh perspective, what do you think we need to do to preserve our viability into the future?
JS: It’s extremely important to be proactive rather than reactive. I think that, in a lot of circumstances, other trade groups are functioning on a reactive basis where the NPA, being able to represent both the supplier and the retailer, we get to be proactive. When we sit back and look at some of the debates in the media, like the health-care debate, there are opportunities.
Fi: Where did you grow up and what do you miss most about it?
JS: I was born in Brooklyn, New York, in Canarsi. It was a wonderful opportunity as a child to live the urban lifestyle. But when my parents moved away from Brooklyn to Virginia I really discovered my passion for the political process. I’ve always had an admiration for those involved in the political debate because when you get out there and make a statement you are putting yourself, as a person, on the line. I think that a lot of politicians, the good ones at least, really try to do their best to create public policy that benefits citizens. As the leader of NPA it’s my intention to work with those politicians to ensure that the public policy they create not only benefits all Americans, but also helps our members increase the health and wellness of all Americans through their business.