WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 21, 2005) – On Tuesday, April 12, 2005, more than 165 natural product industry stakeholders from 37 states and the District of Columbia gathered on Capitol Hill for NNFA’s 8th annual lobbying event, Natural Foods Day. The attendance of participants from across the country shattered last year’s record attendance of more than 120. NNFA members representing every component of the natural products industry educated members of Congress and their aides about NNFA’s legislative and regulatory priorities, each of which would help increase consumers’ access to—and awareness of—safe, effective, and affordable natural products.
“This year's event was NNFA’s most successful lobbying effort to date,” said NNFA Executive Director and CEO David Seckman. “With a variety of issues that pose both opportunities and challenges for our industry, participants effectively conveyed to our nation’s leaders the impact of these issues, in particular, the importance of preserving and implementing DSHEA [the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994].”
The event consisted of an early morning briefing session and breakfast before participants adjourned to attend pre-arranged meetings with various congressional leaders. The day concluded with a reception honoring NNFA’s Congressional Champions.
At the morning session, political insiders, including NNFA’s lobbyists updated the participants on the industry’s most pressing legislative issues and provided tips on how to communicate the industry’s priorities effectively. In addition, attendees were addressed by key government officials, including Paul M. Coates, director of the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements; Kathy Kulkarni, legislative director for Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.); and Eric Juzenas, former Agriculture Committee counsel for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Attendees then spent the afternoon in meetings with lawmakers and key staff members from their districts and states. During these meetings, the constituents asked members of Congress to support Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald’s (D-Calif.) Healthy Choices, Healthy People Act of 2005 (H.R. 161), which would provide grants to promote proper nutrition and diet supplementation among minorities. The participants also emphasized the need for dietary supplements to receive the same tax treatment as drugs and over-the-counter medications, as mandated by the Dietary Supplement and Healthy Meal Replacement Act (H.R. 1545) recently introduced by Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah). The attendees also stressed the importance of increased research funding for the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
The evening concluded with a reception featuring the presentation of NNFA’s 2005 Congressional Champion Awards. On hand to receive their awards were Sens. Harkin (D-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah); Reps. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Chris Cannon (R-Utah). Unable to attend, but also recipients of awards, were Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) and Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.).
At the ceremony, several of the honorees lauded NNFA for its effective leadership in ensuring the vitality of the natural products industry.
“I strongly believe that all of you can make a difference,” Rep. Pallone said. “You are doing a great job at getting your message out.”
“We need health care, not sick care,” Sen. Harkin said. “Kids can buy junk food at school, but not vitamins.”
“I’ve always been proud to work with NNFA, because we have so many of the same goals,” Sen. Hatch said. “As long as I’m here, DSHEA is going to live.”
In a related event, NNFA President Paul Bennett testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on Thursday, April 14. In his testimony, Bennett outlined NNFA’s support for enhanced funding of the Office of Dietary Supplements and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Bennett also urged immediate approval of final good manufacturing practices (GMPs) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and called for greater resources for FDA to fully implement and enforce the GMP regulations required by DSHEA.
“Dietary supplements are allowing millions of American consumers to take charge of their own good health by safely and effectively preventing and treating a host of illnesses and conditions,” Bennett said. “NNFA urges the committee to fortify the congressional mandate expressed in DSHEA by investing in the scientific research which holds the key to our knowledge of the remarkable importance and value of dietary supplements.”
The National Nutritional Foods Association (www.nnfa.org) is the nation’s largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry. NNFA represents more than 8,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids.
Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications
National Nutritional Foods Association
(202) 223 – 0101