Earlier this year, FMI’s Board of Directors chose five key advocacy areas potentially impacted by policies in Washington. These include labor (workforce supply and regulatory enforcement), food safety (traceability), payments (credit card competition, swipe-free reform), pharmacy and economy and inflation.
In addition, FMI’s government relations team is focused on strengthening the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and ongoing supply chain challenges.
Supporting the reauthorization of SNAP and the Farm Bill
As the most comprehensive federal nutrition program, SNAP provides 41.5 million low-income Americans with monthly grocery benefits. The program was reauthorized in 2018 along with the 2018 Farm Bill with both set to expire this year. According to National Associations of Counties data, Congress provided $153.8 billion in SNAP funding during FY 23.
Rapidly rising food prices coupled with supply chain challenges, geo-political strife and agricultural policy changes contributed to record inflation last year (11% price increase). As SNAP benefits are linked to food inflation, benefit levels “will automatically rise to reflect changes in the cost of living,” according to Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The program is the largest of the 12 titles covered in the Farm Bill, accounting for 95% of the spending, according to SnaptoHealth.org.
“Food retailers, wholesalers and product suppliers of all sizes support reauthorization of SNAP, a vital program to so many Americans, and advocate for the continued safety and efficiency of the most abundant food system in the world,” wrote Jennifer Hatcher, chief public policy officer, FMI in the association’s press release.
Mitigating credit card processing fees for retailers
On behalf of FMI’s retailer members, the committee plans to discuss rising credit card swipe fees. In 2022, Visa and Mastercard’s credit card processing fees were $1.2 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. With more consumers preferring to use credit cards in-store and for e-commerce, FMI notes the impact these costs are having on businesses.
“Our retailer members are also confronted with ever-increasing credit swipe fees paid to the largest banks and credit card companies at the expense of communities across our nation,” continued Hatcher.
Based on FMI data, card processing fees in 2021 were up 112% over the last decade and continue to rise. The organization argues that these fees significantly impact grocery retailers that are unable to afford pricey swipe fees, as well as lower-income consumers without access to credit cards and those who rely on cash.