US bakers bank on ‘strength in numbers’ to tackle priorities with Capitol Hill

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages
Pic: GettyImages

Related tags American bakers association American Society of Baking Retail Bakers of America US Congress Policy workforce Nutrition Supply chain Food safety

The American Bakers Association (ABA) is partnering with the American Society of Baking (ASB) and Retail Bakers of America (RBA) to give bakers an even stronger voice with US Congress.

Leaders from all segments of the baking industry will be gathering in Washington DC for the Bakers Fly-In and Policy Summit to be held 13-14 November. In attendance will be members of Congress, executive branch leaders and regulators from various agencies; and the discussion will focus on the policies impacting baking businesses, both large and small.

While ABA recognises its role as the baking sector’s leader in the nation’s capital, “advocacy is all about strength in numbers and bringing people together, which is exactly what this fly-in will do,”​ said Eric Dell, president and CEO of ABA.

“We are excited to partner with ASB and RBA to tell the baking industry’s stories to lawmakers and regulators and illustrate how federal policies and regulations impact the baking industry. It will be very powerful and impactful.”

Pushing to modernise outdated policies

Capitol Hill Getty
Pic: GettyImages

The ABA recently led the Farm Bill Fly-In on Capitol Hill, which included a bakers’ dozen of meetings with federal agency officials, Senators and Representatives from both side of the political aisle to ensure that several key wholesale baking industry priorities were heard by the influencers of the 2023 Farm Bill.

Every five years, Congress goes through an extensive process to develop and pass legislation that sets national commodity, trade, nutrition programmes, energy and research policy. ABA saw the Farm Bill as an opportunity to modernise outdated policies and ensure flexibility for the American food system.

“It’s because of ABA’s constant policy efforts in DC that we, as members, are able to come in and have efficient, impactful discussions with policymakers on Capitol Hill and at federal agencies,”​ said Hayden Wands, VP of Global Procurement, Commodities, Grupo Bimbo.

“ABA’s expertise in helping bakers and suppliers connect the dots between policy and practicality makes advocacy approachable and effective for those of us who don’t do these sorts of meetings every day.

“We are confident that with ABA in our corner, we can make a difference in helping lawmakers understand the Farm Bill's impacts on the wholesale baking industry.”

During the Farm Bill Fly-In, ABA asked Congress to:

  • Modernise the US Sugar Programme to allow the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to better respond to ever-changing market demands.
  • Retain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programme (SNAP) choice for recipients.
  • Increase wheat production to meet domestic and global demand through sustainable opportunities, creating tools such as expanding the definition of cover crops to allow for harvested food use, and keeping the Conservation Reserve Programme (CRP) acreage cap steady.
  • Maintain a strong USDA research infrastructure adding emphasis for strong wheat quality research to keep America competitive worldwide.

Representing the heart and soul of the baking industry

Baker shaking hands with consumer Ilhor Bulyhin
Pic: GettyImages

ABA’s next fly-in in November will focus on broader policy initiatives, including the critical areas of  workforce, nutrition and supply chain.

“This joint event will represent the heart and soul of the baking industry - hardworking people who pour themselves into making a product to help feed their fellow Americans,”​ said Kristen L. Spriggs, executive director of ASB.

“Our collective voice will show the diversity of our industry and how the issues impact every company at any size.”

The complimentary two-day event will be capped off with the Bakers’ Dozen Congressional Awards Reception on Capitol Hill, with members of Congress expected to attend, providing additional opportunities for ABA, ASB and RBA members to engage and build relationships with policymakers.

In addition to the Fly-In and Policy Summit, ABA will be running a Diversity, Equity and Including Working Group Conference, as well as meetings hosted by its Food Technical and Regulatory Affairs Professionals Group (FTRAC) on food safety and nutrition policy, which both ASB and RBA members may attend. 

ABA members will also be able to attend a reception with a high-level political speaker hosted by the American Bakers Political Action Committee (PAC).

Registration is now open.

Established in 1897, the ABA has grown into the US’ largest, most established and inclusive wholesale baking community. Members benefit from a wide breadth of business services such as exclusive networking connections, federal and state advocacy, workforce development programmes and resources, and industry trends research. 

The ASB is celebrating 100 years of serving the grain-based food industry. Grain-based food production employs more than 330,000 Americans at more than 10,000 commercial baking facilities and high-volume retail bakeries.

RBA plays an important role in connecting buyers and sellers within the industry, along with providing support and resources to help bakers stay up to date on the latest trends and developments in the industry.

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