iFoodDS Meets with Top Agriculture Policy Leaders on Capitol Hill
By The iFoodDS Team
July 29, 2021
iFoodDecisionSciences founder and iFoodDS board member Diane Wetherington was in Washington, DC on June 30 for a day of in-person meetings with top congressional agriculture policy leaders, including US Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), the panel’s second-ranking minority member. The day also included brief meetings with House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), and Rep. John Katko (R-NY), and Sam Sabol, agriculture policy advisor to Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ).
The meetings took place during a critical day for food policy in Congress, coinciding with the House Committee on Appropriations’ passage of legislation to fund the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and federal agriculture programs for the upcoming fiscal year, a bill that includes report language on food traceability championed by Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and backed by iFoodDS.
Rep. Panetta’s goal is to ensure the industry and government work together to identify and recall contaminated products when there is an outbreak more efficiently. Specifically, he is urging the inclusion of language in the above-mentioned bill that focuses on FDA Food Safety Partnerships and Communication Protocol, Food Traceability, and Traceback. The ability to isolate an issue and limit recall repercussions is invaluable, and iFoodDS echoes Rep. Panetta’s stress on the importance of traceability capabilities across the supply chain to support these efforts. Read more about Rep. Panetta’s traceability initiative here.
Diane’s meeting with Ranking Member Thompson featured a discussion of iFoodDS and its work at the intersection of food production and technology, and how it aligns with some of the priorities being undertaken currently by Republican and Democratic legislators on Capitol Hill. Technology is critical to supporting communication and traceability initiatives like Rep. Panetta’s. Having instant access to food safety and traceability data is critical to rapidly trace foods implicated in outbreaks.
As a result of the meeting, Ranking Member Thompson expressed interest in adding an iFoodDS stop to one of the upcoming beyond-the-Beltway trips being planned by the Agriculture Committee for the purpose of educating lawmakers on developments around the country.
The House Agriculture Committee also held a subcommittee hearing that day to hear the perspectives of American growers who have been impacted by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Labor shortages, supply and demand challenges, and added costs to comply with COVID-19 safety procedures are among a long list of the ways growers were impacted.
The meeting with Rep. Scott covered similar ground, and also included a discussion of the role food security plays in national security matters – an area of particular interest for Rep. Scott and his constituents in Georgia, where iFoodDS also has operations.
The meetings with Thompson and Scott build on the foundation of congressional engagement begun by Diane and iFoodDS last year, which included discussions with key committee and federal agency staff. Diane also represented iFoodDS in a virtual meeting this spring with Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), who recently joined the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. Another round of meetings is planned for September.
With its innovations and its emphasis on digital solutions at every stage of the food supply chain, iFoodDS is emerging as a respected and important voice in Washington as the future of food policy in America is being shaped.