You wouldn't know it from the general media, but there are priorities in the halls of government other than the Iraq war and terrorism.
of things under way, even as the war occupies attention," Tim Hammonds, president and chief executive officer, Food Marketing Institute here, told SN recently.
Following are some agenda items under active pursuit:
Taxes: FMI has been lobbying for the president's Economic Growth and Jobs proposal, including its tax proposals. These include pushing for permanent repeal of the Estate Tax and eliminating double taxation of dividends. Also part of the package is the reduction of individual tax rates. "That helps consumers, but it also helps our smaller companies," Hammonds said. "More than half our member companies file business taxes on individual -- not corporate -- tax schedules. They would benefit from this reduction."
Prescription Drug Benefits: FMI wants any prescription drug plan for seniors to take into account the importance of the retail pharmacist. "We want to make sure everything doesn't get driven to mail order, which may be cheaper in the short run but runs the danger of losing community pharmacists," Hammonds said. "They are so important in providing patient counseling and giving advice and flagging issues where you may have multiple physicians and drug interaction possibilities. Supermarkets are filling more than 25% of all prescriptions, so they're big players and need to be part of this debate."
Country-of-Origin Labeling: FMI hopes to convince producers that the country-of-origin labeling provision passed by Congress in 2002 is not in their best interest. The goal is to bring them around to joining the rest of the food-distribution industry in revising the provision. Hammonds said he hopes producers understand that they will bear the major costs of labeling. "They are going to have to segregate the product," Hammonds said. "Producers on the produce side will have to post stickers on product and conduct audits to prove their declarations of country of origin are correct. I think many of the producer organizations are rethinking this. But they are the ones who need to change it if it's going to change during the initial two-year voluntary period."