Native Sun Natural Foods Market Owner Aaron Gottlieb and Purchasing Director Meghan Koontz joined natural products industry stakeholders from 33 states and the District of Columbia for the Natural Products Association’s (NPA) 13th annual lobbying event Natural Products Day held March 24, 2010 on Capitol Hill. Nearly 150 NPA members representing every component of the natural products industry educated members of Congress and their aides about the industry and the association’s legislative priorities, all of which promote consumer access and awareness of natural products.
The annual event came at a doubly momentous time for the natural products and health industry, occurring one day after the nation’s health care bill was signed into law, and two weeks after an agreement was announced between Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Byron Dorgan (D- ND) and industry proponents Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) regarding McCain and Dorgan’s recently introduced Dietary Safety Supplement Act (S.3002). The original legislation would have radically rewritten the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) resulting in less choice and greater costs for supplement users.
Lawmakers were asked to support the preservation of DSHEA, which protects access to dietary supplements, and to oppose S.3002 and any similar measures that threaten DSHEA. Attendees also asked for co-sponsorship of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act (S.934, H.R.1324), which addresses nutrition standards for foods served outside school lunch and breakfast programs; and to continue support for food safety legislation that strengthens protection without adding redundant regulations to the manufacturing of dietary supplements.
Further, attendees asked their elected officials to oppose the Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) Abuse Reduction Act of 2009 (S. 641), which amends the Controlled Substances Act to impose civil penalties for knowingly selling products containing DHEA to minors, and to support the Tax Equity for Dietary Supplements (H.R. 3406) bill that amends the IRS code to allow certain dietary supplements and meal replacement products to be eligible for tax exclusion for employer reimbursements of employee medical care expenses.
NPA ended the day with a packed evening reception on Capitol Hill, where nearly 300 legislators and staff networked at length with attendees. The highlight of the reception was the presentation of the NPA Congressional Champion Awards. On hand to receive their awards were Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Jon Tester (D-MT), and Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Jared Polis (D-CO). In their comments to the crowd, all expressed appreciation to the attendees for participating in Natural Products Day. Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-WY) was also honored.
Aaron is currently serving on the Board of directors of the Southeast Natural Products Association as a retail director. Founded in 1936, the Natural Products Association is the nation’s largest and oldest non-profit organization dedicated to the natural products industry. The Natural Products Association represents more than 10,000 retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of natural products, including foods, dietary supplements, and health/beauty aids.