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Election Brings Potential Threats to Natural Product Industry

WASHINGTON–John Gay from the Natural Products Association (NPA) called yesterday’s mid-terms “the most remarkable election in my 25 years in Washington," and the natural product industry advocacy group said it will stay abreast of potential threats from the “lame duck" session still in power and the potential changes that will come with new government officials.  

Because new members of Congress won’t take their seats until January, the current Congress gets one more crack at legislating, known as a “lame duck." “We’ve been preparing for the possibility that Senators and Representatives soon to be out of power may try to slip their pet proposals into must-pass pieces of legislation, like the spending bill," Gay said. “We’ll have to keep a watch on them."

One potential threat the nonprofit noted is legislation to grant additional enforcement powers to FTC.  “NPA members helped stop this proposal when Congress was debating the Wall Street reform bill this summer, but it could be brought back to life," Gay said.

Looking ahead to the 112th Congress, Gay pointed to some significant changes for the industry. “The natural products sector has champions and threats coming from both sides of the aisle, so the fact that one party or the other is in control does not make or break us—the champions and a number of threats remain," he said. “But the shift in leadership in the House may help as Representative Henry Waxman must now give up the chairmanship of the Energy and Commerce Committee, although he remains in Congress."

In the Senate, NPA is optimistic that industry champions such as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) remain well-positioned to continue their work. However, it said one wild card is Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who won re-election and will not have to face the voters again for six years. “Will he introduce another version of his Dietary Supplement Safety Act, or will he continue to work with Senator Hatch? That is a key question," Gay said.

With additional authority unlikely to be granted by the new Congress, NPA expects federal regulators to test the limits of their existing powers. “We support their actions aimed at getting the bad actors out of the market," Gay said, “but it is a problem if they target the legitimate industry, especially if they go beyond the current law to do so."

NPA hopes to educate new members of Congress who may not understand the natural products industry. “NPA will be reaching out to the newly elected members of Congress and their staffs to begin educating them, but we need the industry’s help," Gay said. “The more these new Representatives and Senators hear from their constituents about the value of the industry, the better."

NPA urges retailers and suppliers to come to Washington for the 2011 Natural Products Day, which likely will take place in March, pending announcement of the Congressional schedule.  “Nothing makes a greater impact than a face-to-face meeting with a constituent," Gay added.

Gay offered one caveat on the election. “Whether you are happy or sad with the results, you should keep in mind that everything could change two years from now with this volatile electorate," he said. “NPA will continue to work with Republican and Democratic allies to strengthen the industry’s position in Congress."

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