WASHINGTON -- Republican gains in last week's national elections were applauded by food retail and wholesale trade groups, but association executives cautioned that battles still loom on the regulatory front.
"The real battlefront over regulation now shifts from the Congress to agencies like the [Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture,] where President Clinton's administration still holds sway," said Bruce Gates, vice president of public affairs for the National-American Wholesale Grocers' Association. "It would be a mistake to think that regulatory encroachment will abate simply because Republicans hold the House and Senate. In fact, we need to seize this opportunity to work with the new Congress on some extensive regulatory reform initiatives."
George Green, vice president and assisistant general counsel for the Food Marketing Institute, said: "I hope this election will send a message to regulators to rethink their approach, whether it be OSHA, EPA or the Food Safety Inspection Service of USDA. We have to get government regulation off the backs of food retailers. The Clinton administration regulatory approach has been extremely heavy handed. We look forward to working with Congress to influence the regulatory agencies."
Jeffrey Nedelman, vice president of communications and strategic planning for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, said, "The food industry has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" with the election results. Industry players need to work closely with the Congressional leadership to make certain that the cost savings gained through Efficient Consumer Response don't "evaporate in broad, non-value-added regulatory moves," he said.
Meanwhile, one food industry executive, Eddie Basha Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Chandler, Arizona-based Bashas', lost his bid to be elected governor of Arizona last week. A Democrat, he lost to Gov. Fife Symington by about 100,000 votes out of approximately 1 million cast.