NAMA Leads Efforts to Guide Milling Industry Through COVID-19 Pandemic

The North American Millers Association (NAMA) has taken the lead working with government agencies and industry alliances to ease the way for flour millers to continue producing food while keeping its employees safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Top staffers with NAMA outlined the association’s efforts April 9 in a webinar it sponsored along with Milling Journal magazine.

“Since the start of the pandemic in the United States a month ago, NAMA offices have been closed, and our staff has worked remotely,” said NAMA President and CEO Jim McCarthy.

“Yet we’ve continued to update our members to developments related to the pandemic on an almost daily basis.”

That started March 19, shortly after the federal government designated food and agriculture an “essential industry” that must remain in operation, even while millions of Americans are under orders to “shelter in place” in their homes.

The association issued a public statement that day to the media and general public.

“Our food supply remains safe,” Chris Clark, NAMA vice president-communications and administration, recounted.

“Our supply chains are working. The safety of our industry’s employees and the public are key.”

Among NAMA’s activities since then:

  • COVID-19 updates have been supplied to members weekly through the association’s online Weekly Grind newsletter.
  • NAMA continues to work with food and ag industry coalitions such as the Food & Beverage Industry Alliance and partners such as the National Grain and Feed Association on a variety of issues.
  • NAMA continues to work on critical transportation issues. These include contacts with top state and local officials urging the adoption of uniform standards on the transportation of critical goods, increasing truck weight limits from 80,000 to a minimum of 88,000 pounds, removal of tariffs and other restructions on ocean freight containers, and easing hours of service restrictions on truck drivers.
  • The association has urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ease up on some of its regulatory oversight of food manufacturers. As a result, the FDA has announced it will conduct only “for cause” domestic and foreigh facility inspections – for cause being mainly complaints alleging an imminent threat to human or animal food safety. Changes also allow for more enforcement discretion for onsite audit requirements, FDA verification of facility registration, and relaxed nutrition label requirements.