NAMA Update: Work Continues With Congress, Biden Administration to Further Industry

Arlington, VA — The North American Millers’ Association’s (NAMA) strategic plan is to focus on three main areas for the flour milling industry, which include: food safety, nutrition, and the supply chain.

In an effort to provide an in-depth update on the regulatory efforts of the association, NAMA staff wrote this article in coordination with Tucker Scharfenberg, Milling Journal managing editor.

The pandemic posed numerous challenges to the milling industry, but unprecedented interest in home baking was a positive reminder of consumers’ desire for grain-based foods during difficult times.

More than halfway through 2021, the industry faces new uncertainties created by dry conditions in wheat and oat growing areas, inflationary pressures, and unsettled demand. These challenges underscore the importance of NAMA’s continued engagement with government agencies and on Capitol Hill to keep policymakers informed on the wide range of issues that impact millers.

In April, NAMA unveiled its new logo (pictured above) and website,, to reaffirm the association’s role as the trusted voice for the milling industry. The website serves as a resource for legislators, industry leaders, and potential customers around the world. Additionally, the new logo maintains NAMA’s long-time slogan – “The link between grain and goodness.”

“NAMA is supported by a strong team that bring decades of experience and expertise that reflects the association’s goals for 2021 and beyond,” says President Jane DeMarchi. “High-quality membership services through our signature events, strategic communications, and strengthening and expanding markets for milled grains remain top priorities. In early 2021, NAMA added new meetings, finance, and communications staff to help meet these goals.” (See p. 18 for more information.)

Legislative Issues

NAMA and its members remain engaged on Capitol Hill on a variety of policy issues that impact the industry, from transportation to sustainability, and nutrition. NAMA members also continue to host their elected representatives to share their mill’s role in the supply chain and discuss industry priorities.

According to Director of Government Affairs Kim Cooper, “Whether it’s meeting with representatives or hosting them for a mill visit, when NAMA members engage with their elected officials, millers gain informed allies on Capitol Hill who truly understand the importance of our industry.”

Infrastructure and Transportation

Infrastructure and transportation are two areas of interest to NAMA members, and they have been front and center in Congress. While a bipartisan infrastructure package with a topline spending of $1.2 trillion was agreed to, questions remain around whether the bill will be passed.

Additionally, Democrats have agreed to a topline of $3.5 trillion for a separate and more broad infrastructure package they plan to move through the budget reconciliation process, which does not require Republican votes. The bill will likely include investments in climate programs and residency status for farmworkers.

On July 1, the House passed the INVEST in America Act (H.R.3684). The surface transportation bill includes a 10% axle tolerance increase, for which NAMA has been advocating. The bill also includes an increase to minimum insurance liability requirements for motor carriers that NAMA and many agriculture groups oppose. NAMA is working with coalition partners to ensure that the Senate does not support such a proposal in final legislation.

Two of the four Senate committees of jurisdiction have advanced their surface transportation bills, which do not include the insurance increase. The Senate’s legislation does, however, include language from the DRIVE-Safe Act, a pilot apprenticeship program for commercial drivers aged 18-20 to help address the nationwide truck driver shortage, a NAMA priority.

FY 2022 Appropriations

On July 29, the House passed its fiscal year (FY) 2022 agriculture spending bill as part of a minibus spending package. The House bill would boost spending by more than 10%, to a total of $26.6 billion. The bill provides $3.391 billion – $321 million above the FY 2021 enacted level – for agriculture research programs. The full Senate has yet to vote on its version of the agriculture spending bill.

For the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the bill provides $1.74 billion for Food for Peace and $245 million for McGovern-Dole international food aid programs. The bill also includes report language supporting the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) oat research, wheat genetics research, and the small grain genomics research that includes wheat.

While a bipartisan infrastructure package with a topline spending of $1.2 trillion was agreed to, questions remain around whether the bill will be passed.

NAMA has been engaged in the congressional appropriations process on a number of industry priorities, such as supporting the U.S. Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative and leading a coalition of over 90 organizations in supporting increased funding for International Food Aid programs.

Additionally, members of the NAMA Oat Division met with 30-plus congressional offices in support of funding for the NAMA oat research initiative, including Senate Appropriations Ag Subcommittee Chair Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Throughout this process, NAMA has cultivated new congressional champions, such as Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN), who testified in support of NAMA’s funding request during the House Appropriations Member Day hearing.

Rep. Baird stated, “Oat consumption in the United States has increased over the years. Oat production has steadily decreased, resulting in U.S. mills importing over 90% of their oats from Canada. In order to bring oat production back to the United States, I ask the committee to continue to support ARS’ genetic oat research program by providing an increase of $2.25 million so that our nation can become self-sufficient.”

On July 29, the House passed its fiscal year (FY) 2022 agriculture spending bill as part of a minibus spending package. The House bill would boost spending by more than 10%, to a total of $26.6 billion.

Regulatory Update

“NAMA continues to engage the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USDA, and other regulatory agencies on a wide range of regulatory issues,” says Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Dale Nellor. “That engagement uniquely positions NAMA members to have meaningful dialogue with agency officials on current and emerging regulatory issues of importance to the milling industry.”

As an example, when sustainability emerged as a top priority for the Biden administration, NAMA launched a new Sustainability Working Group to address the many legislative and regulatory proposals that are currently under discussion in Washington, D.C.

Supply Chain, Sustainability, and Foreign Market Development

Following President Biden’s executive order focused on strengthening U.S. supply chains, NAMA submitted comments to USDA, noting that the milling industry is an irreplaceable part of the nation’s agricultural landscape, serving as the link between grain and food in local communities across the country.

The comments highlight the current oat trade imbalance with Canada, the need for ag research funding for wheat and oats, and the industry’s transportation policy priorities. While some of the supply chain issues being faced in our industry are unique, most reflect common concerns across food and agriculture, including ready access to raw materials, skilled workers, and reasonable transportation costs and availability.

On April 29, NAMA submitted comments to USDA in response to the agency’s request for comment regarding climate policy. NAMA’s comments discussed using existing programs to incentivize the production of wheat and oats and including those crops in three- or four-year rotations. The comments also supported the idea of USDA funding plant breeding projects for fall planted crops like wheat and oats and for USDA to set clear and specific standards for carbon markets.

NAMA continues its foreign market development work and has formally submitted a grant application to USDA for 2022. NAMA’s proposed activities include trade work in the South American region and continued promotion of milled products for in-kind food aid programs.

Executive Order on Competition

On July 9, President Biden signed an executive order focused on promoting competition in the U.S. economy. In the agriculture sector, much of the order is aimed at meat processing facilities, but it also takes aim at consolidation in the transportation sector, including maritime shipping and rail. It encourages the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to take up a longstanding proposed rule on so-called reciprocal or competitive switching, the practice whereby shippers served by a single railroad can request bids from a nearby competing railroad if service is available. The STB proposed a competitive switching rule in 2016 but hasn’t yet acted on it.

NAMA and the Ag Transportation Working Group sent a letter encouraging the STB to act on the executive order’s recommendation.

FDA oversight of the food supply is a top priority for Congress and the Biden administration, which is reflected in the increased funding for FDA priorities in Congress’ proposed funding bill for FY 2022.

FDA Areas of Interest

FDA oversight of the food supply is a top priority for Congress and the Biden administration, which is reflected in the increased funding for FDA priorities in Congress’ proposed funding bill for FY 2022.

The FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and Office of Food Policy and Response (OFPR) recently released a list of priority draft and final guidance documents that the agency intends to publish over the next year related to foods and dietary supplements. Some areas of interest include:

• Food allergens – FDA is expected to update its allergen labeling guidance documents to reflect the addition of sesame as a major food allergen as a result of the FASTER Act passed by Congress this spring. FDA also anticipates issuing a draft guidance on how to evaluate other food allergens that are not currently treated as major food allergens.

• Heavy metals in foods for babies and young children – Consistent with Phase 1 of the FDA’s “Closer to Zero” action plan to reduce exposure to toxic elements in foods for babies and young children, FDA intends to publish three guidance documents over the next year addressing action levels for inorganic arsenic and lead in certain foods for babies and young children.

• Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – With respect to guidance documents related to the implementation of FSMA, FDA plans to move forward with finalizing several existing guidance documents and issuing additional anticipated chapters of the Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Foods draft guidance.

FDA’s regulatory priorities largely remain unchanged from its Fall 2020 Unified Agenda. Some of the actions highlighted include:

• Requirements for Additional Traceability Records For Certain Foods (goal of a final rule by November 2022).

• Laboratory Accreditation for Analysis of Foods (goal of a final rule by February 2022).

• Updating the “healthy” definition.

• Standards of Identity.


NAMA continues to keep members informed of the latest information on federal activities around COVID-19 and vaccines. The Critical Infrastructure Supply Chain Council (CISCC) Executive Committee, of which NAMA is a member, met virtually with officials from the National Governors Association and the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to lay out recommendations to prepare supply chains for the next emergency.

NAMA also closely monitored Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) plans to publish an Emergency Temporary Standard for COVID-19 and participated in meetings with the Biden administration. The standard does not cover milling operations, a reflection of the reduction in COVID-19 cases and the availability of vaccines.

FDA oversight of the food supply is a top priority for Congress and the Biden administration, which is reflected in the increased funding for FDA priorities in Congress’ proposed funding bill for FY 2022.

Combustible Dust

NAMA joined other agriculture industry groups in submitting comments to OSHA on a proposal to define combustible dust. NAMA’s comments raise concerns over the broad nature of the proposed definition and how it is inconsistent with existing OSHA guidance on combustible dust hazards. OSHA is expected to soon announce a virtual public hearing.

2021 Annual Meeting

NAMA members will gather in-person Oct. 7-10 at the Boca Beach Club, Boca Raton, FL, for the NAMA 2021 Annual Meeting. The three-day program offers executive-level networking opportunities and educational sessions that will focus on timely topics, including the milling workforce of the future, the post-pandemic economic outlook, changing consumer demands, and sustainability. The NAMA Board of Directors, Foreign Market Development Committee, and Corn and Oat Divisions also will meet during the event.

More information on the NAMA 2022 Spring Conference at Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, SC will be available in the coming months.

To learn more about NAMA’s work on behalf of the milling industry and upcoming events, visit

From Third Quarter 2021 Milling Journal

NAMA Update

  • Jane De Marchi Dale Nellor Kim Cooper
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