STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International

Volume 3, Number 3

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18 STiR tea & coffee industry international Q: NCA is known for its advocacy on behalf of the coffee industry. Name the top three challenges facing the American coffee industry from regulatory, court or Congressional actions. Prioritize these from the vantage of your membership and describe by what means NCA is addressing these threats/opportunities. A: From the U.S. perspective, coffee is largely an imported agricultural commodity. For this reason today's biggest challenge comes from legislative reworking of the U.S. food safety system, specifically the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The NCA has made this a top priority, and we're working to protect the interests of everyone, from growers exporting to the U.S., the world's largest market for coffee, to anyone in the supply chain who helps brings coffee to consumers. The Food Safety Modernization Act stands to upend years of careful planning and execution of time-tested food safety plans by giving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to issue mandatory recalls of foods and by making importers liable for the safety of the foods that pass through their control. All companies that pack, receive or hold foods are made presumptively liable for risks for which they should have been aware. Regulations to implement the law have been dribbling out of Washington, and the NCA has submitted industry comments to the FDA. Another major challenge is legal action in California against the coffee industry. The state's Proposition 65, originally a water safety voter referendum, requires disclosure of the presence of a list of nearly 1,000 chemical substances, natural or added. One of those substances, acrylamide, is formed routinely in the cooking of common foods, including bread, crackers, potato chips and, to a lesser extent, in coffee. Coffee compa- nies have found themselves in the crosshairs as targets of litigation brought by private plaintiffs, to whom the law grants standing to supplement limited state resources to protect the public interest. Instead, plaintiffs have used this provision to reap disproportionate percentages of judgments and settle- ments in what has become virtually a cottage industry. The NCA helped orchestrate a joint defense group, and continues to provide technical and scientific knowledge for the defense. A very recent challenge is a noticeable increase in agricultural inspections of green coffee shipments at some U.S. ports. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) department has been requiring costly inspections of imported green coffee shipments for the Coffee Berry Borer beetle, the Mediterranean fruit fly and the coffee rust fungus, none of which can be present in green coffee. The NCA successfully reached out to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) division in charge of agricultural inspections, the Animal & Plant Health Inspec- tion Service (APHIS), which is now revising the manual issued to CBP authorities to clarify regulations that were being misinterpreted and misapplied. Photos by Emerson Leonard/STiR Tea & Coffee Q: NCA is part of a global network with close ties to associations and trade organizations in neighboring countries and internationally though the ICO where the focus is on the big picture addressing issues such as socio-economic change, climate extremes and volatility in trade. Describe your view of NCA's role in the global coffee community. A: I've spent 30 years as a trade association professional, and can tell you from personal experience that one of the keys to success in this field is working with partners with whom you share common interests. The key is approaching all partners with respect, by listening carefully to others, and acknowledg- ing different points of view. The NCA is in the unique position of not only being able to partner - by listening to, joining with, and supporting our allies - but, when appropriate, by leading in a variety of ways. For example, at our Annual Conference in New Orleans this year we provided a formal platform for a number of groups to discuss the issues we are all facing with respect to achieving sustainability throughout the supply chain. We heard from certifiers, NGOs, coffee companies and cross- industry partnership organizations about their work to foster development and support socioeconomic change. Solutions start with ideas and dialogue. The NCA provided a forum for dialogue and networking, and from there ideas and initiatives NEWS Q A William Murray President and CEO National Coffee Association

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