NYAGS in Shelby Report: 2012 Headed Down Right Track ?

From The Shelby Report:

It’s becoming a New York state of mind to “buy local,” and retailers along with the state legislature have come ­together to promote the thousands of New York products made and produce grown in the state.

“There really is a movement; the state has even introduced legislation here called ‘SHOP: Pride of New York,’ and it was created to encourage both restaurants and grocery stores to buy local,” said Jim Rogers, president and CEO of the Food Industry Alliance of New York State (FIANY). “The grocers that I’m seeing within our membership all are very big into the ‘buy local’ issue. In fact, a couple of years ago, we even conducted a seminar because if you are going to buy local then of course you want to make sure that the products you are buying off the farm are safe products and they are handled in the proper way in the field.”

Both agricultural products grown and food products processed within New York State are part of the SHOP: Pride of New York program, its website says. Its growing membership now includes farmers and processors, retailers, distributors, restaurants and related culinary and support ­associations, all working together to bring New York State products to consumers.

Legislature looking at issues impacting grocers

The New York legislative session ended on June 21, and several issues that concern the New York grocery industry were hot topics as the session wrapped up, including a raise in the state’s minimum wage.

“It would go from the current $7.25 to $8.50 in one jump,” Rogers said. “After that, it would be indexed for your cost of living.”

The bill also would provide for increases in minimum wage based on the urban cost-of-living adjustments.

According to hudsonvalley.ynn.com, Senate and Assembly members had all but ruled out an increase to the state’s minimum wage before the session ended.

What FIANY wants to see is for the bill to be revised to reflect a smaller increase in the minimum wage and to do it over the course of a couple years.

FIANY wants to “get rid of indexing, and that jump has got to be multi-year,” Rogers said.

Another new bill supported by FIANY would allow ­retailers to apply for temporary WIC licenses.

“If you have a WIC license in good standing and you buy another store, then you should be able to get a temporary WIC license in less than a two-week period. Then you ­operate with that temporary WIC license until you get your permanent WIC license for that store,” he said.

Neither Rogers nor any of his members are pleased with another proposed bill that would require grocery baggers to have special training.

“This one is crazy. It would require mandatory training for people to pack grocery bags. There is a fine that could range upwards of $500 if the person hasn’t been properly trained to bag groceries,” Rogers said. “We’ve explained to the sponsor that we are only well served by showing our folks how to pack grocery bags and we aren’t looking to use more grocery bags than we have to anyhow. And a lot of times, customers tell you how they want their grocery bags packed.”

FIANY also is opposed to a proposed ban on candy and sweetened beverages at the checkout.

“I think this is equally as stupid—a ban on candy and sweetened beverages at checkouts,” he said. “You couldn’t have any displays by your checkout counter of candy or sweetened beverages.”

A possible ban on sodas larger than 16 oz. that recently was proposed by Mayor Mike Bloomberg in New York City has sparked the creation of the New York Association of Grocery Stores (NYAGS). It says its goal is to “stop the ­assault against grocery stores as well as the foodservice ­industry all over New York by the mayor and other government officials,” a news release said.

“The city continues in its quest of becoming a nanny state in regulating every aspect of the lives of the citizens of New York City and in the process, crushing small business,” said co-founder David Schwartz.

“NYAGS will vigorously protect business throughout New York from overreaching and unnecessary regulatory ­measures. NYAGS will help unite the fight against the ­recently announced Big Soda Ban by the NYC Board of Health,” co-founder Brad Gerstman added.

New York City business leader, philanthropist and owner of Gristedes supermarkets, John Catsimatidis, has pledged his support for NYAGS.

“We need NYAGS at this moment in time in our history because brick and mortar convenience stores, grocery stores and supermarkets are being destroyed because of anti-business government policies that have strangled the ­retail industry,” Catsimatidis said.

NYAGS has the support of the Bodega Association, the Latino Restaurant Association and the Korean American Small Business Center.

Read more from The Shelby Report

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