The National Grocers Association (NGA) welcomed lawmakers’ bipartisan efforts in Washington to address pandemic relief efforts. It urged Congress to pass a relief package before the end of the year.
The NGA said a bipartisan group of negotiators had released a long-awaited compromise package in two parts: a $748 billion package boosting the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), nutrition programs, unemployment compensation, and other funding; and a more controversial $160 billion add-on of state and local funding married with a liability protection provision.
“This is an encouraging sign after months of deadlock,” said Chris Jones, NGA’s senior vice president, government relations and counsel. “Although the proposal isn’t perfect, that is the nature of compromise, and we are particularly encouraged by the strong liability protections. On behalf of independent grocers across the U.S., we urge Congress to act quickly to protect independent grocers from frivolous lawsuits.”
Top priorities of NGA’s membership for COVID relief include tax relief to reward essential frontline grocery workers, limits on liability exposure for essential businesses, and strengthening of federal nutrition programs to feed hungry Americans, the association said in a statement.
Related Article: NGA Foundation Invests in Campaigns to Attract Essential Grocery Workers
The NGA recently reaffirmed these priorities in a letter to Congressional leaders as legislators continued negotiating a package of pandemic relief measures before the end of the year.
“The independent grocery community appreciates your ongoing leadership throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and we stand ready to continue our work in ensuring that Americans’ most basic needs are met during this unprecedented time,” NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara wrote in the letter to members of Congress.
In the letter, the NGA requests that lawmakers strongly consider the independent supermarket industry’s priorities, whose employees have been tirelessly serving at the frontlines of the pandemic since March to feed the communities across the nation.
“While most grocers have increased pay and provided bonuses to their employees, the federal government should also recognize these individuals’ sacrifices by including legislation in the end-of-year spending package or COVID-19relief legislation that rewards frontline grocery workers for serving the public,” the letter says.
The NGA also emphasized that Congress should include language in the relief package expanding access to SNAP online purchasing for independent grocers, such as providing technical and financial assistance to small retailers that lack the capacity and resources necessary to get online.