Our members from every corner of the country gathered late last month in Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and tell our industry’s unique story – one about American companies that proudly produce iconic beverages made by American workers in America’s hometowns. Our industry provides more than 270,000 family-supporting jobs with a direct economic impact of $245 billion.
The three-day American Beverage 2023 Fly-In was a bustling affair. We made more than 150 visits to offices on both sides of Capitol Hill. More than 160 members from our industry walked thousands of steps at our nation’s capital. We reminded lawmakers and their staff that nearly 60% of beverages sold today have zero sugar and that our companies’ innovations of more choices with less sugar are helping families achieve balance. We discussed how food restrictions only complicate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and how with more choices and clear information – both of which Americans have at their fingertips, thanks to our companies’ intentional innovation – individuals are making long-lasting behavior changes. This message is critical as leaders on the Hill begin discussions about Farm Bill reauthorization. The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Instate Trucking – or SHIP IT Act – was another topic brought up by our members. We used our collective voice to encourage lawmakers to support this legislation, which would make needed investments and updates to bring trucking safely into the 21st century.
In between a packed meeting schedule, we heard from thoughtful speakers including lawmakers, pollsters and more. During lunch, we were honored to be joined by Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., two strong supporters of our industry. Sen. Boozman, a leading voice in the Farm Bill discussions and the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, provided valuable insight on the status of the Farm Bill. As co-chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus, Sen. Boozman is also a strong advocate of investments in recycling infrastructure to help make our collection systems more effective and efficient, a goal our industry shares. Rep. Costa, a lead sponsor of the SHIP IT Act, spoke about the importance of trucking and transportation across all industries, including ours. Both lawmakers emphasized the value of in-person meetings and personal connections. We appreciate each speaker taking time out of their busy schedules to visit and share their perspectives. Their insights made our Fly-In that much better.
Many moments were shared on social media, which reinforced the impact of our industry and the success of our Fly-In. Feedback from our meetings was positive, with one lawmaker sharing we gave them “a lot to think about.” The work we put in over 72 hours made a difference to forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
The 2023 American Beverage Fly-In is behind us, but we will continue to tell our story at local, state and federal levels. We are proud to be making a real, positive impact in communities across our great nation.