We are excited to announce a new 29-person Buy American Task Force (BATF). The task force represents all American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) memberships and uses the United States Department of Agriculture’s SP38-2017 for guidance.
The task force meets monthly and members are excited to bring diversity and grassroots issues to the forefront of the discussion. The task force will assist ACDA members to understand the Buy American policy requirements. It realizes that industry members have strong concerns about these requirements. Much of this feedback stems from the lost sales to imported products sold at cheaper prices in absence of a formal Buy American waiver process.
With the other food purchasing authorities present – either at the state or local level – there is a frustration with insufficient increases in meal reimbursements coupled with a perceived requirement to purchase more expensive foods. The production areas are more likely to be concerned about Buy American than non-production areas. Although we can address each of these issues and more, it is the task force’s position to prioritize and accomplish its goals.
The task force established that its mission is to assist ACDA members in an ongoing understanding of and compliance with the statutory and regulatory Buy American requirements for school meal programs. The task force is underway and knows that this policy impacts all ACDA members.
The task force’s top five list includes:
1) The Buy American policy has ambiguity and confusion. All membership areas express this concern. The committee will dissect these issues and develop answers to frequently asked questions to assist ACDA members.
2) There are higher costs associated with the Buy American policy and a concern about producers not being able to meet national demands.
3) A more formal template and guidance is needed through training.
4) There are procurement challenges when required to take the lowest bidder.
5) The ACDA conference and other national conferences will provide training. Details forthcoming.
This task force is dedicated to accomplishing its goals and finding solutions on behalf of all ACDA stakeholders. I am proud to represent the task force and serve as its chair to help craft clear and efficient guidance.