Independent Grocers Reaffirm Priorities for Pandemic Relief

December 8, 2020

NGA letter to Congressional leadership urges tax relief for grocery workers, liability protections and expansion of SNAP online access

Arlington, VA – The National Grocers Association (NGA), the trade association representing the independent supermarket industry, reaffirmed the priorities of its membership in a letter to Congressional leaders as legislators continued to negotiate a package of pandemic relief measures before the end of the year.

The letter, to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, was signed by NGA President and CEO Greg Ferrara and the leaders of almost 700 NGA member companies.

NGA urges the inclusion of the following policies in an end-of-year spending package or COVID-19 relief legislation: tax relief to reward essential frontline grocery workers; limit liability exposure for essential businesses; and strengthen federal nutrition programs to feed hungry Americans, specifically expanding access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) online purchasing.

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-19 relief legislation that rewards frontline grocery workers for serving the public. NGA supports the bipartisan AG CHAIN Act (H.R. 6841), introduced by Reps. Thompson (R-PA) and Evans (D-PA), a bill that provides an exclusion from gross income taxes and temporary payroll tax relief to essential food and agriculture workers.

Additionally, NGA requests that Congress protect essential infrastructure businesses from unnecessary liability exposure, provided these businesses have taken reasonable steps to comply with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other health authorities. The SAFE TO WORK Act (S. 4317), introduced by Sen. Cornyn (R-TX), would help ensure grocers are protected if they made their best efforts to comply with federal, state and local guidance.

Finally, NGA requests that Congress include language 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. Unfortunately, only a limited number of grocery retailers are currently authorized to accommodate SNAP orders online because of several barriers preventing small retailers from participating in the SNAP Online Purchasing Program.

“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,” Ferrara wrote in the letter.

The full text of the letter can be read here.