New York Yankees legendary catcher Yogi Berra is one of my favorite baseball players of all time. He loved the game, played it with gusto and was just a fun-loving individual to watch. Yogi also had a real gift for spouting out clever sayings in very funny but meaningful ways. Statements like “You can observe a lot by watching;” “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded;” and “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
I was planning to write this blog on the epic political failure of the 12-member, bipartisan Special Joint Deficit Reduction Committee in Washington D.C. and the concerns their ineptness have created for agriculture and taxpayers. Then, I saw Yogi on television the other night and one of his sayings came back to me. One day he was giving directions to Joe Garagiola from New York to his house in Montclair when he said, “Joe, when you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Classic Yogi. Then it occurred to me: that is exactly what the super deficit-reducing committee failed to do. They came to the fork in the road and did nothing. That is all I am going to write about it for now.
Instead, I’d like to focus on something more positive that is happening in D.C. today and deserves the attention of everyone in the feed industry—the Food Safety Modernization Act. It has been almost a year since President Obama signed the historic bill into law. FDA has been working feverishly to implement its requirements under new agency authority.
I spent over 30 years in the feed industry and I am pleased to say that Food Safety was our number one priority in all the years that I served. The feed industry always wore a white hat, even through the tough issues of BSE, melamine, antibiotics n animal feeds and dioxin. I felt extremely proud of how we handled those challenges and particularly how we responded to the multitude of news media requests. We didn’t win all the media battles; but, much more often than not, we did considerably better than break even.
Today, the feed industry faces another food safety hurdle. This one being FSMA. However, as usual, the industry is near the top of the mountain and is again leading the charge. One key to success is staying ahead of the issues and providing input to assist FDA in implementing the new provisions. Make sure your appropriate employees know the law, express any industry related concerns or problems to organizations such as the American Feed Industry Association or the National Grain and Feed Association, ask for help when needed in understanding the regulations, and participate in food and feed industry coalitions whenever possible.
As Yogi says, when you come to a fork in the road, take it. If you don’t, you may make a wrong mistake.