By Jay Edwards
NEW JERSEY — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday visited ShopRite in Emerson to announce new concrete steps in his Affordability Agenda for Jersey, to get grocery prices down for Jersey families, particularly for meat, poultry, and produce, and to lower gas and energy prices.
This week, Gottheimer will be voting for a series of bills in Congress that will help lower the cost of a family’s grocery bill, tackle rising food prices and the supply chain crisis, and take action against any meat or poultry companies that are colluding and making profits on the backs of hard-working middle class families. Post-COVID supply chain issues, the war in Ukraine, and collusion in meat and poultry industries have contributed to the rise in food costs.
Gottheimer also continued to call on the President to sit down with oil and gas companies to discuss how to immediately utilize existing leases to increase domestic production and help lower gas prices for families. The rise in input costs, like gas, has led to a higher cost of doing business. Nearly a third of food production costs are energy-related.
New steps Gottheimer announced today to lower grocery costs in his Affordability Agenda for Jersey:
- Stopping Collusion and Price Fixing from Major Meat and Poultry Companies: This week, the House is considering Gottheimer-backed bipartisan legislation, the bipartisan Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act, which will appoint a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) special investigator to strictly enforce price-fixing laws on the books for the meat packing industry. If a company is found to be price fixing or colluding to jack up the cost of meat or poultry, then the special investigator must promptly take action and punish the company and individuals involved.
- Fixing the Food Supply Chain & Getting More Goods to Shelves Faster: This week, the House is considering Gottheimer-backed bipartisan legislation to strengthen the food supply chain and get more goods to grocery store shelves faster. The bipartisan Strengthening the Agriculture and Food Supply Chain Act requires the USDA to identify breakdowns, bottlenecks, and pain points in the food and agriculture supply chain and report back to Congress immediately to take action on their findings.
- Assisting Struggling Livestock & Meat Producers: This week, the House is considering Gottheimer-backed bipartisan legislation, the Butcher Block Act, to identify which up and coming livestock and meat producers need assistance to help jumpstart the supply chain and get meat moving. It will help create new and expand current livestock and meat processing capacity where it’s needed across the country.
- Supporting Small and Medium-sized Agricultural Producers: Gottheimer is pushing for the House to pass the bipartisan American Food Supply Chain Resiliency Act to ensure that small and medium-sized farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses — like the family-owned farms in in Sussex and Warren Counties — have the support and assistance they need to navigate supply chain challenges.
“It’s clear that food prices are hitting families hard — between COVID, Ukraine, and collusion in meat and poultry industries, the cost of groceries has surged. That’s why I’m focused day and night on concrete steps we can take to make life more affordable for families in Jersey,” Gottheimer said. “That’s what my Affordability Agenda for Jersey is all about — to help get grocery prices down for Jersey families, particularly for meat, poultry, and produce. This week, I will be voting for a series of bills in Congress that will help lower the cost of a family’s grocery bill, tackle rising food prices and the supply chain crisis, and take action against any meat or poultry companies that are colluding and making insane profits on the backs of our hard-working middle class families.”
“I got to meet Josh many years ago when he was first elected to Congress, and we met with him, and it was a unique experience because what he was talking about was not just the same rhetoric of whatever his party line tells him to speak about. He wasn’t talking only about what he was reading from a cue card. He came off the cuff. He talked about what the people who elected him wanted in the area he was elected,” said Lawrence Inserra III, CEO of Inserra Supermarkets. “He stood up for the principle of going piece by piece to try to find solutions for things, not just trying to pass off problems as something he couldn’t control. We’re just grateful to have him here.”
Gottheimer was joined by Inserra Supermarkets CEO Lawrence Inserra III, Bergen County Commissioner Mary Amoroso, Bergen County Commissioner Germaine Ortiz, and Bergen County Commissioner Tom Sullivan.
Other key steps Gottheimer is taking as a part of his Affordability Agenda for Jersey include:
- “Strategic Shipping Reserve”: Gottheimer has called for the Administration to utilize the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) as a new “Strategic Shipping Reserve” to move critical goods in the oceans — as they are now doing with Operation Fly Formula, following Gottheimer successfully pushing the Administration to invoke the Defense Production Act. TRANSCOM has ships ready and waiting around the country that can handle containers to help address supply chain issues.
- “Ports that Perform” Incentives: In an effort to compete with the five major ocean carriers (all foreign-owned), boost our economy, and tackle supply chain issues, Gottheimer has called for ports like Newark that move goods faster to be given financial incentives, including to the port operators, truckers, and the men and women of the International Longshoremen’s Association. This will incentivize and further boost port efficiency.
- The COVID-19 Supply Chain Relief Act: Gottheimer introduced bipartisan legislation that will (1) institute a federal Supply Chain Czar and establish individual regional supply chain leaders to help coordinate interstate response to supply chain disruptions, shortages, and increased prices; (2) allow states to deploy unused COVID-19 relief funds to help address supply chain bottlenecks in their states; and (3) begin a thirty-day countdown clock on the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Transportation to report to Congress and the public on the major current chokepoints in our nation’s supply chain.
- All-of-the-Above Energy Plan: Gottheimer’s plan to help lower oil & gas prices includes (1) U.S. energy producers ramping up domestic production, utilizing existing wells, (2) ending America’s reliance on Russian, Iran, & Venezuelan oil, and (3) maintaining our long-term climate and alternative energy goals. Gottheimer has called on the President to sit down with oil and gas companies to discuss how we can immediately utilize existing leases to increase domestic production.