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The writing on the sidewall

December 1st, 2015 / By: / News

What do vanilla extract and event tents have in common? Trade industry advocacy!

It’s the holiday season, and if your kitchen is churning out tray after tray of frosted sugar cookies and gingerbread men and Russian teacakes, you might pause to wonder: How is it that in the U.S., vanilla extract is sold in the baking aisle next to such innocent products as brownie mix and birthday candles, despite having an alcohol content comparable to Jose Cuervo and Jägermeister?

What? You’ve never asked yourself that question?

Truth be told, neither have I, but the folks at Bon Appétit magazine have—and the answer is more than a bit of baking history trivia. It’s a case study of how a trade organization can save an industry.

Founded in 1909, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (the original FEMA!) saw the prohibition writing on the wall and launched a massive—and successful—lobbying effort to exempt flavor extracts from the looming ban. After prohibition was repealed, vanilla continued to be treated as a food product rather than a spirit or liqueur because of FEMA’s advocacy. To this day, flavor extracts receive tax drawbacks and aren’t subject to typical alcohol restrictions. The nation is free to bake!

For the tent industry, the writing is on the tent sidewall. In 2015, a proposal to the International Code Council’s 2018 Model Code would have resulted in many installations requiring expensive, site-specific structural reviews. Because of industry advocacy by the Tent Rental Division of IFAI and others, a revised proposal limits the situations that would trigger a review.

The Group B portion of the code development cycle in 2016 will bring on an even broader review of tent codes. TRD is committed to participating in the code development process to ensure that the industry is safe and profitable, but it’s only as strong as its member participation. It’s going to take more than a tray of cookies, although that wouldn’t be a bad way to introduce yourself to your local code official and begin a conversation.

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