Wolverine World Wide Inc. is showing its support for the Berry Amendment. The Rockford, Mich.-based firm released a statement today thanking Michigan’s elected officials for supporting the bill, which would apply the made-in-USA requirement for military footwear to athletic category.
The House of Representatives and Senate have each passed respective versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes defense-related programs for fiscal year 2017.
Wolverine Worldwide has a manufacturing plant in Big Rapids, Mich., where it produces its Berry Amendment compliant boots under its Bates line. The company recently invested in its factory to produce 100 percent Berry-compliant Saucony running shoes. Wolverine also produces pieces for Keds, Wolverine and CAT and its 1,000 Mile line.
“I thank the members of our congressional delegation for their unwavering commitment to the footwear needs of our armed services,” said Blake Krueger, Wolverine Worldwide’s chairman, CEO and president, in a release. “Supporting this critical provision demonstrates a clear understanding of the importance of manufacturing in our home state of Michigan and ensures that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will be provided with world-class, American-made athletic shoes for use in basic training. Sen. Peters, Sen. Stabenow, Rep. Huizenga and Rep. Moolenaar are leading the way toward maintaining a strong industrial base in Michigan and throughout the United States.”
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The U.S. Senate passed its Department of Defense bill that requires the Pentagon’s purchases of athletic footwear subject to the Berry Amendment on June 14. Earlier this session, the House defeated a proposed amendment to strike Berry Amendment provisions.
Although New Balance initially spearheaded these efforts, brand CEO Rob DeMartini said it has “done a lot of work to ensure that we’re not the one sole supplier” at a talk titled “The Future of Footwear Policy” at the Footwear News Summit in New York earlier this month.
Yet in a statement released from President Barack Obama’s Office of Management and Budget on June 7, the administration stated, “Mandating that a specific article of clothing be provided to new recruits is unprecedented,” adding that “because only one company is currently producing a shoe that arguably meets the standards established in the section, this provision appears to provide a preferential arrangement for a particular company.”
Having passed through the House and Senate, the bill is in conference committee, but President Obama has threatened to veto the bill as is.
Wolverine World Wide Inc. and the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America also expressed support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and hosted Ambassador Robert Holleyman, deputy U.S. trade representative at its Big Rapids factory.