March 26, 2008

In Today's Issue:


Save Money!
Only five more days left to take advantage of early discount registration rates for the United Fresh, Las Vegas show!  Register now and save money.
United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008 connects you to new and improved products, services and solutions to make your business grow, including first-rate educational workshops, top speakers, two leading produce industry expositions and networking opportunities:


  • Viva Las Vegas Opening Party – Poolside at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel
  • Opening Breakfast General Session – Featuring Keynote Speaker, Steve Burd, Safeway President, Chairman & CEO
  • Education Workshops – Look no further for a cutting edge to get ahead in your business.
  • Chairman’s Reception & Annual Awards Banquet Celebrate produce industry leaders and key customers as we gather for this annual banquet to celebrate retail and foodservice award winners.
  • Food Safety & Technical Seminar - Review the latest food safety studies and research presented by leading industry members, and visit the expanded Food Safety & Research Pavilion.
  • Admission into Leading Expos:
    United FreshTech
    - The only produce industry event focused on fresh-cut processing, valued added solutions, new technologies, and technical innovations throughout the supply chain from farm to table.

    United Fresh Marketplace - The produce marketing and merchandising show where you can meet with entire produce and perishables management teams.

    Rates go up by $50 next Monday; click here to register and save!

United Fresh, Members, FDA Work Together on Recall
Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology at United Fresh, has been coordinating with industry members and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for more than a week now, providing input and guidance on product recall actions involving cantaloupe from one Honduran grower/packer.  Over the weekend, FDA made a public announcement that cantaloupe from Agropecuaria Montelibano may be associated with a Salmonella Litchfield outbreak in the United States and Canada.  FDA is advising U.S. grocers, food service operators, and produce processors to remove from commerce any cantaloupes from this company.  Several companies have initiated traceback procedures, and FDA lists Recall Notices on its website.  If you have purchased or sold this product and you would like information on how to conduct a traceback or recall, please contact David at 202-303-3411 or at dgombas@unitedfresh.org.  If you have communication questions or would like to refer media calls to us, please notify Amy Philpott, vice president of marketing and industry relations, at 202-303-3425 or aphilpott@unitedfresh.org.

United Fresh, USDA Discuss Food Safety Research for Specialty Crops
As Congress considers whether to include funding in the Farm Bill for specialty crop research, USDA has begun asking stakeholders for research priorities.  Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology at United Fresh, met with the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Implementation Planning Team (SCRIIPT) to discuss food safety and research priorities.  “The highest food safety research priorities are those that provide the industry with valid tools to prevent, detect and correct contamination events, wherever they occur,” said Dr. Gombas, referring to the outcome of the 2007 International Lettuce and Leafy Greens Food Safety Research Conference.  “Even with new funding, research dollars are too scarce to be wasted on projects that are scientifically interesting, but ultimately don’t provide the tools to improve food safety.”  For more information, contact David at 202-303-3411, dgombas@unitedfresh.org.

Social Security No-Match Rule Could Go Into Effect Soon
In this week’s Federal Register, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a “Supplemental Proposed Rulemaking” for the No-Match Rule. 
This means that the September 14, 2007 Social Security No-Match Rule, which has been delayed by litigation, could go forward with very few changes except that it will now address the procedural deficiencies noted by the court. 
DHS will accept comments for 30 days before issuing the final supplemental rule, after which the Court will decide if the rule is sufficient to comply with the Court’s order. If the Court decides that the supplemental final rule is sufficient, then the Court could allow the DHS and the Social Security Administration to begin implementing the No-Match regulation.  The No-Match rule creates new legal obligations for businesses to verify that their employees are authorized for domestic work.  Last October, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Roofing Contractors Association, American Nursery and Landscape Association, and United Fresh successfully challenged some of the procedural aspects of how the rule was issued.  United Fresh will continue to track the administration's actions and analyze their impact on produce businesses.  For additional information regarding the SSA and DHS's policy regarding no-match letters, visit the SSA website. In addition, you can visit the United Fresh No-Match Immigration Resource Center for additional information and for a copy of the new proposed rule.  For more information, please contact Autumn Veazey, United Fresh legislative director and associate counsel, at 202-303-3409 or aveazey@unitedfresh.org.

Comment Period for Proposed H-2A Regulations Extended to April 14
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the comment period for the proposed changes to the H-2A regulations will be extended until the end of the day on April 14.  United Fresh will be submitting comments prepared by members of our “H2-A Working Group,” an ad hoc working group, that was formed specifically to address the significant rewrite of the proposed regulations to the H-2A guest worker program.  Interested stakeholders may submit comments, identified by Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 1205–AB55, by any one of the following methods: by accessing the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal or by mail or hand delivery to: Thomas Dowd, Administrator, Office of Policy Development and Research, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW., Room N–5641, Washington, DC 20210.  For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov.   

Meet Your United Fresh Staff: Joan Donnelly
A second year veteran of United Fresh, Joan Donnelly is the Chief Financial Offer responsible for the association’s financial, administrative and human resources operations. Between tracking and reconciling financial information, preparing and analyzing monthly statements, handling payroll and staff benefits, IT issues, and the day-to-day operations of our office, she keeps busy.  When asked what she likes about her job at United Fresh, she said, “That’s a tough question because I really enjoy what I do, but I have to say that it has been especially enjoyable getting to know our members and learning about their business.”

Except for a single three-year period, Joan Donnelly has always lived in the Washington, D.C. area.  She loves the great shopping, fabulous restaurants and D.C.-centric events such as the annual Cherry Blossom Festival and the lighting of the Nation’s Christmas Tree in front of the White House.  What she could do without is D.C.’s traffic congestion, snowy winters and humid summers. 

The produce industry has a loyal consumer in Joan – she eats an apple everyday at work, and she hasn’t met a fruit or veggie she didn’t like.  Some of her favorites for cooking or eating raw are pineapples, cherry tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, leeks, and even celery root!  She loves to cook and she is sure to include many fresh fruits and vegetables in her recipes.  But don’t take Joan for just another excellent home chef, she also enjoys kickboxing and is thinking that she may work towards earning a black belt!  Joan’s son is a Naval Flight Officer who flies the submarine-tracking P3 Orion plane.  Her daughter is an officer and a helicopter pilot, also in the Navy.  Joan also has three grandkids and another one due in July.

Joan is one of almost two dozen United Fresh staff members working on your behalf every day.  At United Fresh, we are proud to serve our members and the industry. Feel free to contact us anytime at 202-303-3400.

United Fresh Hosts South Carolina Town Hall Meeting

United Fresh President Tom Stenzel and Director of Legislative Affairs Autumn Veazey hosted a meeting in Columbia, South Carolina last week, attracting produce companies from throughout the southeast.  Key topics of discussion included country of origin labeling, food safety and immigration reform.  “This event provided a unique opportunity for United Fresh staff, members from all sectors of the supply chain, federal officials, state officials and allied industry professionals to come together at the local level and discuss the current business, legislative, food safety, and regulatory issues impacting the produce industry,” said Autumn.  Special thanks goes to Tom Lovelace, Buddy McEntire and Carter McEntire of McEntire Produce and Charles Wingard and Ashley and Wayne Rawl from Walter P. Rawl & Sons and Charles Hall from Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association for sponsoring the luncheon.  For more information about this Town Hall Meeting and others, please contact Autumn Veazey, director of legislative affairs, at 202-303-3427.


New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry: United Fresh thanks all current members for their dedication to the association and the produce industry. Please let us know whenever we can be of service to you.  For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Jeff Oberman.

News & Views
Drought
Rural Australia has recovered from their weather-related drought, but the shortage of farm workers is being termed a crisis, with a need for immigration laws, says The Age.

Nano
BusinessWeek reports that environmental groups are calling for mandatory labeling on products containing nanotechnology to prevent consumers from unknowingly ingesting them.

Superior Sorting
With the help of CNNMoney.com, a new performance sorter capable of sorting processed fruits and vegetables with high precision and efficiency was announced yesterday.

Good Practices
The Maryland Department of Agriculture is encouraging fruit and vegetable producers, and handlers to participate in the USDA's GAP and GHP voluntary certification programs, reports the Baltimore Sun.

Get in the Loop
The New Hampshire provides ways to eat more fruits and vegetables that combat any excuses for not consuming enough.

School Ties with Farmers
USA Today explains how one Massachusetts School is joining a growing movement to make sure kids get produce and area farmers get business.

Sweet Fruit
The Carolinian gives healthful and natural ways to satisfy a sweet tooth with fruit.