April 2, 2008

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Town Halls Stretch Across California
By Jeff Oberman, Vice President Trade Relations

United Fresh continued our popular Town Hall meetings last week with visits to Oxnard, Sacramento and Salinas, California.  President Tom Stenzel joined me for the week,  meeting with industry members in town halls, other events, and personal visits.

Beginning in Oxnard, United Fresh Board Member Nelia Alamo of Gills Onions hosted a town hall meeting, luncheon and tour at their fresh-cut processing facility.

Nelia Alamo of Gills Onions greets Niall Kelly from Cool Pak.

Jan Berk of San Miguel Produce and Tom Stenzel speaking during the Oxnard meeting.

Nelia Alamo leads a tour of Gills Onions’
fresh-cut processing facility.

From Oxnard, we headed north for the Salinas Ag Forum, a monthly luncheon discussion held with the industry at the Steinbeck Center.  There, we joined in a discussion with about 200 Salinas area leaders on the future of immigration reform and the labor crisis facing our industry.

Pictured L-R: Tim Driscoll, Valley Pride Custom Harvesting; Mike Saqui, Saqui & Raimondo; Tom Stenzel, United Fresh Produce Association; Mike Johnston, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Monte Lake, Siff & Lake; Crescencio Diaz, Teamsters Local 890 in Salinas.

Keeping the week going strong, Greg Corrigan, Raley’s vice president of produce & floral, hosted a town hall meeting at their retail headquarters in Sacramento.  This meeting provided more than 30 industry members the opportunity to discuss issues ranging from food safety and the recent melon outbreak, to some of the innovations in new technologies that will be on display and discussed in workshops at the United Fresh convention May 4-7 in Las Vegas.

Raley’s Vice President of Produce
Floral Greg Corrigan hosts the
Sacramento town hall meeting.

Town hall participants in Sacramento.

The week came to an end with a town hall in Salinas at the Grower-Shipper Association building where United Fresh’s regional office has been housed since 2001.  Similar to the other events in California, the Salinas event focused on current business, legislative, food safety, and regulatory issues impacting the produce industry.  As Tom and I looked back on the week Friday evening, we recognized again the importance of discussing these issues with our local members in their own areas to truly see their impact on our industry.  We learned a lot about the importance of United Fresh programs and services in the local community, and will take those lessons back in developing new programs to meet member needs.

Kay Filice, Filice Farms and chairwoman of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California Board of Directors, shares perspective at the Salinas meeting.

Tom Stenzel, addressing the crowd during the Salinas Town Hall Meeting.


A special thanks goes to Nelia Alamo and Steve Gill from Gills Onions, and Rob Roy from the Ventura County Agricultural Association, for co-hosting the Oxnard Town Hall meeting; Greg Corrigan from Raleys’ for the Sacramento Town Hall meeting; and Jim Bogart and Kay Filice, representing the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California at the Salinas Town Hall meeting.  For more information about these events and others, please contact me, Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations.

United Fresh Nutrition Leader To Kick-Off California WIC Summit
United Fresh Vice President for Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra will kick-off the California Summit for WIC Partners in Los Angeles on Monday, April 7.  The conference is focused on Making Change Matter: Maximizing the Health Impact of the New WIC Foods.  The addition of fruits and vegetables to WIC could result in dramatic health improvements in communities most impacted by the obesity crisis, not to mention an estimated $500 million/year in new produce sales across the country.  As the state known for its abundant fresh fruits and vegetables and the birthplace of the National 5 A Day Program, California WIC and its retail partners can leverage this opportunity to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for millions of California WIC families, and make change matter.  For more information, please contact Lorelei DiSogra.

COOL Compliance Guide Proves Critical Industry Resource
United Fresh’s new white paper on how to comply with the country of origin labeling law (COOL), due to go into effect September 30, 2008 is continuing to be a highly downloaded educational publication for the industry.  Associate Counsel Autumn Veazey prepared an analysis of likely legal requirements, with advice for every segment of the produce supply chain from grower-shippers to retailers.  The new white paper "What You Need To Know Now About Complying With Country of Origin Labeling Rules" is available free of charge to all United Fresh members, and for a minimal fee of $25 to non-members.  The White Paper can be downloaded by clicking on the box in the right-hand column of this newsletter, or online at www.unitedfresh.org, and here.  For questions, please contact Autumn Veazey.

Connect With Industry Friends at Lucky Strike, Las Vegas!
Continue the fun after the Viva Las Vegas Opening Party on Sunday, May 4 and join us to Strike it Rich in Vegas.  This event, to raise funds for our United Fresh Political Action Committee, will have something for everyone at the famous Las Vegas Lucky Strike Lanes.  Enjoy music, food and drinks, pool tables and hourly give-aways.  And for those that would like to test their competitive edge, come bowl against other United Fresh members and staff in the friendly competition!  Your support will go a long way in raising funds to support congressional candidates who are addressing key policy issues that face the produce industry.  Click here today, or please contact Angela Bezon for more information.

Meet the Winners – Chairman’s Reception & Annual Awards Banquet
Join produce industry colleagues as we gather for our Chairman’s Reception & Annual Awards Banquet.  This year’s event will honor winners of the 2008 Retail Produce Managers Award, the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award, and the United Fresh Technical Award You can read about it the next day, or you can experience the excitement and industry camaraderie first-hand in Las Vegas!  The Chairman’s Reception & Annual Awards Banquet will be held on Tuesday, May 6, and is included in the All-Access Pass.  Register online at www.unitedfreshshows.com.   

You Could Win $25,000
Find out how by buying a ticket for the 2008 "Salute to Leadership" Raffle drawing!  Hosted by the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation, proceeds from this special fundraiser will help support the activities of the Foundation.  You'll be eligible to win: Grand Prize: $25,000 CASH Prize; 2nd Prize: $1,000 Best Buy Gift Certificate; 3rd Prize: Two Round-Trip Airline Tickets to Las Vegas (valued up to $1,000).  Raffle tickets can be purchased for $100 each and there is no limit to the number you can buy today; purchase your tickets today. The raffle drawing will take place at the United Fresh, Las Vegas 2008: Chairman’s Reception & Annual Awards Banquet on Tuesday, May 6.  Please contact Beth Berman for more ticket information.

New Member Welcome
Each week, we welcome our newest partners in building a stronger produce industry: Thanks to all current members for your 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
Shortsighted Subsidies
The Wall Street Journal speaks to the cost of subsidies from the farmer and taxpayer point of view and what is still hoped to be gained by the Farm Bill.

March for Rights

In the name of unity and immigration reform, Cesar Chavez supporters marched in Salinas for farmers’ rights, reports San Jose Mercury News.

Where Are You From?
The Los Angeles Times showcases a documentary of California farm workers that answers where the food, specifically fruits and vegetables, come from.

A change in consumer attitudes toward food safety has rightfully occurred, but it is important to realize cross-contamination and food poisoning is not limited to consumption outside the home, suggests Fast Casual.

Garden Out
Some New Jersey farmers are concerned of the threat state lawmakers’ decisions bring to the Garden State, says the Associated Press.

Banco de Brasil
Bloomberg.com announces that Banco do Brasil SA , Brazil's biggest lender to the agriculture industry, plans to buy stakes in farming companies.

U.S. Grade No. 1
According to the Los Angeles Times, the USDA is proposing increasing the percentage of loose grapes permitted in a bag for purchase without considering the berries defective.

Timing is Everything
The timing of politics surrounding immigration has brought an end to the season for one of the largest tomato growers in the Northeast, shows the New York Times.