May 14, 2008

In Today's Issue:

House Passes Historic Farm Bill for Produce Industry
In an historic moment for the fruit and vegetable industry, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly this afternoon 318-106 to pass the Farm Bill conference report, including some $3 billion in support of specialty crop priorities to grow fresh produce consumption and the competitiveness of our industry.  The Senate is anticipated to pass the bill either tonight or tomorrow, and forward it to the President, who has threatened to veto the bill.

“Despite the President’s veto threat, the House has passed the Farm Bill with an overwhelming vote, including a majority of Republicans.  We must now work to communicate again to the White House that President Bush should sign this bill which has garnered such a bipartisan majority,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel.  “That was the message we delivered to Secretary of Agriculture Schafer at our convention last week.  If the President carries through with his veto threat, we will work hard to override his veto and pass the bill.”

“I want to thank the hundreds of United Fresh members who have been calling their Congressmen yesterday and today as this vote approached,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president for public policy.  “I don’t believe there is a member of the House who has not been touched by someone within the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.  It is clear that your voices were heard loud and clear.”

“The work is not done, and there’s no time for celebrating one yard short of the end zone.  But, this is a major accomplishment and we intend to keep up the pressure from the fresh fruit and vegetable industry until this bill becomes law,” he said.

The Farm Bill includes more than $1 billion for expansion of the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable School Snack Program to all 50 states, opportunities for research in areas such as food safety, mechanization, genetics, plant breeding and the eradication of harmful pests and diseases, an enhanced Specialty Crop Block Grant program to help producers' compete in the marketplace, and more.  Click here to view the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance’s detailed list of funding and policy highlights from the Conference Report.  For additional information regarding the Farm Bill Conference Report please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400 ext. 409.

Product Recall, Crisis Management Course Goes to Pacific Northwest
The United Fresh Research & Education Foundation is holding its next Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire course, August 26-28 in Yakima, Washington. This popular course has already run in Baltimore, MD, San Francisco, CA and Phoenix, AZ. “A product can be recalled for various reasons and companies need to know how to reduce their liability and take proper actions in each case,” said Amy Philpott, vice president of communications at United Fresh.  Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire is a multi-part course, including a two-day workshop on how to minimize your liability and prevent a product recall from becoming a crisis.  A half day of media training is offered separately, but is currently sold out for the Yakima dates; a waiting list is being formed for the media training part of the course.  Registration for the two-day workshop is open and spaces are available.  For additional registration and housing information, please contact Beth Berman, 202-303-3405.

Meet Your United Fresh Staff: Andrew Marshall
Government Relations Assistant Andrew Marshall is the key administrative contact in the government relations and policy department at United Fresh.  Andrew tracks pending legislation and regulations, prepares reports, communicates with congressional offices, corresponds with the United Fresh Government Relations Council and provides weekly policy updates for our Inside United Fresh newsletter.

Andrew joined United Fresh a year and a half ago after completing a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, College Park.  While a student, Andrew was introduced to the idea of a career in government affairs through an internship with Case New Holland, Inc., an international company specializing in selling and manufacturing agriculture and construction equipment.

Although his two most recent jobs have been in the agricultural industry, Andrew could have not grown up farther from a farm.  In fact, being from Queens, New York, Andrew took the city subway to school each day.  Despite his urban roots, Andrew has quickly familiarized himself with the vast array of legislative and regulatory issues affecting our industry.

When not at work, Andrew enjoys exercising at his local Silver Spring, Maryland gym, playing sports and watching his favorite teams: Maryland Terps and the New York Yankees, Knicks and Jets. He also enjoys traveling and cooking – especially with fresh fruits and vegetables.  Andrew’s favorite fruits are pineapples, peaches, nectarines, watermelon and all varieties of apples. His favorite vegetables include spinach, sweet potatoes, and all varieties of peppers.

Andrew is one of many 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. 

Reggie Brown Receives 2008 Technical Award
Reggie Brown, executive vice president of Florida Tomato Exchange located in Maitland, FL, was awarded the 2008 United Fresh Technical Award last week during the United Fresh Annual Awards Banquet in Las Vegas.  In his introductory remarks, United Fresh President Tom Stenzel said, “Over the past several years, he (Reggie) has worked tirelessly toward unified food safety standards and compliance with good agricultural practices. He worked with growers up the coast from Florida to get their input, and then helped forge a consensus approach to national and international guidelines with grower groups from California to Canada to Mexico.”  In his acceptance remarks, Reggie thanked United Fresh and acknowledged his industry colleagues. “I certainly didn’t do this alone.  There are many people who have worked very hard to bring about effective change,” said Reggie.  “Our food is safe and we as the entire produce industry must ensure that consumers know our food is safe. I’m proud of the [tomato] industry.” Reggie is a member of the United Fresh Government Relations Council, an editor of the Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Tomato Supply Chain, 2nd Edition and a founder of the North American Tomato Trade Working Group (NATTWG).  The annual United Fresh Technical Award honors an individual who has made significant technical contributions to the fresh produce industry in the areas of food safety, food quality, innovative technologies and overall industry image.

Industry Honors Foodservice, Retail Award Winners
United Fresh honored the winners of its 2008 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Program at it Annual Awards Banquet last week in Las Vegas. One chef in each of five business categories was acknowledged for their use of produce in the culinary arts.  The categories and the winners are:

Fine Dining Category:
Chef Tony J. Baker, Montrio Bistro, Monterey, CA

Casual & Family Dining Category:
Chef Reinhard Dorfhuber, Elephant Bar Restaurant, La Mirada, CA

Quick Service Category:
Chef Dan Coudreaut, McDonald’s USA, Oak Brook, IL

Business in Industry & Colleges Category:
Chef Jonathan Davey, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT

Hotels & Healthcare:
Executive Chef Jean-Paul Hascoat, Peconic Landing, Greenport, NY

Chefs Baker, Hascoat and Davey also shared their views on produce trends in foodservice in the “Produce Marketing Track - Foodservice Trends to Explode Produce Sales” Tuesday morning.  The panelist discussed consumer preferences and how they use produce to add value to their meals. The 2008 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award is sponsored by Pro*Act, LLC to honor chefs and their companies for the use of produce in the culinary arts.

Also at the banquet, United Fresh honored the 25 winners of its 2008 Retail Produce Manager Award Program. The winners were recognized for their outstanding efforts to increase produce consumption through everyday excellence in merchandising, special displays and promotions, community service, and commitment to total customer satisfaction.  During the banquet, five “Grand Prize” recipients were announced and received an additional $1,000 cash prize. The grand prize winners were: Gary Clay, Raley’s in Santa Rose, CA; David Meier, Safeway Stores, Inc. in Auburn, CA; John Monahan, Price Chopper Supermarkets in Marlborough, MA; Greg Reinhart, Hy-Vee, Inc. in Marshall, MN; and Julie Rodriguez, Smith’s Food & Drug Center in Bozeman, MT. Several winners also shared their advice on consumer preferences and produce merchandising at the store level during the Produce Marketing Educational Track on Tuesday.  According to the managers, “locally grown” is popular with consumers these days and, in the economic downturn, consumers appear to buying more produce at the supermarket, not less.  The 2008 Retail Produce Manager Award Program is sponsored by Ready Pac Foods, Inc..

Seminar Speakers Address Many Aspects of Food Safety
Attendees most interested in the technical aspects of food safety stayed after the United Fresh show last week to attend the Food Safety & Technical Seminar.  The standing-room only crowd heard how various companies throughout the supply chain are using tests, traceability and new technologies to reduce risk and strengthen food safety systems. Will Daniels, vice president, quality, food safety, and organic integrity, Earthbound Farm, spoke about testing programs in order to enhance food safety.  Drew McDonald, vice president, national quality systems, Taylor Farms, discussed various case studies regarding the detection of pathogens.  William Hanson, PhD, president, Hanson Technologies spoke about new food safety technology systems that screen produce wash water for pathogens.  Willette Crawford PhD, MPH, food scientist, Growers Express, showed attendees the new TRUETRAC™ online operations and data management site that empowers the customer to participate in traceability and to learn more about the food they buy.  Finally, Peter Townsend, vice president & CIO, Driscoll's, discussed his company’s clamshell-level trace initiative.  For more information, contact the seminar moderator and United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety & Technology Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3411.

Leadership Raffle Raises Funds -- and Awareness -- for Foundation
Industry leaders, friends, and family members challenged Lady Luck while helping a good cause. We'd like to extend a special thanks to everyone who bought a ticket for this year's "Salute to Leadership" Raffle and making it a great success.  Spearheaded by the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Alumni Organization, all proceeds raised from the raffle benefit the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation.  During the Annual Awards Banquet at the convention in Las Vegas, Chairman of the United Fresh Foundation, Stephen Griffin, Misionero Vegetables and California Tree Fruit Agreement's Sheri Mierau, Chairman of the Leadership Alumni Organization Board, pulled the winning tickets.  Benjamin Deutsch, Mercury Plastics, won two round trip airline tickets to Las Vegas; Bob Morrissey, National Watermelon Association, took home the $1000 gift card to Best Buy; and Frank Padilla, Costco Wholesale, won the Grand prize of $25,000!  The United Fresh Research & Education Foundation is a not-for-profit organization offering research and education programs to enhance the produce industry's effectiveness, develop leadership skills at all levels of the industry to better meet public needs, advance produce safety and quality, and increase children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.  For more information about the raffle, contact Beth Berman, United Fresh education manager at 202-303-3405.

Headquarters Visitors
Wendy Finch-Weber, Western Growers Association, California

New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • Fresh Tech Solutions, Watsonville, CA
  • North Carolina Farm Bureau, Raleigh, NC
  • United Potato Growers of America, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Rene Produce, Nogales, AZ
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
Produce for Health Care Reform
President and CEO of Safeway Inc. Steve Burd received great applause at the United Fresh Show in Las Vegas for his call that produce is key in refining the nation’s healthcare system, says Sacramento Business Journal.

Soaring Supermarket Prices
Fox’s MarketWatch reveals that grocery prices are impacting overall household purchases in a battle of need versus want.

Bill to Veto
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, President George W. Bush will veto the farm bill agreement, followed by the assessment of a compromise, reports Reuters.

Fruit Chemistry
ScienceDaily announces New Jersey university students using dye from fruit to produce solar energy.

Future Food and Drinks Packaging
Market Wire and release a new market research report on the rapid change and growth food and drink packaging is experiencing.

An Artist Passion
For fruit and vegetable carving, the art is enjoying a new vogue, describes The New York Times.