June 25, 2008

In Today's Issue:

FDA Continues to Investigate Salmonella saintpaul Outbreak
Last week the U. S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) finished its traceback investigation on tomatoes thought to be linked to the Salmonella saintpaul outbreak. The traceback led FDA to farms in both Mexico and Florida and FDA has been investigating points along both traceback pathways since last Friday. Over the weekend FDA also updated its list of areas not associated with this outbreak to include various Mexican states. In addition, FDA also announced that a production date certificate is no longer needed for tomatoes from the state of Baja California (Norte). United Fresh is in regular contact with FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We are also taking calls from the media, giving interviews and working to correct misinformation. If you have any questions, please contact Amy Philpott or Dr. David Gombas.

Produce Industry Urged to Participate in USDA Listening Sessions
Every five years Congress reauthorizes all federal child nutrition programs, including the school lunch and breakfast programs, which include fruits and vegetables. It's time to speak up and let government know the importance of increasing fruits and vegetables in these programs. Over the next few months, USDA will hold listening sessions in Austin (July 15), Baltimore (August 6), San Francisco (August 6), Atlanta (August 20), Chicago (September 10), and Denver (September 11) to gather input. United Fresh is coordinating member participation in these listening sessions and we want you! We can help by providing talking points and drafting testimony for individual members to present. If you're interested in testifying at one of the listening sessions, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health, at ldisogra@unitedfresh.org or 202-303-3403. Registration is required to participate in these listening sessions. Please contact Lorelei or Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407 if you have any questions about how to register. Please help make fruits and vegetables a high priority in the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation and give children across the country greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables at school.

Obama vs McCain? Who’s Best for the Produce Industry?
Don't miss the unique opportunity to join in the "Produce Industry Presidential Debate" on September 12 at the United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference in Washington D.C. During the conference, representatives from the Obama and McCain presidential campaigns will go head-to-head debating key business, agriculture and social issues that will dominate the Fall election season. Attendees will hear first-hand the candidates' positions on issues that matter to the produce industry. You won't get this type of inside briefing anywhere else! In addition to the presidential debate, be sure to register today to secure your place in produce industry briefings at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USDA, or Congressional visits on Capitol Hill. To see a schedule of events or to register visit United Fresh website, or contact United Fresh Grassroots and Policy Manager Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

United Briefs National Grocers Association Board on Traceability
United Fresh President Tom Stenzel met with the National Grocers Association Board of Directors on Monday in Chicago to brief members on the Produce Traceability Initiative cosponsored by United Fresh, PMA and CPMA. "Wholesale grocers and independent retailers will play a critical role in implementing total supply chain traceability for produce," Tom said. "We had a really good dialogue on the challenges of traceability in produce, and ways the whole supply chain needs to work together to drive a new business model for our industry. From NGA Chairman Mike Jackson of SUPERVALU, to other wholesale grocers, to single store independent operators, the NGA Board showed unanimous recognition of the urgent need to enhance traceability." Tom also was able to spend time with many of the Board members talking about the recent Salmonella outbreak and answering their questions about the tomato supply chain and increasing sales for tomatoes in the coming weeks. For more information on the traceability initiative, contact Tom or Dr. David Gombas at dgombas@unitedfresh.org.

New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • Freshpack Produce, Inc., Denver, CO
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, joberman@unitedfresh.org.

News and Views
Good Health Starts with Fruits and Veggies
According to Sally Squires, in the Washington Post, 21st-century scientists have started to realize the power of produce!  Both vegetables and fruits provide many benefits that create a healthy human body.  From substances that help preserve vision to potent substances that seem to protect against cancer. 

Florida strikes Everglades Purchase Deal
On June 24th The Eyewitness News reported that in Wellington, Florida, the nation’s largest producer of cane sugar reached an agreement to get out of business and sell almost 300 square miles in the Everglades to the state of Florida for $1.75 billion.  This is one of the largest conservation deals in U.S. history!

USDA Signs Agreement with Philippines
On June 24, 2008 USDA’s Agriculture Secretary, Ed Schafer, signed a memorandum of agreement with Philippine Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap to promote agricultural trade and investment between the two countries.

Michigan Governor Requests Federal Disaster Assistance for Farmers
On June 23rd Governor Jennifer M. Granholm officially requested federal disaster assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Secretary Ed Schafer, for farmers in 55 Michigan counties who are facing fruit, vegetable, and other frost-sensitive crop losses because of several severe frosts and freezes this spring.