July 24, 2008

In Today's Issue:

WPPC 2008 Means Business – How You Can Profit From Policy Victories
Even though my career has been spent fighting for the food industry in the trenches of Washington, D.C., I know that many times our conversations can seem like policy wonks talking to bureaucrats, with little to do with your real business.  (Heck, sometimes this newsletter even sounds like that!)  But I also know that the policy victories we’ve achieved this year really can turn into dollars and cents for your business.  That’s why we’ve added a new session at this year’s WPPC to help companies see how you personally can profit from the changes United has worked for.  Are you ready to increase sales of your commodity or brand to WIC moms and their kids?  They’re coming to stores in the next year with monthly coupons for free fruits and vegetables, and I guarantee you someone will win a lot of new business by serving these moms well.  What about the new grant programs and research funding in the Farm Bill?  We’ve made sure these programs aren’t just for the university professors and associations like us, but now private companies can get grants for food safety enhancements, investment in new technologies, and projects to build your competitiveness.  Want to find out how?  Come to this year’s WPPC not only to lobby Congress and make your voice heard, come to see how all these efforts can pay off in your individual business.  Be sure to register today!

  Tom Stenzel

Congress to Dig Into Salmonella Outbreak
Three separate committee hearings are now scheduled in the House of Representatives next week to examine the salmonella outbreak, what went wrong in the investigation, and lessons learned for the future.  “We’ve worked closely with all three committees to help them understand the consequences of this outbreak investigation on everything from public health and consumer confidence in government to financial impact on industry members who had nothing to do with the outbreak,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president for public policy.  Hearings will be held by subcommittees of the House Agriculture Committee, House Appropriations Committee, and House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday and Thursday, July 30-31.  A number of produce industry leaders have been called to testify at the hearings, joining representatives of FDA, CDC, consumer advocacy groups, academia and other stakeholders.  “I’m expecting tough questioning by each of these committees, not only of government officials but of industry as well,” said United President Tom Stenzel.  “Several members of Congress have jumped to the conclusion that industry traceability was a major problem in this outbreak, but we’ve got to show them that traceability actually worked.  When government tracked tomatoes back to multiple sources, they should have immediately realized that there was no common point of contamination, and they were simply looking for the wrong thing.” For more information, contact Robert at 202-303-3409.

School Nutrition Conference Focuses on Fresh
The School Nutrition Association’s Annual Conference brought 8,000 school food service and nutrition professionals together this week to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  United Fresh Vice President for Nutrition and Health Dr Lorelei DiSogra spoke at one of the first sessions, “A Fresh Look at the Fruit and Vegetable Program.”  During her presentation, Lorelei highlighted the program’s benefits for increasing children’s fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, as well as best practices, partnerships and the global expansion of school fruit and vegetable snack programs as a strategy to reduce childhood obesity. USDA officials explained how the recent Farm Bill legislation expanded the popular Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program nationally.  Through the program, each funded school will receive $50- $75 per student, each year, to provide a fresh fruit and vegetable snack; approximately 1,300 to 1,400 schools will be participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program this school year. USDA also hosted an informal Monday evening workshop to continue the discussion on effective implementation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.  To facilitate marketing and partnership opportunities for the produce industry, United Fresh is compiling a list of the funded schools in each state.  For more information, contact Lorelei.

Last Chance to Apply for Scholarship Program
Family business employees have until July 28 to submit their applications for the 2008 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program. This exclusive program awards up to four scholarships for employees of United Fresh member, family-owned businesses to attend United Fresh's Washington Public Policy Conference (WPPC).  The scholarship winners will receive complimentary airfare, hotel, and registration to attend WPPC, September 10-12, 2008 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C. and will be recognized at the conference.  The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's to the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation with a goal to increase family business involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.  Applicants for the scholarship must be employed by a family business that is a United Fresh member company in good standing.  To download a copy of the application, click here. For more information about program, contact Beth Berman at 202-303-3405.  For more information about WPPC, or to register, contact United Fresh Government Relations Assistant Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.

New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:

  • Barlow and Associates, Annapolis, MD
  • Independent Purchasing Cooperative, Miami, FL
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
U.S. Offers a Subsidy Concession at Trade Talks
The New York Times reports that the United States took its first bold step in slicing $1.4 billion from a previous offer to limit contentious, trade-distorting subsidies to American farmers.  Susan, C. Schwab, the United States Trade Representative, told a news conference that Washington was prepared to rewrite elements of its recently passed farm bill to ensure that American subsidies deemed to unfairly enhance the competitiveness of American farmers were limited to $15 billion annually.

Schafer Announces An Additional $202.5 Million For Two Voluntary Conservation Programs
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, announced that an additional $200 million will be made available through the 2008 Farm Bill to help farmers and ranchers nationwide to solve natural resource problems through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). An additional $2.5 million will be available for Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) in 16 states.

Missouri crops Threatened by Japanese Beetles
Agriculture Online reports that Japanese beetles are emerging as a threat to field crops across Missouri, according to Wayne Bailey, University of Missouri Extension entomologist.  The beetles are still not a major crop pest in Missouri, Bailey said, but that may soon change as their range continues to expand.

Tiny Bug Threatens California Citrus Industry
Last Friday, The Washington Post reported that border agents set up hundreds of traps on the California-Mexico line in an aggressive campaign to stop a tiny bug from bringing in a disease farmers say could wipe out the $1.3 billion citrus industry here.

Demand For Locally Grown Food Increases
The FruitandVeggieguru.com reports that with local produce prices lower than shipped produce, demand for locally grown vegetables has gone up dramatically.  A local Virginia man states that "We don't know what we're getting when we buy it from other countries and all that.”