December 11, 2008

In Today's Issue:

PUBLIC POLICY: Agriculture Representatives Meet with Obama Transition Team
President ElectOn Monday, representatives of the agriculture industry met with President-elect Obama’s Agriculture Transition Team at its Washington, D.C. headquarters. United Fresh participated in this meeting along with many national agriculture associations from meat, dairy, and other commodity group sectors. The two-hour meeting was an opportunity to discuss important issues that the new administration should consider upon taking office in January, as well as current issues under consideration by the Bush Administration that could impact agriculture.

"It was a great opportunity to sit down with President-elect Obama's team and have a candid discussion about critical issues that confront our industry," said Robert Guenther senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. At the meeting, Guenther discussed several public policy areas with the team including fruit and vegetable nutrition policy, the impact of a lack of immigration policy reform on the produce industry, food safety challenges and implementation of the 2008 Farm Bill.

GLOBAL: Lorelei DiSogra to Give Keynote Address at EC Conference in Brussels
European UnionDr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health, will deliver the keynote address on Monday at the European Commission's School Fruit: A Healthy Start for Our Children – Promoting School Fruit Schemes in the European Union conference in Brussels. Representatives from all 27 European Union (EU) countries will participate in the two-day event to exchange views, ideas and experiences on how to design and manage school fruit schemes. "Next week's conference in Brussels puts fresh fruits and vegetables on center stage as a global strategy to reduce childhood obesity," said Lorelei.

On Nov 19, 2008, the European Commission (EC) approved funding of €90 million to expand school fruit and vegetable snack programs to all 27 EU countries after the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture (DG-AGRI) made expansion of the School Fruit Scheme one of its top agricultural policy priorities. The program will provide free fruits and vegetables to school children to promote a healthy lifestyle and fight obesity.

While in Brussels, Lorelei will also meet with DG-AGRI officials and leaders of several European public health consortiums to discuss other nutrition policy initiatives to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. At the end of the week, and at the invitation of German produce industry leaders, Lorelei will address an audience in Dusseldorf, Germany at a 5 am Tag (5 A Day) meeting. Lorelei and program leaders will discuss Germany's launch of a pilot School Fruit Scheme in early 2009.

IMMIGRATION: Judge Delays Social Security “No-Match” Rule until February
U.S. District Court, Northern District of CaliforniaLast week, District Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California refused to lift an injunction against the Bush Administration's revised Social Security “No-Match” Rule until late February, 2009. The initial No-Match rule was to take effect on September 14, 2007. However, the implementation of the rule was delayed due to litigation led by United Fresh, alongside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Roofing Contractors Association and American Nursery and Landscape Association. The lawsuit was filed on the basis that certain procedures, including an analysis of the law's economic impact on small businesses, were not followed.

In the Federal Register on March 24, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a Supplemental Proposed Rulemaking for the No-Match Rule, and on October 23, 2008, DHS announced the Supplemental Final Rule, which was meant to address the procedural issues raised in the lawsuit.

"This decision by the court is a prudent one, as the Supplemental Final Rule appears to have little changed the actual rule that was published last year," said Kam Quarles, vice president of government relations and legislative affairs for United Fresh. "The produce industry believes that enforcement and reform must go hand-in-hand. The procedural flaws that our legal team identified upset that delicate balance and we are pleased that the Court is taking a thorough approach to considering the Administration's revisions." With this court ruling, the incoming Obama Administration could seek to further consideration of the merits of this rule once they take office.

GLOBAL: Freshconex Business Forums Unite Global Leaders from the Fresh-cut Convenience Sector
FreshconexUnited Fresh is proud to partner with Eurofruit Magazine to bring you the Freshconex Business Forums at Freshconex and Fruit Logistica, February 4-6, 2009 in Berlin, Germany. Visitors to Freshconex and Fruit Logistica will have the opportunity to attend the forums for daily educational briefs on cutting-edge innovations in the fresh-cut convenience industry. The forums are open to all attendees and are included in the exhibition entrance fee. Register today for the special Internet fee of €250 and hear leaders in the fresh produce and fresh-cut sectors like Apio/Landec, Nespak, Turatti Srl, ABL Srl, Urschel International, FTNON, Fresh Factory, Nature’s Best, BUNZL Distribution, Best N.V. and Key Technology present the latest technology in packaging and processing fresh-cut produce, opportunities to market and promote fresh-cut salads, fruits, and vegetables and new techniques for improving logistics management.

Don’t miss this opportunity to take part in Freshconex where top players from around the world of fresh-cut convenience meet and do business. For more information, contact Melissa Speed at 202-303-3400 ext. 404.

FOOD SAFETY: Strengthening State and Local Roles in the National Food Safety System
RWJEnhancing State and Local Roles in Food Safety, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored project, held its third and final meeting Friday to review the project's draft final report. The project's working group includes representatives from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as allied associations at the federal, state, regional and local level and various private-sector companies. Representing the fresh produce industry, United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas commended the project organizers Drs. Mike Taylor and Stephanie David of George Washington University on accurately capturing many of the obstacles the U.S. public health system faces today when trying to coordinate and efficiently perform foodborne illness investigations. The draft report provided 19 recommendations to Congress and public health agencies, including a call for the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to lead in the development of " integrated national food safety system that incorporates and enhances the food safety capacity of state and local agencies." The draft report also called for the official establishment of a Food Safety Leadership Council composed of the top food safety officials from CDC, USDA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security and at least an equal number of representatives of state and local food safety agencies. Finally the draft report suggested a five-year integration plan holding HHS and Congress accountable for achieving the goals outlined within. United Fresh will notify members when the final report becomes available. For more information on the project, contact David at 202-303-3400 ext. 411.

MEMBER OUTREACH: United Fresh President, Membership Director Visit Members in New York and New Jersey
United Fresh President Tom Stenzel and Membership Director Miriam Miller spent two days in the Northeast last week meeting with United Fresh members and discussing concerns about all aspects of the produce industry. The team's first stop was the famed Hunts Point Market in The Bronx, where Tom addressed the Market's Board of Directors to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing wholesalers and distributors at the world’s largest produce terminal.
Hunts Point With annual revenue exceeding $2 billion, Hunts Point Terminal is one the busiest produce terminals in the world.

From there, Tom and Miriam traveled across the Hudson to meet with the Eastern Produce Council, where Tom addressed 130 attendees and discussed the implementation of the Country of Origin Labeling rule and other Federal legislation impacting the industry in the coming months.

Rutgers Town Hall Tom addresses attendees at Wednesday’s Rutgers Town Hall meeting.

On Wednesday, Tom and Miriam headed south on I-95 to the Rutgers Food Innovation Center for the final United Fresh Town Hall meeting of the year. Sixty attendees from the South Jersey and Philadelphia area participated in a question-and-answer session with Tom about how to become involved in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), as well as how the industry could be effected by food safety, immigration and other policy issues. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour the Food Innovation Center's new, $8 million Food Business Incubator facility, which opened in October. Many thanks to Al Murray, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for the State of New Jersey, for coordinating this event!

For more information on these events and future Town Hall meetings, please contact Miriam at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

EDUCATION: Bruce Peterson, Bruce Knobeloch to Share Insights at United Fresh Program
Bruce Peterson, President and CEO of Naturipe Farms, formerly with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.Bruce Knobeloch, Vice President of Marketing for River Ranch Fresh Foods, LLC, formerly with Schnuck Markets, Inc.

What's it's really like on the retail side of the produce business? How can produce suppliers apply lessons and strategies learned from the retail industry to improve their business? Find out the answers to these and more as industry leaders Bruce Peterson and Bruce Knobeloch share their thoughts and experiences from the retail and produce industries in the "Reflecting on Retail Strategies: Lessons for Suppliers" session taking place at the 2009 Produce Executive Development Program. Presented by United Fresh & Cornell University, March 8-13, 2009, this is a can't-miss event!

Peterson and Knobeloch are just two of the many powerful speakers you'll hear from at this year's Executive Development Program. The Program will also include in-depth discussions on topics such as changes in food retail and foodservice climate, competitive strategy development, negotiation & conflict resolution, new product development, global food industry trends and supply chain effectiveness, plus a survival guide to financial planning.

This Program is designed for mid- to senior-level executives who are interested in achieving a competitive edge and helping their companies address the key challenges and opportunities faced by today's produce industry. This course has sold out two years in a row, so be sure to register today! Class activities are interactive so enrollment is limited, and registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Early registration discounts end January 5, 2009. For more information or to register, contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400 ext. 408.

FOOD SAFETY: Food Safety the Hot Topic at Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Conference
MobileDr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology, was among the first speakers at this year's Deep South Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Conference in Mobile, Ala. Drawing hundreds of growers, shippers and other representatives of the fresh produce supply chain from Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama, the conference began with a half-day session focused on food safety. "One of the lessons we’ve learned is that, regardless of its safety record today, each fresh produce commodity is one outbreak away from being considered 'high risk,'" David told the audience. "Everyone in the produce supply chain must understand the potential risks and utilize a comprehensive food safety program for each commodity while in their control. The best way to avoid a potential food safety catastrophe is to critically analyze each stage of your operation, have a plan and document that you are following it."

For more information on the presentation, or if you have questions about food safety, contact Dave at 202-303-3400 ext. 411.

New 2009 Chairman's Roundtable Supporters
United Fresh’s Chairman's Roundtable provides extra support for programs in government relations, food safety, nutrition policy and other areas to help grow the produce industry. We are pleased to recognize the following companies who have committed to the Chairman's Roundtable in 2009:
  • California Avocado Commission, Irvine, Calif.
  • Costco Wholesale, Issaquah, Wash.
  • Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc., Coral Gables, Fla.
  • Mexican Haas Avocado Importers Association, Coral Gables, Fla.
Chairman's Roundtable
The Chairman's Roundtable is an opportunity for United Fresh member companies to contribute above and beyond their basic dues. Roundtable members are industry leaders who set the pace in building United's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of the Chairman's Roundtable enjoy special recognition throughout the year for their support.

For more information on the Chairman’s Roundtable, please contact Director of Membership Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.

New Member Welcome
Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:
  • AIRDEX International Inc., Henderson, Nev.
  • Malena Produce, Rio Rico, Ariz.
  • Mexican Haas Avocado Importers Association, Coral Gables, Fla.
  • Universita di Torino, Grugliasco, Italy

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 or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400.

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

News & Views


News and Views

Kansas Governor pulls name from consideration for Ag Secretary

Colorado Rep. and immigration foe retires

Former Ag officials urge bipartisan stance in new Administration

Stenholm says any remake of the UDSA must have food safety focus

Wisconsin holds first annual conference for female farmers


Kenya looks to expand export markets

Canadian Auditor warns of food safety risks in annual report

China to launch four-month food safety campaign

Public health unit gives the all-clear in Ontario E. coli scare

Increased demand for organics in China

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