August 20, 2009

In Today's Issue:


United Fresh to Feature Salad Bar at Capitol Hill Event to Advocate National School Salad Bar Policy

Salad Bar

During September's Washington Public Policy Conference, United Fresh will feature a salad bar stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables, illustrating to lawmakers United's initiative promoting a national school salad bar policy.

"This is certainly a great opportunity to advance policy that directly affects the health of so many young Americans," said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "Placing a salad bar in front of so many lawmakers shows them how salad bars can be an effective tool for increasing produce consumption and promoting healthy eating habits among students."

The salad bar will be featured at Wednesday's Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill in the Cannon House Office Building.

"Research has proven that, when presented with the option of a salad bar, children will increase their intake of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables," said DiSogra. "We are hoping that by providing the same options to lawmakers in the House, salad bars will become a standard menu offering in every school cafeteria."

Following the public policy conference, United Fresh will donate the equipment to a Washington-area school.

"United is pleased to contribute our salad bar to a local school," said Ray Gilmer, United's vice president of communications. "Working with school officials, we can track the salad bar's impact on students' produce consumption and demonstrate to policymakers the efficacy of the salad bar strategy.”

United Fresh looks to build on the success of the Federal Fruit and Vegetable Snack program and kids' love of fruits and vegetables with a salad bar in more than 100,000 schools across the United States.

For more information about the National School Salad Bar Policy, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400 and for more on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.


DHS to Eliminate No-Match Rule

Laborers

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security published in the Federal Register its notice of intent to rescind the Social Security No-Match Rule, marking the end of a long legal and regulatory battle over one of the most controversial immigration enforcement efforts of the Bush Administration.

Originally due to take effect on September 14, 2007, the implementation of the rule was delayed by 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.

Under the original rule, employers would have been required to act as an enforcement arm of the federal government.  The burden of fines and possible criminal prosecution would have been placed upon growers, labor contractors, and other organizations.


United Fresh Joins Produce Industry Groups in Response to Tribune Residues Story

Chicago TribuneIn a letter to the editors at the Chicago Tribune, United Fresh joined other produce industry organizations in clarifying several aspects of the newspaper's August 12 story on pesticide residues. The industry letter questioned the story’s conclusions about the actual risk posed by residues on fruits and vegetables, saying "...a child, a teen or an adult would have to eat 400 to nearly 16,000 servings a day to reach the science-based no effect level."

The Tribune story was based on USDA data and independent testing commissioned by the newspaper on several commodities. The letter to the editor is scheduled to run in the August 24 edition of the Tribune.

"Just the fact that pesticides are detectable doesn't mean they have any impact on public health," said David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety & technology at United Fresh. "The U.S. agriculture industry has among the best controls of residues anywhere in the world and a decade of USDA monitoring confirms that. All the major food service and retail companies require the same level of control for imported produce.  U.S. consumers should trust that the produce is safe from pesticides." 

"The USDA Pesticide Data Program's executive summary clearly states that over 99% of the foods analyzed did not contain residues above the safety tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency," said the August 17 letter. 

Also signing the letter to the Tribune: the Alliance for Food and Farming, Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers Association.  For more information, please contact United Vice President of Communications Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3425.


Immigration, Food Safety on Tap for United President at Texas Produce Convention Town Hall

Texas Produce Association United Fresh President Tom Stenzel moderates a town hall discussion on industry issues at the Texas Produce Convention in Austin today. Stenzel joins a panel of produce industry leaders in discussing important food safety, immigration, labor and marketing issues.

"The Texas produce industry has always been a leading sector of our industry, both in domestic production and as an increasingly important gateway for Mexican produce," Stenzel said. "We count a large number of members in this region, and it's always a pleasure to meet with our Texas colleagues to talk about issues most important to their businesses."


Sustainability Conference Highlights United Members, Industry Efforts

FMIJeff Oberman, United's vice president of membership, took part in the Food Marketing Institute’s second annual Food Industry Sustainability Summit this week in San Francisco.

The summit brought together leading retail chains, produce companies, distributors and producers of grocery products as well as suppliers of products and services in order to address the growing issue of sustainability within the retail community.

United Fresh members Bud Floyd of C.H. Robinson, David Lively of The Organically Grown Company and David Stanton of Natureworks, LLC made presentations showcasing the produce industry's spearheading of efforts on sustainability solutions that satisfy the entire supply chain.

"The summit showcased the powerful impact that United can have through our new Center for Produce Sustainability," said Jeff.

Highlighted throughout the conference was the significance of government tax incentives and grant opportunities for companies at the forefront of sustainable infrastructure and operations investments.

"We hope that United members and others in the industry will get involved with this important effort. The upcoming Washington Public Policy Conference will provide a great opportunity for to discuss these benefits directly with members of Congress."  For more information, please contact Jeff at 831-422-0940.


Industry Webinar Touts Benefits of National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement

SpinachMore than 200 industry members, representing growers, marketers, retailers and others participated in a national webinar Wednesday (Aug. 19) to share information about a proposed National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA). Participants represented Texas, Arizona, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Wyoming and several other states. The NLGMA would implement best practices and a corresponding verification program that could reduce the potential for microbial contamination in leafy greens.

"We had a great turnout for this informational webinar," said Robert Guenther, United's senior VP of public policy, who was a presenter for the online session. "It served as a valuable tool for addressing questions about the NLGMA and how it could improve the safety of leafy green vegetables."

The webinar presentation included information about the value of the agreement for growers and buyers, how it would be administered, expenses, responsibilities and its implementation in relation to possible food safety legislation.

The proponent group for the NLGMA include: Arizona Farm Bureau, California Farm Bureau, California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, Georgia Farm Bureau, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, Leafy Greens Council, Produce Marketing Association, Texas Vegetable Association, United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers.

In response to the industry request to establish the agreement, the USDA will soon solicit input from stakeholders and conduct public hearings. A draft agreement is ready for comment and review from all stakeholders at www.nlgma.org. This web site also provides additional information to all interested parties including the proponent letter to the USDA. For more information, contact United's Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.


USDA Expands Loan Program to Include Storage Facilities for Fruit and Vegetables

FSAThis week, the USDA Farm Service Agency announced that it will expand the Farm Storage Facility Loan program to include cold-storage facilities for fruits and vegetables. According to the FSA, "the program provides low-interest financing for producers to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities."

"We are very pleased that USDA has expanded this program," said United Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. "Any program that makes it easier for members of our industry to get the things they need to grow a successful business is a step in the right direction."

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was given the authority to make storage for additional commodities eligible for financing under the program, which previously included facilities for corn, soybeans and other commodity crops, pulse crops, hay and renewable biomass.

Click here for more information on the FSA announcement, and for a fact sheet on the Farm Storage Facility Loan Program, please click here. For questions, please contact USDA-FSA's DeAnn Allen at 202-720-9889.


United Fresh to Twitter Live from WPPC

Twitter In order to provide members with the most up-to-date information from this year's Washington Public Policy Conference, United Fresh will provide live updates on conference activities on the association's Twitter feed, which can be found at www.twitter.com/unitedfresh.

One of the newest and most popular social networking sites on the web, Twitter is a "micro-blog" that allows users to post 140-character messages complete with links.

"Ours is a rapidly modernizing industry," said United's communication manager Patrick Delaney. "We see innovation daily in so many facets of the fresh produce industry, and we're proud to take part in that ongoing modernization. Twitter has become a great tool for distributing information quickly to those who need and want to know, and we look forward to providing members with updated information with this new technology."

To follow United's updates on Twitter, log on to www.twitter.com and create a profile. Then log on to www.twitter.com/unitedfresh and click "Follow." For assistance or questions, please contact Patrick at 202-303-3400 ext. 417.

For more information about the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Popular Recall Training Course Comes to Sunshine State

RecallUnited Fresh and Syngenta are teamed once again to help the produce industry take control and learn how to minimize the impact of a recall with Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire, October 27-29, in West Palm Beach, Fla.

This specialized training program is a two-day course that focuses on helping attendees understand the fundamentals of a product recall, including individual and corporate responsibilities, the role of the FDA, how to limit individual and corporate liability and manage customer expectations. It also takes an in-depth look at how to build a customized communication plan in the event of a recall, and how to effectively communicate to the industry, customers, consumers and the media.

In addition to the two-day training course, United Fresh is offering a separate, customized media training session immediately following the recall training. Designed to prepare attendees for the rigors of a real-life interview, program staff will stress the importance of adeptly navigating an interview, delivering the necessary messages and staying on point.

"This course is designed for everyone on your recall team including your management, technical, food safety, sales, marketing and communications staff," said Ray Gilmer, vice president, communications. "It combines recall protocols and communication management principles to ensure that your entire staff works together effectively and efficiently during a product recall."

Those interested in attending may reserve limited space in the training program by clicking here.  For more information and to read what past attendees have said about the program, click here, or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh education coordinator, at 202-303-3400 ext. 405.

What United Members Are Saying About WPPC

Nelia Alamo

Nelia Alamo
Director, Sales and Marketing
Gills Onions
Oxnard, Calif.

"The WPPC is very important to support as an industry," says Nelia. "The decisions being made in Washington DC have a direct impact on each of our businesses, so it's important to work together collectively so that we can help impact those decisions. I encourage everyone to attend even just one WPPC to experience for themselves just how effective it is. United Fresh does a great job representing our industry on its own, but together with United we have a greater chance of making a powerful impact on our own future."

For more on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Charleston/Orwig, Hartland, Wisc.
  • The FruitGuys, San Francisco, Calif.
  • Hansen Farms, LLC, Stanley, Ny.
  • Hyland Software, Westlake, Ohio
  • Sky Plus Investment, San Antonio, Texas
  • Tippmann Group, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Welcome
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 at 831-422-0940 or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events


News & Views

U.S. NEWS:

News and Views

Specter eyes compromise on Employee Free Choice Act

Louisiana inmates grow, gather crops to feed the hungry

USDA, HHS announce new strategies to keep America's food supply safe

North Carolina farm group strikes a blow for ag labor

US awaits a reform of immigration laws

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

Citrus greening disease discovered in Mexico

India's food industry held back by cold storage shortfall

Peru on track for export growth

Australia debuts cancer-fighting broccoli

NZ to launch kiwifruit carbon study


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