August 27, 2009

In Today's Issue:

Legislators Underscore Importance of United Fresh Efforts at Salinas Event

Salinas Visit
California Congressman Sam Farr (center) and Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow (second from right) address students at Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School in Salinas, Calif. Wednesday.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and California Representative Sam Farr joined students at Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School Wednesday to highlight the school's participation in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

The event, which was coordinated with support from United staff, was held in Farr's home district and served to highlight United's support of a national policy promoting a salad bar in every school.

"Today's event was a great opportunity for Senator Stabenow and Congressman Farr to see how effective the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and school salad bars can be as strategies to improve children's access to and increase children's consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables," said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "The lawmakers were also able to get feedback on the programs from the children directly. Especially important was the commitment made today by both legislators to the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. We look forward to working with them in this crucial effort."

Salad Bar
Students, teachers and staff at Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary School showcase the school's new salad bar with Food Service Director Irene Vargas (second row, left), Alisal USD Superintendent Dr. Esperanza Zendejas (second row, third from left), Rep. Sam Farr (back row, third from left), California Department of Education Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction for Nutrition Services Phyllis Bramson-Paul (second row, sixth from right), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (second row, third from right) and United Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra (second row, second from right).

On a three-day informational and listening tour, Stabenow and Farr were joined at the event by Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue and representatives of the California Department of Education and Alisal Unified School District, as well as DiSogra, United's Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther and Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman.

United Fresh continues to promote expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the effectiveness of salad bars in schools at the Washington Public Policy Conference, September 9-11 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Stabenow, Farr, Cardoza, Costa and Hoyer Visit United Members in California's Central Valley

California Visit
Fresno, Calif.-based Fowler Packing Company President Dennis Parnagian (right) showcases the company's capabilities to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) (second from right) and Stabenow's Chief of Staff Amanda Renteria (center) during the Senator's tour of the facility Tuesday. Also included is Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy (second from left) and California Grape and Tree Fruit League President and CEO Barry Bedwell (left).

In central California this week, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA) and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) joined United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther, Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra and Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman for tours of several California United Fresh members.

The group visited Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler, Fowler Packing Company in Fresno, and Fresh Express and Tanimura and Antle in Salinas, as well as the Merced County Fairgrounds to see the operations of United Fresh members and discuss priority issues for the industry, including labor, family businesses and farm bill provisions for produce.

California Visit
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow discusses priorities during a Tuesday visit to Fowler Packing Company in Fresno, Calif.

"It's a significant opportunity for legislators like Senator Stabenow to come out and interact with businesses outside their own district," said Guenther. "Visiting with companies on the ground level, in their respective elements, allows legislators to understand the opportunities and challenges faced by our industry, as well as the direct impact of the legislation that those lawmakers impose in Washington."

In addition to the facility tours, the group attended political fundraising events organized by United members, including California Citrus Mutual, California Grape and Tree Fruit League and Tanimura & Antle.

United Announces Family Business Scholarship Winners
Megan Chedwick, Church Brothers, Salinas, Calif. Julia Inestroza, Gourmet Trading Company, Los Angeles, Calif.
Mascari Scaroni
Nicholas Mascari, Indianapolis Fruit Company, Indianapolis, Ind. David Scaroni, Valley Harvesting and Packing, Heber, Calif.

United Fresh is proud to announce the four recipients of the 2009 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarships.  The 2009 scholarship recipients include: Megan Chedwick, Church Brothers, Salinas, Calif.; Julia Inestroza, Gourmet Trading Company, Los Angeles, Calif; Nicholas Mascari, Indianapolis Fruit Company, Indianapolis, Ind.; and David Scaroni, Valley Harvesting & Packing, Heber, Calif.

The scholarship program provides the opportunity for employees of family-owned businesses to attend the annual United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.  After reviewing applications from numerous geographic regions and industry segments, the Scholarship Advisory Committee selected winners based on criteria including interest in advocacy work, commitment to the produce industry, and overall quality of the application.

"This program provides an important opportunity for members of family businesses to become personally involved in produce industry advocacy and deepen their knowledge of important policy issues," said advisory committee member Steve Ottum of Potandon Produce. "We received a record number of applications this year, which made for a difficult selection process.  We extend our congratulations to this year's winners and thank everyone who applied this year."

Each scholarship recipient will receive complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to this year's Washington Public Policy Conference, September 9-11, 2009 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington. 

"We greatly appreciate the ongoing support of the Caplan family, which makes this program possible," said Victoria Backer, United's senior vice president of member services and foundation. "This is a wonderful opportunity for family businesses to become more engaged in the political process and help shape the future of our industry."

Established in 2001, the scholarship program is made possible through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. to the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation.  The program was founded by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins to expand opportunities for representatives from family businesses to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference and help make a positive difference for the produce industry.  The Foundation accepts new applications for the program each summer.

Secretary Vilsack Announces Availability of Value Added Producer Grants

USDA Rural Development

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week that USDA will soon be accepting applications for approximately $18 million in grants to assist agricultural producers seeking to add value to the commodities they produce.

"These grants strengthen rural economies and create jobs by helping farmers and ranchers add value to their agricultural products by using them for planning activities such as feasibility studies, marketing and business plans, or for working capital," Vilsack said. "This program also supports President Obama's goal to expand our nation's renewable energy resources by helping farmers develop renewable energy from agricultural products."

 "The value added sector is such an important and growing part of our industry, and this effort by USDA will aid value added producers in continuing that growth," said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel.

USDA plans to award planning grants of up to $100,000 and working capital grants of up to $300,000 to successful applicants. Applicants are encouraged to propose projects that use existing agricultural products in non-traditional ways or merge agricultural products with technology in creative ways. Businesses of all sizes may apply, but priority will be given to operators of small and medium-sized family farms - those with average, annual gross sales of less than $700,000.

Applications must be submitted through to the Rural Development state office in the state where the project will be located. A list of state offices is available at Further information on value added grants and other rural programs is available at

United Fresh Meets with Representatives from Australia's Citrus Industry

Australian FlagA delegation from the Australian citrus industry visited with United Fresh staff this week to discuss recent food safety legislation, the Produce Traceability Initiative, and issues impacting the global fresh produce industry. The Australian citrus industry is comprised of more than 2000 citrus growers with annual export earnings of $180 million.

United Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs Kam Quarles and International Member Services Director Melissa Speed specifically addressed the pressing issues of climate change and global harmonization of food safety certification and audit programs with the group.

The delegation, which represented the whole citrus industry supply chain, including representatives from the Australian Embassy; the South Australian Citrus Board;  U.S. importer and marketer of Australian products; and Citrus Australia, a non-profit organization representing citrus growers and affiliated service providers, came to Washington, D.C. to meet with USDA APHIS and the Obama Administration to discuss trade issues and market access. 

Just a Few Hours Left to Help Grow Produce Power in Washington

Produce PowerContributors have just until 9:00 p.m. EDT tonight to pledge their support for the United Fresh Produce Power Fund and receive special recognition at the Washington Public Policy Conference, September 9-11. The fund allows contributors to designate contributions to specific government affairs efforts and top produce industry priorities.

The United Fresh Produce Power Fund makes possible a wide range of activities that support the Association's government affairs programs, including grassroots campaigns and other strategies that complement United's daily work on Capitol Hill, at USDA, FDA and the White House.

"United's efforts on top produce industry priorities have never been more important," said United Fresh Chairman Jim Lemke. "United's policy programs are made possible through the generous support of produce industry leaders, and just this week, the fund enabled a series of meetings in California between industry members and lawmakers, with special emphasis on key members of Congress who are helping to advance United’s objectives on child nutrition and school salad bars. The Produce Power Fund makes this important work possible.”"

For more information, please contact Angela Bezon, political affairs manager at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Webinar to Prepare Attendees for WPPC

WebinarNext month, hundreds of Washington Public Policy Conference attendees will gather in the nation's capital to talk face-to-face with congressional, regulatory and administration officials. In an effort to bestprepare conference-goers for their opportunities in Washington, United Fresh is offering a free webinar to share the latest information on food safety, labor, child nutrition and more.

"This is the produce industry's most important opportunity to talk with leaders in Washington about the issues that are so important to the industry," said United Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. "From promoting a strong and scientific food safety policy to preserving fair labor laws and even providing a salad bar in every school, there is so much to be done on Capitol Hill."

The webinar, scheduled for September 2 at 2 p.m. EDT, is offered only to attendees of the Washington Public Policy Conference who have registered by August 28th. For more information, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

What United Members Are Saying About WPPC

Amy Kunugi

Amy Kunugi
General Manager
Southern Colorado Farms
Center, Colo.

"I had my first experience at the Washington Public Policy Conference in 2008," says Amy. "I was particularly impressed with the background information and training that United provided for those of us that planned to "march" on Capitol Hill for the first time.  I was also impressed by the organization and cooperation that was evident as so many United members from different states met with their respective senators and representatives in such a condensed amount of time.  The access that we were afforded was fantastic and it served to underscore the progress that can be made when a motivated industry comes together.  I agree that when all the different aspects of our industry unite to speak with one voice, we have a much greater impact."

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:

  • SureHarvest, Inc., Soquel, Calif.
  • University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas
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.

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Upcoming Events

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