September 3, 2009

In Today's Issue:

FDA Commissioner Hamburg, Representative Sam Farr to Address Food Safety, Child Nutrition, at WPPC

Dr. Hamburg          Rep. Sam Farr

Next week's Washington Public Policy Conference will feature two leading voices on critical produce industry priorities: U.S. FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg and U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA). Dr. Hamburg will deliver a keynote address outlining the importance of continued diligence on food safety at the Friday breakfast general session. Rep. Farr will address attendees on the importance fresh fruits and vegetables in school nutrition and the potential impact of salad bars in schools during Thursday's luncheon general session.

"Both Congressman Farr and Commissioner Hamburg have shown leadership in working cooperatively with the industry to advance United's critical priorities on child nutrition and food safety. Given the importance and potential impact of the food safety discussion and reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act in Congress, this is an outstanding opportunity for United's members to hear directly from these leaders from the Obama Administration and the Congress," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Both food safety and child nutrition have long been top priorities for United Fresh and we remain committed to working with Congressman Farr and Commissioner Hamburg to pass sound, science-based food safety legislation and improve the health of American kids by providing wholesome, fresh and safe fruits and vegetables in the lunchroom."

In addition to hearing Dr. Hamburg's remarks, conference attendees may also participate in a private, interactive town hall meeting with FDA officials.  Rep. Farr has been invited to attend Wednesday's Fresh Festival, where United will showcase a school salad bar that symbolizes United's policy goal of a salad bar in every school in the U.S.

For more information or to register for this year's Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

CNN Pundit Tells United Members "Bring Stories, Not Statistics" to Capitol Hill

Paul Begala As a preview of his remarks at the Washington Public Policy Conference on Sept. 12, Former Clinton White House aide Paul Begala, offers advice for United Fresh members in an interview with United’s Ray Gilmer.  Begala served as senior strategist for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign in 1992 and appears as a political analyst on CNN. Following is an excerpt of the complete interview, which appears in this week's issue of The Packer.  For more information or to register for WPPC, please click here.

Gilmer: What kind of reputation and clout does ag have [in Washington]?

Begala: Agriculture is very important. When I was in the White House, our president was from Arkansas, which has a tremendous agricultural base. President Clinton knew a lot of people in agriculture in his state. For President Obama, his time when he served as a senator from Illinois, the key to his political strength was not just Chicago but downstate as well, which includes a lot of wonderful agricultural communities.

Gilmer: The food safety bill passed the House of Representatives. We anticipate the Senate will be able to take it up this fall. Do you think Congress is ready to pass legislation that will improve the nation's food safety?

Begala: Food safety is something that becomes very emotional, not only for families, but also for politicians. In the Clinton Administration, our focus was more on food safety associated with meat. I happened to be with President Clinton when he called the family of a child who had died from eating a burger at a fast food place. And that prompted us to do a whole lot more on food safety on meat.

Gilmer: It seems that produce has received much of the attention lately.

Begala: That's right. More recently, we've had the spinach issues, and then the jalapeños, which they first blamed on tomatoes. That's an example of where we need to make the system better.

Gilmer: Any advice you can share (for people coming to Capitol Hill)?

Begala: This may be counter-intuitive. When they show up, I wouldn't bring a briefcase full of statistics. I might bring a box of tomatoes and I'd bring a head full of stories. You know, politicians each have an expertise in something, but they all have an expertise in human nature - that's how they got into the business of politics. They like stories. So tell them a particular story about a farmer and what he or she is going through, and how that politician can make their life better. Personal stories will resonate with a politician and stick in his or her mind much longer than a statistic ever will.

I think sometimes produce is more invisible. It is sometimes neglected, and we can't let that happen. One of the best ways is to tell stories about folks from home and bring that box of tomatoes up to Capitol Hill.

Record Number of Attendees Prepare to Storm Washington for WPPC

WPPCThe number of registrations for next week's Washington Public Policy Conference has surpassed all previous years, according to United President and CEO Tom Stenzel.

"When you're trying to drive real policy change on Capitol Hill, bigger is most definitely better," said Stenzel. "Having more than 425 dedicated and determined industry professionals pursuing mutual goals here in Washington has the potential to create huge benefits for members, including our push for fair and equitable standards for labor organization, salad bars in every school, and sound, science-based food safety policy."

The three-day event kicks off on Wednesday with the annual Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill and wraps up on Friday with a series of special tours and briefings, including the U.S. Capitol, Canadian Embassy and the Food and Drug Administration facility in College Park, Md.

For more information or to register for this year's Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Washington-Area Food Bank to Receive Produce from Fresh Festival

Washington's D.C. Central KitchenExcess fruits and vegetables from next week's Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill will be packaged and donated to Washington's D.C. Central Kitchen, said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel on Tuesday.

"We are fortunate enough to share the bounty of our industry with lawmakers and their staffs during Fresh Festival, but we want to make sure that these products don’t go to waste," said Stenzel. "We are happy to see this produce go to such a worthwhile cause."

D.C. Central Kitchen will collect the unused fruits and vegetables from the event, which will be held Thursday night at the Cannon House Office Building. The donation was established with help from United Fresh Membership Director Miriam Miller, who is a frequent volunteer with the organization.

For more on the D.C. Central Kitchen, please visit, and for more information or to register for this year's Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

United Fresh to Entertain WPPC Attendees at Nationals Park

NationalsIn addition to a full slate of activities on Capitol Hill, attendees at this year's Washington Public Policy Conference will have the added enjoyment of watching the World Series champion and division-leading Philadelphia Phillies take on the hometown favorite Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.

"We couldn't be more excited about this year's event," said Angela Bezon, United's manager of political affairs. "Not only will this year's attendees be able to make a real difference on produce policy in Washington, they'll be able to do so from the best seat in the nicest ballpark in baseball."

The event will be held Thursday, September 10, with all proceeds to benefit the United FreshPAC, which helps elect pro-produce candidates. All United FreshPAC funds support members of Congress who support the fresh fruit and vegetable industry on issues important to United Fresh members.

"It is vital that the produce industry participates in growing a successful PAC to give our industry a voice and actively work to advance the produce industry's interests," said Bezon. "Great events like the one coming up at WPPC give our members the opportunity to affect great change, and have a great time doing it!"

To register, contact Angela at 202-303-3400 ext. 416 or click here.

Webinar Prepares Attendees for Important Work to Be Done

WPPC Webinar
United Fresh staff participate in Wednesday's informational webinar.

Several members of United’s senior staff led more than 70 attendees to next week's Washington Public Policy Conference through an instructional webinar on key pieces of United’s policy priorities yesterday.

United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther, Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra and Vice President of Government Relations and Legislative Affairs Kam Quarles gave attendees valuable background on issues that will be focal points during next week's conference. Discussed during the webinar was United's push for a salad bar in every school, the drive for passage of strong and science-based food safety policy, and the continued need to preserve the secret ballot in order to ensure balanced and fair labor negotiations.

"The webinar was extremely well-received, and it was a great opportunity to give a basic primer on these key issues that mean so much to United and the industry as a whole," said Guenther. "Many times we see issues such as these and we know where the industry stands, but we may not understand why they are so important. This webinar gave us the opportunity to convey that importance."

For more information or to register for the Washington Public Policy Conference, contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Management Resource Center to Provide Solutions for Driving Business Success

Management Resource CenterUnited's newest member benefit, the Management Resource Center will launch at next week's Washington Public Policy Conference, providing attendees unprecedented access to companies and government agencies offering solutions and resources for a wide range of businesses.

"The MRC is designed to help companies navigate through complex issues and discuss solutions to today's challenges," said United Vice President of Sales and MRC creator John Toner.

The MRC will feature displays allowing for face-to-face interaction among attendees and sponsors. More than 30 companies and government agencies will be on hand including:

  • Accu-Label, Inc.
  • AgCode, Inc.
  • AgWorks Solutions LLC.
  • Bayer CropScience
  • bioMérieux
  • Blue Book Services
  • CHEP
  • Delta Technology & Software LLC
  • DuPont Qualicon
  • Famous Software LLC
  • FoodLogiq
  • GS1 US
  • Hyland Software
  • HarvestMark
  • IFCO Systems
  • iGPS (Intelligent Global Pooling Systems)
  • Integrated Knowledge Group, Inc.
  • International Paper
  • KPG Solutions, Inc
  • Lowry Computer Products
  • Moss Adams LLP
  • Produce Careers Inc.
  • RedLine Solutions, Inc.
  • Sensitech
  • Spokane Software Systems, Inc.
  • University of Illinois - MarketMaker Program
  • USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service
  • VideoJet Technologies

For more information on the MRC, please contact John Toner at 202-303-3400 ext. 424, and for more information or to register for the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Bezon at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

Last Call for 2009 Produce Inspection Training Program

USDAUnited Fresh and USDA will hold the final Produce Inspection Training Program for 2009, September 21-25.  This hands-on training course is designed to help produce industry receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers and sellers understand the fundamentals of the produce inspection process.

The week-long course includes a two-day course: "Introduction to Produce Inspection," and the three-day "Advanced Produce Inspection" course.  The introductory course covers key topics such as PACA, quality vs. condition, standards and tolerances, FV-300 certificates, sampling procedures and more.  The advanced course is primarily focused on commodity-specific instruction in the lab including the five most commonly requested commodities: grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes, and up to 10 additional commodities based on the attendees' most common preferences.

Attendees may register for the course here or by contacting Julie Jacocks, United education coordinator at 202-303-3400 ext. 405. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-served registration basis.  For United Fresh members, the registration fee is $875 for the introductory course, $1195 for advanced, or $1875 for both.  Registration fees include the training seminar and all course materials.

AMS Announces Schedule for NLGMA Hearings

AMSUSDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced the schedule for several hearings on the proposed National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (NLGMA). The dates and locations, posted in the Federal Register, are:

  • September 22-24 in Monterey, Calif.
  • September 30 and October 1 in Jacksonville, Fla.
  • October 6 in Columbus, Ohio
  • October 8 in Denver, Colo.
  • October 14 and 15 in Yuma Ariz.
  • October 20 in Syracuse, N.Y.
  • October 22 in Charlotte, N.C.

At the hearings, USDA officials will hear testimony and collect data from growers, handlers and other stakeholders regarding the NLGMA, including potential benefits, costs and administration. United members wishing to participate in the hearings are advised to contact United to learn more about the information being requested by USDA.

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

The complete Federal Register notice can be accessed here. For more information contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3409 or Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3425.

United Chairman, Staff Reach Out to Idaho Industry

IGSAUnited Fresh President Tom Stenzel and Chairman Jim Lemke of C.H. Robinson are in the mountains of Idaho this week for the 81st annual Sun Valley convention of the Idaho Grower Shippers Association. The United contingent will address the group during Friday's breakfast session, where they will provide an update on key industry issues. In addition, United's Vice President of Supply Chain Management Dan Vache led a discussion on the Produce Traceability Initiative during a convention workshop yesterday.

"The IGSA is one of the great regional associations serving our industry, and we've always enjoyed supporting their efforts," Stenzel said. "It has been a pleasure to work new IGSA President Travis Blacker this year, who's been a strong advocate for his members following the retirement of their long-time leader Dave Smith.  We also greatly appreciate the commitment of the IGSA board of directors, led by Dave Beesley, to maintain a strong national presence working on behalf of our entire industry."

For more information on the IGSA, log on to

United Staff Address Traceability and Food Safety at Pacific Northwest Conference

Northwest ConferenceDr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology and Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management stopped in Wenatchee, Wash. last week to address a meeting of the Pacific Northwest Food Safety Committee.

After a tour of several apple operations in the Wenatchee and Columbia River area, Vaché delivered the day's keynote address on the upcoming third milestone of the Produce Traceability Initiative. Vaché also discussed general aspects of the PTI and its goal to create an action plan for the produce industry in order to adopt effective whole chain traceability by 2012.

Following Vaché’s presentation, Dr. Gombas discussed the activities of United's Food Safety and Technology Council and its work on GAPs and audit harmonization. Gombas also discussed the formation of multiple working groups to research methods of streamlining the harmonization process.

For more on United's work in the fields of food safety and traceability, log on to

New Member Welcome

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

  • Brassica Protection Products, Baltimore, Md.
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

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