October 14, 2010

In Today's Issue:

October a Big Month for Salad Bar Campaign

Dole's Michael Cavallero and United's Lorelei DiSogra view a salad bar at United Fresh 2010 in Las Vegas.
In the next two weeks, the United Fresh will make stops in Minnesota and the District of Columbia to take part in donation ceremonies for new salad bars donated as part of the United Fresh Foundation's A Salad Bar in Every School campaign.

In the Twin Cities, United Fresh will team up with Immediate Past Chairman Jim Lemke of C.H. Robinson and representatives from St. Paul Public Schools at Community of Peace Academy Charter School to celebrate the donation of three salad bars to schools in St. Paul.

In the nation's capital, representatives from United Fresh will join leaders from the Dole Food Company along with DC and federal government officials at CentroNía's DC Bilingual School to commemorate Dole's donation of four salad bars to schools in the District.

"We are looking forward to the upcoming celebrations in St. Paul and in Washington, and are particularly excited that kids in these schools will begin the school year with new salad bars and a focus on eating more fruits and vegetables through A Salad Bar in Every School," said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "We can’t thank Dole and C.H. Robinson enough for their generosity and commitment to providing healthier options for kids at lunchtime."

Be sure to check back all this month at Inside United Fresh for photos and updates from the events, and for more information on how to help put a salad bar in every school, contact United’s Claudia Wenzing at 202-303-3400, ext. 415.

Representatives from USDA, White House, United Fresh Celebrate National School Lunch Week, DC Farm to School Week

Marvel Farms' David Marvel delivers watermelons to students at Washington, DC’s Lab School.

United Fresh member David Marvel of Marvel Farms in Harrington, DE, visited the CentroNía DC Bilingual School in Washington Tuesday, providing fresh fruits and vegetables to students and answering questions about fruits and vegetables as part of DC Farm to School Week. The event occurs in conjunction with National School Lunch Week, an initiative designed to help children learn where their food comes from and the lifelong benefits of a healthy diet.

Also as part of the National School Lunch Week and DC Farm to School Week festivities, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass also paid a visit to DC’s Savoy Elementary School, highlighting the Obama Administration's priorities for improving school meals and advancing the health of American children through opportunities like USDA's HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC), an initiative that recognizes schools for excellence in nutrition and physical activity.

"As schools across the country celebrate National School Lunch Week, we recognize how important it is that our children be healthy and active, that they not go hungry, and that they have access to nutritious meals," said Merrigan. "Schools like Savoy Elementary are making great strides to improve the nutrition and health of their kids and we applaud their efforts to make the next generation the healthiest and best educated in our history."

The HUSSC is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Schools participating in the HUSSC voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity.

"This week, schools in Washington, DC will serve healthy, locally-grown foods in school meals, and coordinate farm field trips and chef demonstrations to help kids connect with where their food comes from," said Kass. "And across the nation, the First Lady's Let's Move! campaign is working to improve the health and well-being of children so that our kids can reach their full potential in school and beyond."

For more on DC Farm to School week, visit www.dcfarmtoschool.org/week.

Following a Successful WPPC, United Leadership Reflects on Challenges Posed by Upcoming Farm Bill

United Fresh Chairman Steffanie Smith addresses attendees at the 2010 Washington Public Policy Conference.

This week, United Fresh leaders representing the four major market segments shared their thoughts on the road ahead for the produce industry as it moves from the Washington Public Policy Conference into discussions on the upcoming Farm Bill and beyond. United Fresh Chairman Steffanie Smith of River Point Farms, Immediate Past Chairman Jim Lemke of C.H. Robinson Worldwide and Chairman-elect Reggie Griffin of the Kroger Company participated in the discussion that appeared in The Packer on Monday, October 11. An excerpt from that article is reprinted below, and the full text can be found here.

...We also know that solutions won’t be realized by working alone. We’ve got to collectively strive for solutions that bridge market segments and bring benefits to everyone.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), who spoke at United’s conference, used the farm bill legislative battle to illustrate the game-changing potential of working together. He said the 2008 farm bill achieved so much for the produce industry because we were united.

We were more organized than ever before, even to the surprise of other crop groups, and won significant victories on block grants, research, nutrition and other legislative priorities.

Based on the produce industry’s landmark gains in the 2008 farm bill, Cardoza predicts the competition for agricultural programs in the 2011 farm bill will be especially fierce in a very tight budget environment.

He believes that to defend the gains we made in 2008, the industry must be assertive in seeking support for the critical programs we need.

We'll also continue in our coordinating role for the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, working with allied industry associations to ensure broad representation and leverage on farm bill initiatives that enhance the business environment for fresh produce, foster key research programs, fund produce industry projects and support nutrition and feeding programs that drive produce consumption and contribute to a healthier America.

For the full text of the article, please click here.

Legislative Committee of Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Meets to Begin Work on Upcoming Farm Bill

In the wake of calls for unity and progress on the upcoming Farm Bill at last month's Washington Public Policy Conference, United Fresh hosted a planning meeting Tuesday of the new Legislative Committee of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.

"As the first meeting of the Legislative Committee, we wanted to use today to get everyone connected and on the same page as we move forward with our priorities in discussing the upcoming Farm Bill," said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther, who co-chairs the Legislative Committee along with Western Growers Association's Cathy Enright,

During the meeting, the committee was able to review recent decisions made by the SCFBA Steering Committee, as well as discuss participation in the recently-formed Horticulture, Research, and Commodity Title Working Groups within the Alliance.

The Legislative Committee is comprised of 44 representatives of commodity boards and allied associations, as well as individual companies. The committee will work on shaping the legislative direction pursued by the SCFBA as Congress begins work on the 2011 Farm Bill.

For more information on the Legislative Committee or on the SCFBA, please contact United's Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3400, ext. 407.

USDA Announces $2M in Grants for Child Nutrition Research

This week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $2 million in research awards for research into behavioral economics to improve nutrition and health outcomes associated with participation in USDA Child Nutrition Programs. The marquee accomplishment of the grant is the creation of the Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs at Cornell University, with which United Fresh works closely on numerous industry issues, as well as United's Produce Executive Development Program. In addition to the center at Cornell,  the grants will fund other research projects in Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

"USDA's Food and Nutrition Service and Economic Research Service (ERS) have partnered to undertake a bold initiative to help schools and child care facilities promote healthy eating for our children by conducting innovative, promising, and practical research," said Vilsack. "Findings from this emerging field of research - behavioral economics - could lead to significant improvements in the diets of millions of children across America."

USDA's Child Nutrition Programs - including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program serve more than 31 million children who eat school lunch and 11 million who eat school breakfast each school day. Because of their major impact on the diet and health of American children, the Child Nutrition Programs are a cornerstone of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation.

Growers, shippers, wholesalers and distributors will also see benefits from this new approach to child nutrition.

"Much in the same way as United's A Salad Bar in Every School campaign," said Untied Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, "... strategies that increase consumption in school lunchrooms mean new school foodservice customers and tangible increases in produce sales. Given the number of students that are served under the auspices of the Child Nutrition Programs, this development is very much a win-win for both schoolchildren and the produce industry."

The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs will, lead and coordinate research on the application of behavioral economic theory to child nutrition program operations and activities; expand the network of social scientists who participate in such research and disseminate information obtained through its research program to its stakeholders, which include other researchers, policy and program officials and the general public.

A complete listing of awards is available here.

Heading to Fruit Logistica? Deadline Approaching for United Fresh Headquarters Hotel Booking

United Fresh has designated the Berlin Marriott Hotel as its headquarters hotel during the 2011 Fruit Logistica and FreshConex Exposition, February 9-11 in Berlin, Germany. All United members and friends are invited to book rooms within the United Fresh block at the discounted rate of EUR175 per night, which includes breakfast.  

"A headquarters hotel provides our members from around the world with a central meeting place and with the Berlin International Film Festival being held at the same time as the Fruit Logistica and FreshConex, this hotel block is truly a great member benefit," said Jeff Oberman, vice president of membership for United Fresh.

The room block is limited, so members are encouraged to book as soon as possible before the October 15 deadline.

During the exposition, United Fresh will host a membership pavilion that will serve as an important destination center for United Fresh members. In addition, United will once again partner with Fresh Convenience magazine to deliver daily educational sessions in the FreshConex Business Forums. This year's forums will feature presentations on new marketing opportunities for foodservice, fresh produce convenience and cutting-edge technologies. United will also continue its tradition of hosting a Global Reception at the trade fair for members, visitors and guests in the member pavilion.

Click here to link directly to United's reservation page for the Berlin Marriott. For more information on United's activities at Fruit Logistica and FreshConex, please contact Oberman at 831-422-0940.

Fall in the Air as United Fresh Wraps Up Summer of New Additions, Wedding Bells
As the weather turns crisp, the United Fresh staff puts the finishing touches on a summer that saw multiple new additions to the United Fresh family. Three babies and four weddings highlighted a summer of change for many staffers at United's Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters.

On June 19, Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer and husband Nick welcomed baby Eden Amelia Backer, followed by Maxwell Kingsbury Howard, who was born to Director of Meetings and Events Leslie Howard and husband Justin on June 30, and Anna Riley Kaszowicz, who arrived on August 12, just in time for football season for IT guru David Kaszowicz and wife Jamie.

  Eden Amelia Backer

  Maxwell Kingsbury Howard

  Anna Riley Kaszowicz

Blushing brides and nervous grooms also graced the United Fresh hallways this summer, with three weddings on three consecutive weekends. Communications Manager Patrick Delaney and Katie Hennessy were married in Alexandria, VA, May 29; Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner tied the knot with Amy Carle June 5 in Brant Lake, NY; and Convention Services Coordinator Jill Grigg married Josh Mersfelder in Raleigh, NC, June 12. To cap off the wedding season, Political Affairs Manager Angela Bezon wed Chetan Tiwari in Elba, NY, July 24.

  Patrick and Katie Delaney

  John and Amy Toner

  Jill and Josh Mersfelder

  Angela and Chetan Tiwari

Congratulations to the newest members of the United Fresh family.

Meet Your Board of Directors

Barry Bedwell
President and CEO
California Grape and Tree Fruit League
Fresno, CA

California Grape and Tree Fruit League’s Barry Bedwell with grandson and future soccer star Ethan.

What experiences help to shape your leadership style? How do you use those experiences and personality traits throughout the day?

I believe that the single biggest factor in my leadership style was formed by my participation in the California Agricultural Leadership program. In 1983-84 I was part of Class XIII and count that experience as not only the most informative but the most enjoyable as well. I never forget that in representation of growers and shippers that theirs is a voluntary decision to be part of our organization and it’s their hard earned money that is being put to work. Communicating value is always paramount.

Are you a California guy originally? Organizationally and personally, what about the CGTFL brought you there?

 I was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley in Madera. While my background and education are as a CPA, I have always enjoyed working for production agriculture. First 13 years in heading a grower-owned cooperative that had the responsibility of marketing winegrapes and now this now at the League going on eight years in doing public policy work. Farmers are inherently honest and hardworking. They are exactly the kind of people that you can represent and get true satisfaction.

How long has your organization been around?

The origins of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League go all the way back to 1921 with the California Grower’s and Shipper’s Protective League in northern California along with the California Grape Growers and Shippers Association that was formed in 1936. The two organizations formally merged in 1948 to become the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, representing the fresh table grape and deciduous tree fruit communities.

What are you working on right now?

The continuing 45 percent retaliatory tariff by Mexico on table grapes is a major problem for our fresh grape members. We went from 5.5 million boxes of fresh California grapes shipped in 2008 before the tariff to 1.6 million, a 70 percent decrease, in 2009. This was caused by the cessation of funding by the Obama Administration for a pilot program for Mexican trucks into the United States. This issue is now entering its second year with no clear resolution in sight. United Fresh, along with regional associations such as the League, continue to place a high priority on finding a solution and getting the Administration to honor its commitments under NAFTA so that the tariff can be removed.
What are some of the challenges the League has faced in the past year?

The League has a very strong grassroots network of member committees to prioritize policy and to direct staff. These twelve policy committees then feed recommendations to a fifty-person Board of Directors and nine-member Executive Committee. This structure keeps staff closely aligned with the primary concerns of membership through constant feedback and communication. Major challenges for our membership on a state level this past year have included invasive species issues and resulting quarantines, efforts to strip farmworkers of their right to a secret ballot when it comes to deciding if they wish to be represented by a collective bargaining organization, burdensome cost increases associated with air and water regulations and attempts to change the overtime compensation rules for farmworkers.

Of the issues that we deal with as an industry (food safety, child nutrition, sustainability, labor, etc.), which strikes a chord with you the most and why?

These federal-level issues you have mentioned are a primary reason why we feel so strongly about being a member in United Fresh and the need for regional associations to move forward in a cooperative and conjunctive manner with United to represent the interests of the entire produce community. United’s work with the various industry segment boards as well as the councils, particularly in our case the Government Relations Council, is of primary importance in achieving these goals. In regard to your specific question about issues, while they are all of concern to our members, the issue of labor in relation to immigration reform as well as attempts at card check at the national level would be at the forefront.

As a representative organization, how do you balance issues that have been long-term fights with those gaining momentum on the horizon?

 A great example here in California is the long-term issue of water availability versus the short-term issue of, say, card check. You always have to understand the different member’s perspectives given their own particular circumstances. The goal is always to arrive at consensus, not necessarily unanimity, and then be able to move ahead with those in the minority understanding the overall position taken and the overall goals of the association.

What is one thing that your industry peers don’t know about the League?

One of the original leaders and head of the California Grower’s and Shipper’s Protective League in 1922, Frank H. Buck, Jr., was also a five-term California congressman as a New Deal Democrat. He passed away in office in 1942.

How about yourself?

While I love California wine, I am even crazier about popcorn and the different varieties you can find around the country. Wine and popcorn have much in common when it comes to taste descriptors and most people don’t realize the many yellow, white, red, purple and black varieties that all have different taste profiles and characteristics. And you never put anything but sea salt on them.

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