July 7, 2011

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Greets Passage of U.S.-Mexican Trucking Agreement

The governments of the United States and Mexico signed an agreement this week that will end a 23-month-long conflict resulting in the imposition of rotating retaliatory taxes on American produce entering Mexico. The agreement reduces the tariffs placed on U.S. exports to Mexico by half, with the remaining 50 percent to cease upon the clearance of Mexican shipments to cross the American border.

“This accord is fantastic news for the produce industry, and we are excited to see more trade with Mexico, which provides such a valuable market for American produce,” said United Fresh Director of Government Relations Julie Manes. “United Fresh recognizes and applauds the work of the Department of Transportation and the office of the U.S. Trade Representative for their dedication in pursuing a workable, expedited solution to this standoff that has lingered for too long. As part of the Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs, we’ve worked hand in hand with our partners in the industry and in Washington to provide feedback and inside on this issue and we are very happy that the end is close in sight.”

For more information on the development, please contact Manes at 202-303-3400, ext. 404.

China Fruit and Vegetable Association, United Fresh Meet in Washington to Discuss Synergy

United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer and Vice President of Sustainability Burleson Smith met Thursday afternoon with eight members of the China Fruit and Vegetable Association as part of the group’s visit to Washington, D.C. In addition to CFVA Vice Presidents Wang Rongjiang and Wang Suling, Backer and Smith met with representatives from the Beijing Central Agricultural Products Wholesale Market, Jiangsu Wuxi Sunny Group, Xuzhou Huaihai Vegetable Wholesale Market, Anhui Huangshan Tunxi Agricultural Products Wholesale Market, and the Xiamen Sunshine Agriculture Group.

United Fresh and CFVA discussed the similarities and differences between not only the two associations, but also the two countries produce industries as a whole.

“It was particularly interesting to hear the position that the Chinese produce industry is in right now,” said Smith. “As an industry, they are faced with many of the same challenges that we face here in the States, like how to facilitate the movement of product along the supply chain, and how to manage product from multiple growers.”

The meeting also covered areas in which the two association’s could find greater synergy, foster cooperation, and exchange information, examining the services that each association provides to its members, trade relations between the Chinese and American industries and their respective governments, and trade regulations in both countries.

For more information on United’s global member services, please contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400, ext. 408.

USDA’s Pegg Discusses Specialty Crop Programs, Reiterates Message of PDP Report

Rayne Pegg, administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service defended the safety of fresh produce before the House Agriculture Committee Thursday, when asked about the findings of the agency’s annual Pesticide Data Program (PDP) report. The report, according to Pegg, shows that, while pesticide residues were detected on the fresh produce commodities sampled, all were at or below the tolerances set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pegg’s statement is an affirmation of the United Fresh response to the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Shopper’s Guides released earlier this year by the Environmental Working Group, which contends that the guides unnecessarily alarm consumers and may lead them away from consuming healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition to discussing the findings in the PDP report, Pegg and Rebecca Bech, deputy administrator for plant protection and quarantine with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service addressed other issues critical to the produce and larger specialty crop industry, including pest and disease management, marketing orders, the National Organic Program, marketing orders and agreements, and the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

For audio and video from the hearing, as well as transcripts of Pegg’s and Bech’s remarks, please click here.  

IFPS Elects Stenzel Chairman

Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of United Fresh, is the new president of the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS). Joining Stenzel in the role of vice-chairman is Harrij Schmeitz of Netherlands-based Frug I Com.

“IFPS is a very important association in bringing together produce associations from around the world to work collectively on global produce standards,” Stenzel said.  “We learn from each other; share our individual views and experiences; and work together to increase the efficiency and reliability of the global produce supply chain,”

In addition to the announcement of Stenzel’s election, IFPS also announced that it has been granted Observer Status as an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, providing the produce industry a focal point for interaction regarding global produce standards with the commission. 

Both news items came shortly after the IFPS held its annual meeting May 24 in Rotterdam, during which Board members reviewed progress over the past year and set work plans for committees addressing Product Identification, Information Management, and Food Safety standards. 

The IFPS Board will host its second international forum at the upcoming Fruit Logistica Trade Fair in Berlin in February 2012.  More information on IFPS is available at www.ifpsglobal.com.

United Announces Retirement of Claudia Wenzing, Hiring of Shannon Young

The past week has been one of change at United Fresh as the association announced the retirement of long-time produce veteran Claudia Wenzing as the association’s vice president of business development. Wenzing spent 13 years with the Produce for Better Health Foundation, and the past three with United Fresh.

“In a very short period of time, Claudia has become friend to everyone here, which those of us who have known her for many more years were certain to be the case,” said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. “Her impact on our association and the produce industry overall will be long-lasting both for accomplishments raising funds for important efforts of PBH and the United Fresh Foundation, but also for the personal friendships and relationships established.”

Wenzing leaves the association to spend more time with family, including a new grandchild expected in the coming weeks.

In addition to Wenzing’s retirement, United announced the hiring of Shannon Young to the association’s education manager post. Young comes to United Fresh from the Alexandria, VA-based Council on Social Work Education, where she managed the organization’s educational programs.

A native of Olney, MD, Young holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Radford University in Radford, VA, and lives in Alexandria with her husband, Chris.

Young can be reached at 202-303-3400, ext. 405, or syoung@unitedfresh.org.

United Fresh to Make a Fresh Impact with New Policy Publication

This fall, United Fresh releases the inaugural issue of FreshIMPACT Magazine, a new publication highlighting the association’s extensive public policy work. The magazine will be released in conjunction with the annual United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference, October 3-5, at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

“We are extremely excited about this new opportunity to reach our members in one of our key strength areas,” said United Fresh Vice President of Convention and Industry Relations John Toner. “Fresh Impact puts United’s work on critical policy issues like child nutrition, food safety, and labor and immigration directly in front of key decision makers on Capitol Hill and across the fresh produce industry in a glossy, polished, coffee-table format.”

FreshIMPACT will feature profiles and interviews with lawmakers and Washington policy drivers, administration and federal officials, and industry leaders in the public policy arena.

For information on advertising and marketing opportunities through Fresh IMPACT, contact John Toner at 202-303-3400, ext 424.

Four Reasons to Attend the Washington Public Policy Conference

At the Washington Public Policy Conference, the produce industry unites together to make a difference on critical produce industry issues like food safety, sustainability, labor and immigration and child nutrition. It is imperative that lawmakers in Washington hear what you have to say about these matters, and the Washington Public Policy Conference provides four unique opportunities to make your voice heard.

At the United FreshPAC Dinner, you’ll hear from top policymakers that have the potential to make a real difference in the long- and short-term success of the produce industry.

During the March on Capitol Hill, you’ll head to the House and the Senate to meet with elected officials and their staff members to discuss the industry’s policy agenda and what matters most to your business.

The Management Resource Center is where you’ll visit with companies and government agencies offering exciting new solutions and resources for your business.

Finally, the Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill is where you’ll play your part as the produce industry shines in front of congressional heavy hitters. An annual favorite among lawmakers and staff alike, Fresh Festival gives the produce industry a chance to show off our most unique and flavorful offerings before our members of Congress.

For these and many other reasons to register for the Washington Public Policy Conference, please click here, visit www.unitedfresh.org or call 202-303-3400.

Washington Needs to Hear Your Family Business Perspective!

Four winners of the 2011 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program will help to ensure that the views and the interests of family businesses are represented on Capitol Hill this fall at the annual Washington Public Policy Conference.

Presented by the United Fresh Foundation, the program recognizes up to four family-owned United Fresh member businesses with complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the association's annual public policy summit, October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

"Through the Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship, United Fresh members in family-owned businesses have the opportunity to see how the decisions made in Washington affect businesses of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, throughout the produce industry," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Family businesses stand to gain so much by getting involved here in Washington, and it is so important that they have the ability to come to Capitol Hill, meet with legislators and administration officials and make their views known."

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in honor of their mother, Frieda. The program is designed to increase family business' involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.

Applications are now being accepted for the program, and more information is available by clicking here. Applicants must complete an application and written submission detailing why they want to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference and what they hope to gain from the experience. Applicants must be employed by a family business that is a United Fresh member company in good standing. All applications must be received by July 15. Applications should be sent to the United Fresh Foundation, attention Victoria Backer via email at vbacker@unitedfresh.org; fax to 202-303-3433; or mail to United Fresh Foundation, 1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC, 20006.

For more information about the scholarship program, contact Backer at 202-303-3400 ext. 408, and for more information about the Washington Public Policy Conference, contact United's Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400 ext. 416.

How Much Do You Know About Produce Quality Inspections?

There’s just one more chance this year to take part in United’s popular Produce Inspection Training Program, the produce industry's only USDA-instructed inspection training program. The final session of 2011 will take place September 12-16 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors' Training and Development Center in Fredericksburg, VA.

The hands-on training is designed to help produce industry receivers, handlers, buyers, shippers and sellers understand the complexities of the produce inspection process. The program is offered in two specialized courses: Fundamentals of Produce Inspection and the Commodity Labs course. The two-day Fundamentals course is a prerequisite to the Labs course and focuses on inspection essentials, PACA, sampling procedures, and general market principles. The three-day Commodity Labs program applies the fundamental principles to real world inspections including the five most commonly requested commodities—grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes—with up to seven additional commodities based on the attendees' most common preferences.

Class size is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. The registration fee for the introductory course is $895, $1225 for the advanced course, and $1925 for members for both courses taken together.  If three or more colleagues register for both courses at the same time, each receives a $100 discount. For more information on the program, please contact United Fresh Senior Vice President of Member Services Victoria Backer at 202-303-3400, ext. 408.

Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2011 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 2011 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • Steinbeck Country Produce/Hilltown Packing, Salinas, CA
  • Windset Farms, Delta, BC

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 Fresh's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of 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 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Arch Chemicals, Atlanta, GA

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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