August 4, 2011

United’s Fresh Impact Tour to Hit Six States and Southern Ontario this Month

Beginning Monday, August 8, United Fresh will host five Town Hall meetings and visit dozens of member farms and facilities during a two-week Fresh Impact Tour to six states and southern Ontario, Canada, August 8-23. United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel and senior staff will travel through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Leamington, Ontario, to highlight the impact made by United Fresh members in shaping national policy on key issues such as food safety, ensuring a legal workforce, increasing produce consumption, and more.

“When United Fresh members work together across the supply chain, our impact is magnified in shaping national policy,” Stenzel said. “This will be a great opportunity to highlight the work of our members throughout these eastern growing regions, and see their operations in the middle of production season. We want to show that members across the country have a real voice in setting national industry policy. While the produce industry may have a larger population in some other production regions, each of our members in these states can have a huge impact on national issues by working with their members of Congress and joining in the industry’s annual Washington Public Policy Conference this October.”

The Fresh Impact Tour will begin in western New York on Monday, August 8, with visits to growers, packers and local retailers along the way. The tour will then make stops in the Garden State for visits with local distributors in northern New Jersey before heading south to the Vineland growing regions to see a wide range of fruit and vegetable producers, brokers and local companies. The tour ends its first week moving west to central Pennsylvania, visiting with fruit and vegetable growers and fresh-cut processors. The second week of the Fresh Impact Tour stops in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, as well as a meeting with greenhouse producers in Leamington, Ontario.

The Fresh Impact Tour Town Hall Meetings are scheduled as follows:

Captain Jack’s Driftwood Lounge, Sodus Point, NY – Monday, August 8, 12:00 noon
Merighi’s Savoy Inn, Vineland, NJ – Wednesday, August 10, 4:30 p.m.
The Varsity Club, Willard, OH – Tuesday, August 16, 11:30 a.m.
The Roma Club, Leamington, ON – Wednesday, August 17, 11:30 a.m.
Grand Rapids, MI – Thursday, August 18, 1:00 p.m.

Throughout the trip, visits will include numerous fruit and vegetable growers, distributors and retailers in each of these areas, and members and staff will be posting updates and photos to the United Fresh Twitter and Facebook pages to facilitate engagement and discussion among the entire industry.

The Fresh Impact Tour takes its name from United’s current program promoting member involvement in the public policy process. More than 500 industry members are expected to descend on Washington, D.C., in October for this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference, which will feature individual congressional meetings as well as general sessions with key leaders. In September, United will debut its first Fresh Impact Magazine, an annual publication designed to showcase how industry public policy efforts are helping members grow their sales and profitability.

Follow the Fresh Impact Tour on Facebook and Twitter!

House Ag Chair Frank Lucas to Keynote Wednesday Breakfast at Washington Public Policy Conference

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, will keynote the Washington Public Policy Conference’s Breakfast and General Session on Wednesday, October 5, exploring the key issues likely to emerge as Congress begins to consider the reauthorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, more commonly known as the Farm Bill.

“Given the importance of maintaining the standing of fruits and vegetables in the 2012 Farm Bill, the opportunity to hear from Chairman Lucas is a great thing for our industry and for the leaders in attendance at this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference,” said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. “United Fresh has a long history of working with House Agriculture Committee leadership on issues vital to the specialty crop industry, and we look forward to continuing that relationship with Chairman Lucas.”

Lucas represents Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District and is currently in his tenth term as a member of Congress. Lucas’ district is one of the largest agricultural regions in the nation. It includes all or portions of 32 counties in northern and western Oklahoma and takes up almost half the state’s land mass. Prior to his election to the House in 1994, Lucas served for five and a half years in the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.

“Throughout his tenure, Chairman Lucas has proven himself to be a champion on agriculture issues, both for his home state and for the nation,” added Guenther. “We look forward to his insight on the upcoming Farm Bill, as well as his perspectives on food safety, nutrition, and on how the recent debt reduction efforts will impact funding for agriculture initiatives.”

Lucas’ address on Wednesday adds to a busy schedule of events for the annual Washington Public Policy Conference, including discussions with federal regulators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administration and the popular Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill. Additionally, this year’s event includes the most visits to congressional offices on Capitol Hill by conference attendees in the event’s history.

Registration options and more information for the Washington Public Policy Conference is available at

E-Verify Legislation Stalls Before Committee Action

A bill mandating that employers use the federal E-Verify system to verify worker eligibility is on hold, at least for now. This week, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, postponed committee action on the controversial bill that would have significant repercussions throughout agriculture.

In a letter last week to Chairman Smith, United Fresh and agriculture organizations from across the country made it clear that any legislation passed must include a practical guest worker program.

“It is imperative that any mandatory E-Verify legislation incorporate provisions for a workable, efficient worker program that encompasses all of U.S. agriculture,” the groups wrote in the letter.

In addition, United Fresh and other associations have been conducting a series of targeted fly-ins over the last two months focusing on members of the Judiciary Committee and the House leadership team.

“These actions have been helpful in ensuring that Congress realizes the impact this legislation would have on the agriculture workforce,” said United’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. “We support providing businesses with the tools necessary to ensure a stable and legal workforce, but a program that does not consider or couple these tools with a efficient worker program could be devastating long term to the agriculture stakeholders across the country.”

For a full transcript of the letter, please click here.

Congress Adjourns for August Break After Forcing Through Deficit Reduction Plan

After a much publicized and intense negotiations on raising the debt ceiling while addressing the country’s ongoing budgetary problems, Congress will adjourn for its traditional August recess on August 8. As has been reported, President Barack Obama this week signed a deficit reduction package that will initially increase the debt ceiling while simultaneously cutting current spending levels over the next 10 years. After this initial requirement, Congress will create a unique process to address further cuts, accompanied by increases in the debt ceiling, that will be fleshed out over the remainder of the year.

In particular, Congress will need to come up with a plan by December 23 to cut federal spending by up to $1.5 trillion. Moving forward, this could have significant impact on issues such as the Farm Bill, nutrition programs, food safety and other priorities of the fresh produce industry.

“With a process now in place for deficit reduction negotiations, the Farm Bill and the Agriculture Committees in Congress will now be faced with some difficult questions and several options of how to proceed with the development of the next Farm Bill,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. “In addition, it is clear this legislation that passed this week changes the playing field on a number of important issues related to the fresh produce industry.”

Here is a quick rundown on the process following the president’s signing of the deficit reduction package:

  • Within 14 days of enactment, Joint Committee members must be selected
  • Within 45 days of enactment, the Joint Committee must hold its first meeting
  • By October 14, House and Senate Committees may transmit their respective recommendations for deficit reduction to the Joint Committee
  • By November 23, the Joint Committee must vote on its report containing detailed statements of findings, conclusions and recommendations, and a Congressional Budget Office estimate of the savings, along with legislative language to carry out the recommendations. The Joint Committee’s recommendations can include entitlements and revenues.
  • By December 23, the House and Senate must vote up or down on the Joint Committee’s recommendations, without amendments. If the Committee’s recommendations achieve at least $1.5 trillion in cuts and are enacted by Congress, the debt ceiling will be raised by $1.5 trillion. If the committee’s bill is enacted and produces between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion in cuts, the debt limit will be raised dollar-for-dollar. If the committee fails to produce a bill, its bill is not enacted, or it produces less than $1.2 trillion in cuts, the debt limit will increase by $1.2 trillion. Regardless of the amount of the debt limit increase, it would be subject to a disapproval vote which would, in turn, be subject to a presidential veto.
  • The Joint Committee terminates on January 31, 2012

UC Davis Study Casts Doubt on EWG’s Dirty Dozen

While many may have bought in to the Environmental Working Group’s recent “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide levels on fruits and vegetables, a group of food scientists in the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis, were not so easily swayed. A new report from UC Davis, long among the leading institutions for specialty crop research, challenges the conclusions drawn by the EWG in its annual list.
“The methodology used to create the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list does not appear to follow any established scientific procedures,” contends the scientists in the study, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Toxicology.
Additionally, the study casts considerable doubt on the credibility of the EWG list as a whole.
 “Results from this study strongly suggest that consumer exposures to the ten most common pesticides found on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ commodities are several orders of magnitude below levels required to cause any biological effect … The EWG methodology also does not appear to be capable of justifying the claim that ‘consumers can lower their pesticide consumption by nearly four fifths by avoiding conventionally-grown varieties of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables’ since no effort to quantify consumer exposure was made.”
The UC Davis study is only the latest to question the accuracy of reports like the Dirty Dozen. In May 2009, the Society of Toxicology and the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University released the results of a survey of 937 toxicologists, in which nearly 80 percent of those polled felt that EWG and similar groups overstate the risks posed by pesticides.

Tanimura & Antle Salad Smarts Program to Benefit Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools

Salad Smarts, a new healthy eating program from Salinas, CA-based Tanimura & Antle will support United Fresh Foundation’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. T& A will promote Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools through packaging, print and online trade and a promotional website featuring the company’s line of Artisan Lettuce. 

“Our intention is to raise the visibility of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools and educate our consumers on how they, too, can become involved in teaching our next generation how to make healthier food choices,” said Tanimura & Antle CEO Rick Antle.

 “We appreciate Tanimura & Antle’s leadership in the produce department to engage the public in our efforts to support healthier school meals and donate salad bars to schools,” said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra.  “We are pleased that 800 schools have received salad bars during the last year, but there are more than 500 schools nation-wide that have applied for salad bars and are still awaiting funding.”

T&A will make a donation to the United Fresh Foundation to support Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools at the conclusion of the Salad Smarts promotion on October 31. For more information on how your company can support Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools please contact United’s Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3400, ext. 409.

Corporate Champion to Be Honored at Washington Public Policy Conference

At the Washington Public Policy Conference this fall, United Fresh will honor one outstanding company for its work championing the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. United’s Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one company that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry.

“It was really an honor for C.H. Robinson to receive the 2010 United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award,” said Jim Lemke, the company’s senior vice president and former United Fresh chairman. “Organizationally and personally, we embrace the importance of being an advocate for the produce industry and carrying a unified industry message to government. We encourage our staff to be knowledgeable and aware of the important regulatory issues that affect our marketplace and our key employees participate regionally and nationally with government to positively affect our industry. I hope that companies throughout the supply chain will take a moment to submit nominations for this award that honors organizations that not only talk the talk, but more importantly walk the walk.”

“These corporate citizens are leaders that make an impact and drive the industry forward,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “We look forward to accepting and reviewing the nominations in what will assuredly be, as it has been for the past decade, a very competitive, devoted and deserving group.”

The award recipient is selected based on the candidate’s demonstration of outstanding support for public policy advocacy with federally-elected leaders; diligent work on federal policy objectives to advance the fresh produce industry; active involvement with produce industry political initiatives such as the Washington Public Policy Conference, Grassroots Action Network and United FreshPAC; and United Fresh membership. The recipient of this year’s award will be announced at the 2011 Washington Public Policy Conference.

Past Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award winners include:

2010 - C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
2009 - Pro*Act, LLC
2008 - Walter P. Rawl & Sons
2007 - New York Apple Association, Inc.
2006 - Sunkist Growers, Inc.
2005 - L & M Companies
2004 - Produce for Better Health Foundation
2003 - Tanimura & Antle
2002 - Capital City Fruit Company, Inc

For more information on the United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award, contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext. 416.

Have You Heard What Congressman Sam Farr Has to Say About the Washington Public Policy Conference?

How about National Watermelon Association’ Bob Morrissey, or Pear Bureau Northwest’s Kevin Moffitt?

Produce leaders and policymakers alike know that United’s annual Washington Public Policy Conference is the only place that unites the industry’s most prominent leaders with legislators on Capitol Hill and regulators from across the federal government.

Click here for more information on how your company can benefit from this one-of-a-kind opportunity to make a real impact for the produce industry in Washington.

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:

  • Giant Eagle Markets, Crafton, PA

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 Senior Director of Membership Miriam Miller Wolk at 202-303-3410.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Oser Communications Group, Tucson, AZ

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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