January 19, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Congress Tackles Farm Bill, Labor and Other Issues

Congress returned this week with a host of issues confronting them related to the economy, environment, international issues, and of course with an eye on the November 2012 elections. As the second session of the 112th Congress swings into gear, United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther offers an inside look at the issues that impact the fresh produce industry: the 2012 Farm Bill, immigration, transportation and regulatory actions.

The 2008 Farm Bill created important opportunities for the fruit and vegetable industry with more than $3 billion in federal investments related to pest and disease programs, targeted research projects, nutrition programs aimed at increasing access to fruit and vegetables, and state block grants focusing on marketing and regulatory activities at the state and local level. With the failure of the “super-committee” to agree on a deficit reduction plan, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees face a daunting task of completing work on reauthorizing the Farm Bill, which is set to expire on September 30 of this year. The critical questions will be if both of these committees will be able to complete their task of rewriting this important bill between now and September, and how Congress can build on the foundation of investment they provided the fruit and vegetable industry in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Immigration is another policy issue that could take further shape in 2012. The House of Representatives may try to reinvigorate their attempts to pass mandatory E-Verify legislation this year in the face of mounting pressures on domestic jobs and strengthening border control. Last year, many in the fresh produce industry and the larger agricultural community helped beat back attempts to move mandatory E-Verify legislation through the House of Representatives, calling for a workable agriculture guest-worker program. Legislators have introduced a myriad of agriculture guest-worker proposals that will be evaluated on their potential to implement long-term solutions for fruit and vegetable producers.

Congress also seems poised to address highway infrastructure issues by attempting to pass a Highway Transportation Reauthorization bill this year. For the fresh produce industry, hours of service and weight restrictions on trucks will be important policy areas. United Fresh will remain engaged in these discussions as this legislation begins to take shape.

Finally, how Congress addresses new or pending regulatory requirements on businesses will be a far-reaching issue. United will be monitoring action on pending rules related to food safety, environmental regulatory requirements related to farm dust and endangered species, and nutrition regulations to address healthy food options.

As always, United Fresh will continue to be involved in the issues that are critical to our members.

Produce Transportation Best Practices Released

The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) has released best practice guidelines for the transportation of produce. The document integrates multiple existing transportation guidelines into one best practices document that can be used throughout North America to provide guidance for seamless product movement and to ensure the ongoing vitality of the carrier sector. The guidelines were reviewed and endorsed by the Blue Book and the Dispute Resolution Corporation (DRC) to ensure compliance with industry trading guidelines for North America.

The 25-member NAPTWG represents fresh produce transportation stakeholders from associations and industry groups across North America. The working group is chaired by David Dever, United Fresh Board of Directors member and president and CEO of Sun World International. Dan Vaché, United’s vice president of supply chain management, also provides leadership for the working group.

“The new guidelines represent an incredible volume of work by industry associations and produce organizations involved in the transport of fresh produce,” said Dever. “We all know how crucial ensuring the vitality of our carrier industry is to the long-term viability of the North American produce industry, and this is one tool to support that.”

The NAPTWG compilation of best practice guidelines is intended to be an evolving resource to guide efficiency in produce transportation. The document is available free of charge to the produce industry and carriers at www.naptwg.org.

Let United Fresh Treat You to Exceptional Dining at Dallas’ Finest Restaurants

Register today for United Fresh 2012 and you’ll be automatically entered for United’s Taste of Dallas giveaway! You could win a gift certificate to one of the 50 best restaurants in Dallas.

Congratulations to this week’s winners! With true Louisiana style seafood at Pappadeaux’s, premium quality steaks at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, or legendary sizzling fajitas at Pappasito’s Cantina, flavor abounds at the always popular Pappas Restaurants.

  • Pappa’s Bros. Steakhouse – Andy Shoemaker, Taylor Farms
  • Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen – Todd Penza, Pinto Brothers
  • Pappasito’s Cantina – Bob Swartwout, R.S. Hanline

Register now to be eligible to win a gift certificate to next week’s featured restaurants: Mercury Grill, Mi Cocina and Hillstone.

Mercury Grill
serves New American cuisine prepared with Mediterranean and French influences. The Grill has been named Restaurant of the Year and continues to delight guests with their casually elegant atmosphere and delightful dishes.

Mi Cocina
uses only the highest quality ingredients in their traditional Mexican dishes, designed with an enthusiasm you can taste in that extra kick of flavor. The restaurant started out small with 12 tables, but has become so popular it now brings quality Mexican cuisine to 17 locations.

sets the bar for American fine-dining, with a well-rounded menu that includes a thick hickory bacon burger, a famous French dip aus jus, and traditional barbeque pork ribs. An upscale restaurant with a local flair, Hillstone is sure to be a treasured experience.

Every Thursday through April 26, 2012, United Fresh will draw three lucky winners from the United Fresh 2012 registered attendee list. Each winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to one of Dallas’ finest restaurants, courtesy of our promotional sponsor, FreshPoint Dallas.

Watch for next week’s Inside United Fresh to see if you’re a winner.

United Discusses Value of Farm Bill for Local Growers at Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware

Julie Manes addresses local growers in DE.

Julie Manes, United Fresh director of government relations, spoke at the Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware as the group celebrated Delaware Agriculture Week. Manes presented timely updates on the current status of the Farm Bill and addressed how the upcoming legislation will affect the produce industry. She outlined priorities for the produce industry, including opportunities to further build upon the successes of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance in the 2008 Farm Bill. The Alliance was a major driver behind the inclusion of specialty crop provisions in that legislation, and has reconvened and presented priorities to key agriculture committee members in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

The event in Delaware underscored the importance of fruit and vegetables in the state, where grants totaling $585,000 have helped increase competitiveness and profitability of producers. Farm Bill programs also help provide fresh produce to 69 elementary schools in Delaware, as well as $2.3 million in vouchers for fruit and vegetables through the WIC program.

Register This Week to Save on Produce Executive Development Program!

Early-bird registration is now open for the sixth annual Produce Executive Development Program. Register before Friday, January 20 to save over $500 on tuition!

Presented by the United Fresh Foundation in partnership with the Cornell University Food Industry Management Program, the course focuses on issues critical to both personal development and the larger challenges and opportunities faced by today’s produce industry executives.

The program is an intense, five-day program for mid- to senior-level executives led by Cornell faculty and industry experts. Participants will take part in a unique learning experience characterized by cutting-edge theory, industry best practices and thought-provoking discussions about key business issues affecting the global produce industry. This robust program agenda will cover a range of topics from executive development and financial planning to global food industry issues and work-life balance.

"While this program is designed to address the unique challenges of our industry, it doesn’t stop there. It pushes you to think beyond the industry to the larger issues impacting the business world,” said Brian Coates, senior produce buyer for Meijer and 2011 program participant. “You walk away thinking differently about your own business, your role as a leader in the industry, and how you can effectively lead those in your company.”

This year’s program will be held March 11-16 at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Enrollment is limited to 40 participants to ensure a dynamic, yet intimate learning environment. Early-bird registration closes January 20, so sign up soon to save over $500 on tuition. Register here or contact United’s Education Manager Shannon Young at (202) 303-3400.

USDA to Host Informative PACA Webinar

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will host a webinar on the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) complaint process. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, February 22, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET.

John Koller of AMS will introduce PACA and review inspection certificates, the proper acceptance and rejection of produce, and multiple avenues to resolve a business conflict. Discussion will also focus on filing an informal PACA complaint, mediation, working through a formal complaint, and the PACA Trust.

This interactive webinar is designed for fresh produce buyers and sellers. The event is free, but you must register online to participate.

For more information about PACA contact Karla Whalen at (202) 720-4180.

Chairman’s Roundtable Thanks 2012 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 2012 Chairman’s Roundtable:

  • Fresh Solutions Network, Loveland, OH
  • G.O. Fresh, Minneapolis, MN
  • Jack Keller Company, Chicago, IL

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.

  • Green Thumb Farms, Fryeburg, ME
  • Holcroft Postharvest Consulting, Davis, CA
  • Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, GA
  • Movement Technologies, Gaithersburg, MD
  • Red Isle Potato Growers, Ltd., Charlottetown, Canada

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.

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