February 16, 2012
In Today's Issue:
United Fresh President Tom Stenzel Outlines Produce Industry Priorities for Farm Bill

Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO, outlined fresh produce industry Farm Bill priorities in a roundtable discussion held by the House of Representatives Small Business Committee on February 16. The discussion, titled “The Interests of America’s Small Businesses in the Next Farm Bill,” brought together a broad representation of American agriculture to discuss how the Farm Bill can support small businesses in operation and job creation.

Stenzel reviewed Farm Bill priorities developed by United Fresh in collaboration with the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. He provided information to the Committee members regarding the number of specialty crop businesses in their respective states as well as examples of how Farm Bill programs have enhanced the ability of the specialty crop industry to be competitive.

“Close to 50 percent of our members meet the criteria for small businesses, and the Farm Bill is critical to their ability to create and maintain jobs, which contribute to their local economies,” said Stenzel. “It’s encouraging to see Congress thinking about our industry’s views from the perspective of us being small business owners and operators and we’ll continue to remind Congress that the produce industry is a job creator.”

President’s Budget Affects Produce Industry

On Monday, President Obama released his proposed federal budget for fiscal year 2013. The $3.8 trillion dollar budget covers all aspects of the federal government’s operation and will be considered by Congress over the next several months. It’s expected that Congress will write its own version of the budget, but key elements of the president’s proposal could be incorporated into Congress’ version. There are several key items of interest to the produce industry in the FY2013 Budget:

Food Safety

  • The FDA is proposing a registration fee for food facilities that would raise an estimated $220 million dollars. This funding would be applied towards the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. United Fresh and 30 other food industry colleagues voiced opposition to these fees two weeks ago in a letter to the administration.
  • No funding is made available for USDA’s Microbiological Data Program.

Fruit and Vegetable Programs

  • Key specialty crop programs that were included in the 2008 Farm Bill such as the Market Access Program, Pest and Disease Program and State Block Grants are fully funded.
  • No funding was allocated for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative beyond the initiative’s September 2012 expiration (per 2008 Farm Bill).
  • An increase of $1 million has been requested to strengthen the development of local/regional food systems and to facilitate increased community access to locally and regionally grown fresh food. (Total requested $3.84 million.)
  • Line-item funding has been cut completely for regional pest management centers.
  • Includes $3.5 million grant matching funds for federal-state sustainable agriculture programs.

Nutrition Programs

  • Increases funding to the WIC fruit and vegetable program for children to $10 per month.
  • Includes $172 million in funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in FY 2013.
  • Provides $35 million for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to underserved communities or food deserts.
  • Provides $35 million for school cafeteria equipment to support schools in serving healthier school meals.

“The president’s budget offers mixed results around federal programs that help the fresh fruit and vegetable industry,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “We are pleased that there is concerted investment in federal nutrition programs that help increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Also, we are pleased that key programs helping growers such as the state block grants and the pest and disease program are fully funded for 2013. On the other hand, the proposal includes cuts in specialty crop research funding and places food safety taxes on food facilities, which is simply unacceptable. The fiscal problems we have in the federal government and the need to rein in wasteful spending are widely recognized. However, when programs such as research funding, which serves as the backbone of any industry or business sector, are cut and taxes are placed on the very companies that are already investing millions of dollars into food safety practices, it does not represent a balanced approach to fiscal constraint. We must also remember that this is only the president’s proposal and Congress must approve (or reject) his budget submission for FY2013. Therefore, we will work with members of Congress to highlight both the positives and negatives of this proposal as they begin their review.”

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.

DiSogra Presents Nutrition Priorities at Farm Bill Forum

On Tuesday, Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & health, presented a policy update on the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) at the “Food Policy Forum: Opportunities to Combat Hunger and Improve Nutrition in the 2012 Farm Bill” hosted by Feeding America, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that consists of a nationwide network of food banks and various stakeholders engaged in the fight to end hunger in the United States. DiSogra noted that the FFVP is United’s top nutrition policy priority for the 2012 Farm Bill and encouraged other organizations to support United’s goal to maintain the funding and integrity of the program to ensure that more than 4 million low-income elementary school students have a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school. DiSogra highlighted the recent independent evaluation, noting that the FFVP increased students’ fruit and vegetable intake and was a catalyst for increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables in school meals. FFVP schools provide a wide variety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables as snacks to all students every day at school.

Also this week, United Fresh participated in a Public Health Farm Bill Coalition meeting to discuss strategies and tactics for ensuring that nutrition priorities, such as funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and fruit and vegetable incentives for SNAP recipients, are included in the 2012 Farm Bill. United is co-chairing the Public Health Farm Bill Coalition with the Public Health Institute; the coalition brings together many of the same public health and nutrition organizations that worked successfully together on the 2008 Farm Bill. For more information about United Fresh nutrition priorities for the 2012 Farm Bill contact Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Specialty Crop Alliance Asks for Action on Farm Bill

A letter sent February 10 to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees urged the passage of a comprehensive Farm Bill this year. The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, for which United Fresh serves as the coordinating organization, signed the letter along with more than 80 other organizations with interests in the Farm Bill. The letter stated that a new comprehensive bill would increase the effectiveness of the safety net for farmers, protect natural resources, help prevent hunger, create jobs and spur investments in agricultural research.

“There’s been quite a bit of talk on Capitol Hill and in the agriculture community in recent months about the possibility of doing some kind of extension of the current Farm Bill this year and then doing a comprehensive rewrite next year,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. “The outlook for available revenue to fund Farm Bill programs is not going to get better with time and folks throughout our industry who are impacted by the Farm Bill do not need the uncertainty that would be created by kicking the can down the road. We feel it’s in the fresh produce industry’s best interest for Congress to act sooner rather than later.”

The full letter can be read here. For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.

Fresh Impact Tour Heads to Southeast, Pacific Northwest

The 2012 Fresh Impact Tour is a month-long member outreach tour that includes more than ten Town Halls; dozens of visits to member farms, packing facilities, wholesalers and retailers; and a Leadership Program trip to explore the Chilean produce industry. After a successful launch with the Fresh Impact Forum at FreshConex in Berlin, our United Fresh team is ready to hit the open road in the U.S., starting with the Southeast and Pacific Northwest! United members are invited to join in events the week of February 20, listed below. The full Fresh Impact Tour schedule is available here.

Feb 21, 2012
WSU Skagit County Extension Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon
WSU Skagit County Extension
Burlington, WA

Feb 22, 2012
South Carolina Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon
South Carolina Department of Ag - Phillips Market Center
West Columbia, SC

Feb 22, 2012
Wenatchee Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon
Washington State Apple Commission - Conference Room
Wenatchee, WA

Feb 23, 2012
Western North Carolina Produce Industry Town Hall Breakfast
Delhaize America
Salisbury, NC

Feb 23, 2012
Yakima Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon
Yakima Chamber of Commerce
Yakima, WA

Feb 24, 2012
Atlanta Produce Industry Town Hall Breakfast
Atlanta State Farmers Market - Administration Building
Forest Park, GA

Feb 24, 2012
Seattle Area Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon
Costco Wholesale
Issaquah, WA

Throughout the trip, visits will include numerous fruit and vegetable growers, distributors and retailers in each of these areas. 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. Follow along!

For more information on the Spring Fresh Impact Tour, please contact Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.

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!

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.

Congratulations to this week’s winners! Two winners will be enjoying the finest prime steaks in a lively atmosphere at Bob’s Steak & Chop House, while one winner will be experiencing the intimate ambiance of a five diamond restaurant at Rosewood Mansion.

  • Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek – Catherine Hampton, Aldi
  • Bob’s Steak & Chop House – Leah Brakke, Black Gold Farms
  • Bob’s Steak & Chop House – Steve Serck, Jack Keller Company

Register now to be eligible to win a gift certificate to next week’s featured restaurants: Bolsa, Maximo and Rise #1.

Bolsa serves local ingredients with a side of honest, fresh flavors; the kitchen is without a freezer or fryer. The menu, designed by Chef Graham Dodds, lists naturally-raised organic ingredients from regional growers, ranchers and fishermen. This cozy, local favorite was chosen as D Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year in 2009. The generous bruschetta tasting is a highlight, but also be sure to try the Texas Bobwhite quail.

Maximo is the newest concept restaurant by Mark Maguire and Chef Amador Mora. Maximo combines the best of Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican favorites with authentic dishes that explore culinary traditions from the regions of Puebla, Yucatan, Veracruz and Oaxaca in an inviting and energetic atmosphere. The roasted poblano pepper stuffed with chicken or shrimp and spinach, zetas, Spanish rice, chopped peanuts, and jack cheese, served in a chili broth with broiled onions and topped with avocado cream is a show-stopper.

Rise #1
brings the masterpiece of French cuisine, the soufflé, to Dallas. The menu features savory soufflés of ham and Gruyere, goat cheese and spinach or sweeter versions of chocolate, raspberry and Grand Marnier. The relaxed bistro is co-owned by creative founder and visionary Heddia Gioia Dowd and Executive Chef Cherif Brahmi. The marshmallow soup is an unforgettable starter.

New Member Welcome

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

  • FOOD Freshly AFC GmbH, Bielefeld, Germany
  • North American Greenhouse Hothouse Vegetable Growers, Bellevue, WA
  • Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc., British Columbia, Canada
  • Pattruss Inc., Mito, Ibaraki Japan
  • Pratt Industries, Conyers, GA
  • Wells Fargo Bank, San Francisco, CA

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.

Upcoming United Fresh Events

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