March 15, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Industry Leaders Discuss Farm Bill Challenges with Ag Committee Staff

(L-R) Julie Manes, United Fresh; Joel Nelsen, California Citrus Mutual; Autumn Veazy, Senate Agriculture Committee; Charles Hall, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association

Specialty crops can’t retreat from achievements gained in the 2008 Farm Bill. That was the message delivered by staff from the Senate and House Agriculture Committees during Tuesday meetings with members of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA). During the Capitol Hill meetings, the SCFBA Steering Committee reviewed progress on several Farm Bill priorities, including block grants, risk management and nutrition.

“Defending the block grants is essential for this next Farm Bill,” said Jacqlyn Schneider of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Democratic staff. “We are looking at ways to enhance how the block grants are structured, including cooperative multi-state projects.”

Joel Leftwich, legislative director of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Republican staff, cautioned the group that budget limitations will force difficult decisions in the next Farm Bill.

“Many titles in the Farm Bill will see cuts, severe cuts, because of money constraints,” he said.

There’s support for specialty crop policies in the Farm Bill, according to Keith Jones of the House Agriculture Committee Democratic staff. “We just returned from a field hearing in New York, and everyone we talked to said the policies are working like they should. The problem is going to be the money,” he told the SCFBA Steering Committee.

Contrary to recent tradition, the Senate Ag Committee, instead of the House Ag Committee, is taking the lead in crafting the next Farm Bill. Chairman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Pat Roberts have committed to moving a Farm Bill out of committee this year.

The specialty crop industry organizations comprising the SCFBA are working to rally strong congressional support for passage of a new Farm Bill that builds on the many policy successes from the 2008 bill. United Fresh provides administrative support for SCFBA activities.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at 202-303-3400.

United Fresh Wraps Up 2012 Fresh Impact Tour in California, Texas

John Toner catching up with the DMA Solutions, Inc. team, a passionate produce marketing group!

Caption: Grower-Shipper Association of Central California Chairman, Sam McKinsey addresses Salinas Town Hall Lunch attendees.

United Fresh completed its Spring Fresh Impact Tour last week with town halls and member visits in California and Texas.  After a tour of Mann Packing, Tom Stenzel and Jeff Oberman met with Central California produce industry leaders at the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California.  Tom and Jeff then headed east to Sacramento for a town hall luncheon hosted by Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, as well as tours of a local Raley’s store and Renaissance Food Group’s headquarters.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Dr. David Gombas and John Toner V visited member operations in Houston including CHEP, Brothers Produce, and Cooseman’s Houston and held a town hall luncheon at the new Houston Food Bank Facility.  David and John finished the Texas tour in Dallas, the site of United Fresh 2012, with a town hall luncheon and visits to multiple member operations, including Freshpoint, Marengo Foods, and DMA Solutions.

“All of the United Fresh staff and members who participated in the past few weeks of Fresh Impact events agree that bringing the industry together for conversations on important issues is immensely valuable to the association and the larger industry,” said John Toner, vice president of convention & industry relations.   “We look forward to our next opportunity to continue the conversations and to gather the industry at the United Fresh 2012 convention in Dallas, where we will bring together the produce, supermarket and meat processing industries for the food industry’s largest convention and trade show.”

For a full recap of the Fresh Impact Tour, visit our Facebook page. For more information, please contact Miriam Miller-Wolk, senior director of membership, at 202-303-3410.

Big City Mayors Support Nutrition, Conservation in Farm Bill

In a March 6 letter to the House and Senate Agriculture Committee chairmen and ranking members, ten big-city mayors called nutrition and conservation programs in the Farm Bill “critical to the long-term well-being of our residents.”

The letter directed special attention to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) as “vital components of city nutrition programs where the rates of poverty and food insecurity are disproportionately high.” The mayors urged support for USDA policies that encourage healthy food choices and limit intake of high-sugar, high-fat foods, citing the current high costs to the local and federal government of treating obesity and diet-related diseases. The policies advocated for include programs that increase fruit and vegetable consumption, such as the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program in Schools and financial incentives for SNAP recipients to using their benefits at farmers markets.

Though the signatories represent the mostly urban centers of Portland, New York, Chicago, Louisville, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, they also voice support for conservation programs that are “fundamental to a healthy food system.” The letter urges strengthening of programs that encourage environmental stewardship by farmers, recognizing the impact those conservation efforts have on watersheds and food security.

Produce Executives Get an Ivy League Education

Class prepares for day 2 of the Produce Executive Development Program in a Cornell lecture hall.

Greetings from Ithaca, New York!

Dan Vaché, United vice president of supply chain management, sending along an update from the first two full days of the United Fresh Produce Executive Program at Cornell University.

The students, many of them not used to spending eight hours in a classroom setting, are captivated by the material. The peer exchange is dynamic and the professors at Cornell consistently engage the class in discussion on a variety of topics including the changing dynamics of the produce marketplace, smart decision making, strategic financial planning, leadership theory and practice, marketing strategies, building customer relations and other critical industry issues.

The Cornell professors are remarkable in how much valuable information and insight they’re able to provide. They’re also really encouraging the students to share their own experiences, to shape the discourse and develop a certain level of ownership over the ideas that will influence their careers and the broader industry. I’ve already heard students discussing among themselves which lessons they plan on implementing back in their own operations.

The program will continue through this week with learning sessions, networking opportunities and retail tours. Click here for more program information or contact Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3400.

Food Safety Is Hot Topic at Southwest Ag Summit

Dr. Barry Eisenberg, United Fresh vice president of food safety services, participated in the 6th annual Southwest Ag Summit held March 7- 8 in Yuma, Arizona. Agriculture industry leaders, university researchers, teachers and extension agents from Arizona, New Mexico, Southern California and Northern Mexico gathered to share cultural and management practices including irrigation management, immigration reform, fresh produce safety, crop protection, energy conservation, new cropping technology and urban encroachment.

On Thursday, March 8, Dr. Eisenberg joined the keynote speaker panel and provided perspectives of the fresh produce industry on various food safety issues, including concerns pertaining to open canal irrigation sources. In an afternoon breakout session, Dr. Eisenberg updated the audience on United Fresh involvement with the Harmonized Audit Initiation, the Food Safety and Modernization Act, Product Traceability Initiative and the progress being made with the Produce Safety Alliance.
“United Fresh has a strong food safety program presence in the Yuma area,” said Dr. Eisenberg. “It was exciting to be a part of this major educational program that highlighted the involvement of the University of Arizona faculty in the areas of fresh produce, cotton and alfalfa.”

Food Service Award Winner Jazzes up Breakfast in Schools

A beautiful breakfast tray from Wasatch Elementary, Utah, with a whole grain muffin, yogurt parfait topped with blueberries, fresh fruit bowl, juice and low-fat milk.

United’s 2011 Produce Excellence in Foodservice Award Winner for the K-12 category Jenilee McComb knows how to grab kids’ attention in the lunch line. McComb and the Child Nutrition Program in the Provo City School District have developed innovative and fun programs that encourage their students to try new items, expand their produce horizons and make school meals a “magical experience.” Serving more than 345,000 breakfasts and more than 1,300,000 lunches annually, McComb and her team take school menus to a whole new level by incorporating items such as chayote squash, canary melons, seckle pears and persimmons.

McComb and her team promoted the most important meal of the day during National School Breakfast Week March 5-9, letting kids know that healthy eating and educational success go hand-in-hand. “We had a ball, everyone on staff and the kids had so much fun,” said McComb. “The ‘oatmeal sundae’ bar is very popular. We put out strawberries, blueberries and bananas and they can build their own. We have a similar set up with yogurt parfaits, the kids love to pile the fruit on top.” Photos of all the fun, colorful servings can be seen on the Child Nutrition Program’s Facebook page.

The new school meal regulations require a doubling of the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables served at breakfast and lunch. McComb and the Provo City School District staff applaud the new requirements. “We’ve been serving the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that the new rules require for a few years now. There are a few things we need to adjust, but we’ve made an effort to be ready and prepared. The program has brought in every fruit and vegetable you can imagine, prepared in a variety of different ways to get the students to try them. They don’t always like it the first time we put it on the menu, but once they acquire the taste, they’ll be requesting certain things. For example, we used to serve plain iceberg lettuce and when our salad bars first offered mixed greens, the students were hesitant. Now, they will only eat the rich, leafy greens.”

McComb is an active member of the School Nutrition Association and the School Nutrition Association Utah, serving on the SNAU board several times and as Supervisors Chapter President for Utah for 2008 and 2009. The Child Nutrition Program won 'Best of State' for Utah, 2010, in the Educational Support Division, and Jenilee and her team members were recognized by the Utah State Office of Education for going above and beyond program requirements for the program’s promotion of “nutritional well-being of children.”

For more information on the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program, please contact Miriam Miller Wolk at 202-303-3410.

Reserve Your Seat Today for the May 21-25 Produce Inspection Training Program

Students examine produce in the hands-on Commodity Labs course

USDA instructor explains the complex produce inspection process.

United Fresh is pleased to deliver its extremely popular Produce Inspection Training Program, the produce industry’s only USDA instructed inspection training program, May 21-25 at the USDA Fresh Products Branch National Inspectors’ Training Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This 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 last course in January sold out, so be sure to register your team today! The member registration fee for the introductory course is $895 and $1925 for intro and advanced course. If three or more colleagues register for both courses at the same time they each receive a $100 discount!

To learn more, please visit the United Fresh website or click here for Produce Inspection flyer and downloadable registration form. If you have any questions about this or any other United Fresh education program, contact Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3405.

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! Our winners will experience dishes from an artistic Pan-Asian kitchen at Shinsei, seasonal specialties that are guaranteed to please the discerning palate at Suze and savory seafood that’s a gateway for the senses at Truluck’s.

  • Shinsei – Brandon Moore, Winn-Dixie Stores
  • Suze – Wendall Hahn, Four Seasons Produce, Inc.
  • Truluck’s – Scott Player, Brookshire Grocery Co.

Register now to be eligible to win a gift certificate to next week’s featured restaurants: Craft, Hibiscus or Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille.

Craft serves renowned chef Tom Colicchio’s take on honest, straightforward cooking, and the menu lists all the local farms from which ingredients are sourced. The experience begins with a small first plate such as foie gras and pineapple or braised Spanish octopus and chorizo. Popular main courses include pork shank with pistachio and prunes or lemon sole with mustard seed.

Hibiscus features contemporary American fare with a focus on premium ingredients, market freshness and rustic sensibility in a way that satisfies hearty eaters and cerebral diners alike. Executive Chef Brent Hammer has designed a spectacular menu with garlic glazed bistro steak served with duck fat fries and fontina fondue or burnished Maine lobster served with Dutch mussels, little neck clams, porcinis and Spanish chorizo.

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grille has earned a faithful following by perfecting steak since 1979. Of course, world-class USDA prime steaks are only the beginning at Perry’s. Succulent lobster and fresh seafood dishes, tableside chateaubriand, Perry’s famous pork chop, delectable flaming desserts and an enviable selection of world-class wines are sure to delight.

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 and Easy Neighborhood Market, Inc., El Segundo, CA

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.

  • Industrial Fleet Management, Forest Hill, MD
  • Oxfam America, Boston, MA

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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