May 10, 2012
In Today's Issue:
United Fresh and Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Urge Senate to Vote on 2012 Farm Bill

On May 7, the United Fresh Produce Association and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance joined nearly 130 other agriculture organizations to urge the leadership of the United States Senate to bring the Farm Bill passed by the Senate Agriculture Committee to the full Senate for passage as quickly as possible.

On April 26, members of the Senate Agriculture Committee voted 16-5 to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act 2012, known as the 2012 Farm Bill. This legislation recognized and invested in key specialty crop priorities such as pest and disease mitigation, Specialty Crop Block Grants, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, trade and nutrition. United Fresh hailed the Senate committee action as a critical step forward in maintaining the commitment to promoting opportunities for fresh produce growers made in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“It is essential that the full Senate act on the strong bipartisan support in the Agriculture Committee for the 2012 Farm Bill and pass this measure, which is positive for the fresh produce industry, and keep it moving toward passage by the full Congress and on to the president for his signature,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy.

The agriculture industry letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that current Farm Bill authority expires in the coming months and would result in a tremendous amount of uncertainty for producers across the country. In their message to the Senate’s leadership, the letter’s signatories noted that the members they serve “need to know details of the programs that will be in effect in 2013 as soon as possible.”

The full text of the agriculture industry letter can be found here. For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400 or visit the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance at strongeragriculture.org.

Alliance Members Testify on Farm Bill Priorities at House Agriculture Subcommittee Hearing

As part of a series of hearings by the House Agriculture Committee, the House Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture held a hearing titled, “The Formulation of the 2012 Farm Bill: Specialty Crop and Nutrition Programs.” The first panel had strong representation by Steering Committee Members of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, including American Nursery and Landscape Association witness Jerry Lee, Environmental Services Manager, Monrovia Growers; Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association witness Dan Richey, President and CEO, Riverfront Packing Company; and Western Growers witness Mike Jarrard, President and COO, Mann Packing Company.

“These witnesses did a great job of laying out for the House Subcommittee key priorities of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy and secretary of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, has stated he expects his Committee to begin consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill in June. The Senate Agriculture Committee completed their consideration of the bill in late April and is currently working to get Senate floor time for the bill, which invests almost $4 billion into specialty crop priorities, an investment championed by the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.

“It is critical that we maintain the positive movement forward for Congress to reauthorize the Farm Bill which is set to expire in September of this year,” said Guenther. “This hearing was an important step in that process as it gave alliance leaders a voice at the table as key stakeholders as the House Agriculture Committee begins their deliberations over the summer,” he concluded.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400 or visit the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance website at strongeragriculture.org.

HBO Donates Salad Bars to 100 Schools to Reduce Childhood Obesity

Cauriel Bocage, left, a sixth-grader at Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, created a big salad topped with orange wedges for lunch. The school is one of 11 in the city that offers a salad bar, and HBO donated 10 more. (Amy Davis, Baltimore Sun / April30, 2012)

Last week, Home Box Office (HBO) announced the donation of salad bars to 100 schools as part of its commitment to reducing the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic. The schools are located in Baltimore, MD, Portland, OR, Columbia, SC, Lakewood, CO, San Jose, CA, New Haven, CT, Selma, AL, Houston, TX, Seattle, WA, Philadelphia, PA, Brooklyn, NY, New Orleans, LA, and Washington, DC. The schools also received water tap stations. The salad bars and water tap stations will ensure that students have ready access to healthy fruits and vegetables and water during the school day.

On May 1 in Dallas, coinciding with United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Texas Schools news conference announcing the donation of salad bars to 100 Texas schools, HBO hosted media events in many of the aforementioned school districts to showcase student excitement with their new salad bars. In total, 200 schools received new salad bars from United Fresh and HBO on May 1st benefiting approximately 1.5 million children around the country.

On May 14 and 15, HBO will premiere a four-part documentary called Weight of the Nation to “sound the loudest alarm that we can” to show that the obesity epidemic could cripple the United States’ health care system, according to John Hoffman, the executive producer of the documentary. HBO collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the documentary and Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools partners to select schools for salad bars.

See more coverage of HBO’s salad bar donation from across the country:
Baltimore, Maryland
Columbia, South Carolina
Lakewood, Colorado
New Haven, Conneticut
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Portland, Oregon
Seattle, Washington

For information on how you can support Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools please contact Andrew Marshall, policy & grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407 or visit saladbars2schools.org.

“Weight of the Nation” Conference Brings Attention to Obesity Epidemic

In Washington, D.C. this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosted “The Weight of the Nation 2012” conference to highlight progress in the prevention and control of obesity through policy and environmental strategies. Many public and private organizations participated, and brought additional focus to the obesity crisis by highlighting these points:

  • By 2030, 42% of American adults will be obese and will incur large medical expenses if the epidemic is not turned around.
  • Agriculture policies should be examined for impact on obesity.
  • Schools should be “national focal point’ for obesity prevention.
  • Let’s Move! is making a difference.

Actions at the federal level, including a call to review how agriculture policies can impact obesity, were noted in a new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report was presented by former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who chaired the IOM Committee. An emphasis on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption and ensuring an affordable supply of fresh fruits and vegetables are highlighted in the IOM report.

The conference previewed HBO’s “Weight of the Nation” multi-part documentary series, kicking off an ambitious public campaign to raise awareness of the obesity epidemic. “I encourage all of our members to watch the series to see how fruits and vegetables are portrayed,” said Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition. The series begins with “Consequences” followed by “Choices” on May 14 and continues on May 15 with “Children in Crisis” followed by “Challenges.”

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools received praise at the conference. Sam Kass, the White House’s senior advisor on health initiatives, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, highlighted how salad bars are an effective tool to increase children’s access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

“As Congress debates the 2012 Farm Bill it will be interesting to see if any of the action steps in the IOM Report or challenges highlighted in the HBO series resonate on Capitol Hill. United’s top nutrition priority for the 2012 Farm Bill is to maintain the funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) which provides more than 3 million low-income elementary school students with a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school. Imagine if the FFVP could be expand to benefit more children, it would be a big WIN for kids health and produce!” said Dr. DiSogra.

For more information, please contact Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

2012 Technical Award Presented to Dr. Trevor Suslow

Dr. David Gombas (R) presents 2012 Technical Award to Dr. Trevor Suslow.

Dr. Trevor Suslow, Extension Research Specialist at University of California, Davis, was awarded the 2012 Technical Award on May 1 at United Fresh 2012. Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety & technology, presented the award to Suslow, whose research has helped guide the industry’s food safety standards.

“He is considered a “go to” guy in the industry, working closely with many companies and commodity groups to provide sound guidance founded on extensive research,” said Gombas. Suslow’s ability to translate his field research into practical, effective solutions was also recognized.

Since 1995, the award, presented annually at the United Fresh convention, recognizes individuals who make significant technical contributions to the overall fresh produce industry in the area of food safety and food quality to better serve consumers. Congratulations Dr. Suslow!

Produce Traceability Initiative Survey Finds Widespread Progress Toward All Milestones

 

A recent survey to gauge produce industry members’ adoption of the seven Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) milestones indicates companies are making widespread progress. The findings were announced May 2 after the PTI’s Leadership Council meeting, held in conjunction with United Fresh 2012.

A diverse group of 228 companies representing all produce industry sectors and a broad array of sizes responded to invitations to complete the survey, led by four categories: growers, packers/repackers, shippers, and distributors. Demand-side respondents, comprising distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, and wholesalers or terminal markets, constituted 23 percent of the respondents.

The survey was open to all produce companies, regardless of whether they have been active in PTI activities.

About 84 percent of responding suppliers reported they are communicating GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) to receivers, while 77 percent of all brand owners said that they have assigned GTINs to some or all of their produce cases. 

Meanwhile, 88 percent of receivers report they are receiving cases with incoming GTINs, and 75 percent of receivers report they are reading or planning on reading data on some or all inbound cases. Receivers lag suppliers on implementations, but are making headway, with 43 percent of receivers reporting they are totally or partially equipped for reading inbound PTI-recommended data, and 40 percent of receivers storing all or some data on inbound cases.

“We’re thrilled to see such positive results from the PTI Implementation Survey. We did see that many receivers and retailers are lagging behind suppliers in implementation, but they are making progress. We have to consider the complexity  of  the retail distribution side that implementing the PTI program has, not only financially but in terms of time spent training employees and calibrating the intricate retail chain to handle PTI,” said Dan Vaché, United’s vice president of supply chain management.

Respondents also indicated that they want the PTI administering organizations – the Produce Marketing Association, Canadian Produce Marketing Association, GS1 US and United Fresh – to continue providing education and communications on PTI issues after the end of the year, as companies continue to hit milestones and focus on implementations.

For more information, please contact Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, at 425-629-6271 or visit the PTI Website.

Meals on Wheels Hosts Mother’s Day Capitol Hill Event

The Meals On Wheels Association of America hosted its annual “Meals for Moms” Capitol Hill event Tuesday, featuring 30 members of Congress who signed Mother’s Day cards to be delivered to moms along with nutritious meals by Meals On Wheels programs in their local communities. United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel joined in the event to emphasize the importance of the more than 5,000 local programs that deliver over 1 million meals each day to seniors in need.

“United has made its mark building programs to boost consumption of fresh produce by children,” he said. “But Meals on Wheels reminds us that low-income seniors also need support to get healthy meals with plenty of fruits and vegetables. I encourage produce industry members to join the more than 2 million volunteers who participate in local Meals on Wheels programs across the country.”

The “Meals for Moms” event in the Cannon House Caucus Room honored Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), and featured appearances by iconic 1980s television stars Linda Evans of Dynasty and Linda Gray of Dallas who serve as MOW national spokespersons.

Last Chance to Register for Hands-On HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry Workshop at UGA

Registration for the University of Georgia Fresh-Cut HACCP Short Course workshop closes May 15! The course, in partnership with United Fresh, is designed to establish an in-plant HACCP program for the fresh-cut produce industry. 

The three-day course will provide a unique program of lectures and work group discussions from a broad-based faculty of food microbiologists, HACCP experts, authorities from academia, industry and government. The work group sessions provide interaction with HACCP authorities who have developed and implemented successful HACCP programs in fresh-cut processing plants.

In the hands-on laboratory participation the participants will learn which microbial testing tools to use to document and verify your sanitation program, how to interpret microbial results and which standardized procedures are best for consistent microbial analysis in testing fresh-cut produce.

The goal of this program is to provide you with the skills and knowledge to design, implement, document and maintain HACCP in your fresh-cut business.

BONUS! This course is accredited by the International HACCP Alliance. Successful completion of the course and exam provides HACCP certification!

United Fresh members receive discounted registration, but hurry, registration closes May 15!

Click here for more information or contact UGA at 706-542-2574 or efs@uga.edu.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Citrus America, Boca Raton, FL
  • Embassy of Chile, Washington, DC
  • RECALL InfoLink, Boise, ID

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

Join us for events designed to grow your business.

Produce Inspection Training Program
May 21-23, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

UGA Hands-On HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry
May 22-24, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Produce Inspection Training Program
September 10-14, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

Washington Public Policy Conference
October 1-3, Washington, DC