May 31, 2012
In Today's Issue:
House Agriculture Committee Urged to Consider Specialty Crops in Farm Bill

Last week, 83 members of Congress representing key specialty crop interests sent a message to House agriculture leadership about the need to defend specialty crop programs and to swiftly pass the Farm Bill. The letter, addressed to Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson requests “full and fair consideration to the research, pest management and trade assistance programs” that are vital to the specialty crop industry. United Fresh was involved in many conversations with representatives and staff leading to the letter, providing information and perspective on which issues and programs are of the most concern to the industry.

“This letter shows the leadership of the House of Representatives that there is strong support for the specialty crop industry and that there is a strong desire to pass the Farm Bill before it reaches its September 30 expiration date,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh and secretary of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. “The signatories recognize the value of specialty crops in their districts and for the entire country, and we appreciate their willingness to work towards a stronger specialty crop industry.”

The letter draws attention to the critical contribution that specialty crops make to the $44 billion agriculture trade surplus and the resources that the industry needs to continue to provide safe, healthy product to an increasingly health-conscious consumer base. These resources include pest management programs such as the Plant Pest and Disease Management, the Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network. The letter highlights much-needed research programs such as the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Agriculture Research Service, as well as key industry development programs such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Acknowledging the need to maintain trade opportunities for specialty crop providers, the letter also voices the members’ support for trade assistance programs such as the Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops.

“We applaud these members of Congress for making sure that the leadership of the House knows how important the specialty crop industry is to their districts and around the country and for continuing to be fresh produce industry champions. United Fresh and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance looks forward to working with them as the House moves toward passage of the 2012 Farm Bill,” said Guenther.

The letter is available here. For more information, please visit the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance or contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.

Meet the 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference Co-Chairs!

The 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference co-chairs represent each segment of the industry and have been working with United Fresh to prepare the tools attendees will need to educate members of Congress and help ensure a more profitable future for our industry.

  • Tom Deardorff, Deardorff Family Farms, vice chairman of the Grower-Shipper Board
  • Tony Freytag, Crunch Pak Sliced Apples, vice chairman of the Fresh-Cut Processor Board
  • Sean Picquelle, Taco Bell, vice chairman of the Retail-Foodservice Board
  • Lisa Strube, Strube Celery & Vegetable Company, vice chairman of the Wholesaler-Distributor Board

This year’s conference will bring the produce industry to Washington, D.C. in a powerful way, with special breakout sessions focused on the key legislative issues facing each market segment. The workshops will be followed by two days of meetings with House and Senate members and staff, amplifying the industry’s voice on issues such as food safety, farm labor, nutrition and consumption and the 2012 Farm Bill.

Take advantage of the early registration discounts through June 15, 2012! Register Today!

More Exciting Features at This Year’s Conference:

  • NEW! 2 Days of Congressional Meetings
  • NEW! 2 Conference Hotels
  • Keynote Address from Top Political Advisor and Former Senator, Fred Thompso
  • 35 & Under Fresh Impact Panel
  • Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill
  • United FreshPAC Event
  • And More!
United Fresh 2012 Summer Public Policy Webinar Series Announced

United Fresh is proud to offer its popular annual public policy webinar series featuring the most informed and insightful perspectives on the top policy and regulatory initiatives affecting the industry. The series runs June 14 through September 12 and provides a rare opportunity to hear directly from key policymakers and regulators as they give insights and answer questions in real time. Sign up today to take advantage of these webinars and to shape the policies that impact the produce industry.

Congress and the administration are considering implementing policies that may force changes in day-to-day business. During our webinar series, experts will address the most significant produce policy issues today:

  • 2012 Farm Bill
  • Food Safety Regulations
  • Federal Nutrition Programs
  • Taking the Produce Industry Message to Washington

This is a four-part series featuring monthly, one-hour webinars beginning Thursday, June 14, 2012. All sessions will be recorded and accessible to all registered participants.

Webinar Program Schedule

Thursday, June 14, 2012 11:00 am PDT/2:00 pm EDT
The 2012 Farm Bill: Will Congress continue to support specialty crops?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 11:00 am PDT/2:00 pm EDT
Food Safety Regulations: Congressional Impact on Proposed Rules

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 11:00 am PDT/2:00 pm EDT
Nutrition: How federal policies are increasing kids produce consumption and making schools great customers

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 11:00 am PDT/2:00 pm EDT
The Produce Message to Congress: What do policymakers need to hear from you?

For more information on the Summer Webinar Series click here or contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

USDA Pesticide Residue Data Shows Fruits and Vegetables are Safe

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the 2010 Pesticide Data Program Summary on May 25, reporting that overall, pesticide residue on fresh produce and other foods do not pose a risk to consumers. The annual report is used to estimate consumer dietary exposure to pesticides and the relationship of those exposures to science-based standards of safety. This report shows that overall pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances (maximum legal residue levels) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Of the 12,845 samples collected in 2010 and analyzed over the past two years, 10,974 were fresh and processed fruit and vegetable commodities. Other foods tested included meat and poultry, grains, catfish, rice, specialty products and water. Excluding catfish and water, only 0.25% of food samples showed residue levels exceeding EPA tolerances, and 4.6% of the samples were found to have residues with no established tolerance. Catfish and water are not included in these calculations because residue levels, if found, are credited to environmental contamination rather than the application of pesticides.

“This broad sampling provides data verifying that pesticide residue is not a food safety concern,” said Ray Gilmer, United’s vice president of communications. “We’re grateful that the USDA report emphasizes that fruits and vegetables are safe and that growers across the country are doing their part to produce healthful, safe food for consumers.”

An accompanying USDA statement offered this advice: “Eat more fruits and vegetables and wash them before you do so. Health and nutrition experts encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables in every meal as part of a healthy diet. This message is affirmed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released last year, in USDA’s My Plate, as well as federal nutrition guidance that urges people to make half their plate fruits and vegetables.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented the PDP in 1991 to test food commodities for pesticide residues. The 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect pesticide residue data on foods that are highly consumed, particularly by infants and children. The FQPA also established a strict health-based standard for a “reasonable certainty of no harm” for pesticide residues in food to ensure consumer protection from unacceptable pesticide exposure. The EPA uses the PDP data as a critical component for dietary assessments of pesticide exposure, a critical step to verify that all sources of exposure to pesticides meet the safety standards set by the 1996 FQPA.

The 2010 Pesticide Data Program Summary is available online.

Even Above the Arctic Circle Salad Bars Are Improving Kids’ Lives

Students in Kiana School enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables every day in their salad bar, even though their small Inupiat village is 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Principal Scott Warren says the salad bar has been an overwhelming success; students now enjoy pears, apples, oranges, lettuce and other fresh fruits and vegetables daily. The salad bar was donated by Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools in January 2012 and recently the school produced a video to showcase their Kiana School salad bar in action!

To provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the 126 Pre K-12 students the school district’s food service management company flies produce from Anchorage to the coastal town of Kotzebue and then to Kiana by small aircraft. Even in the far north, kids know that fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and taste good! In Alaska, the State Obesity Prevention and Control Program coordinates “Fruit and Vegetable Bars in Alaska Schools” to training school food service directors to successfully implement salad bars in their schools. “We want to show that Alaska schools are implementing salad bars with great success,” says Diane Peck, Alaska DHSS Obesity Prevention and Control Program.

“Kiana’s success demonstrates that schools anywhere, even those above the Arctic Circle, can implement salad bars and that children everywhere deserve to enjoy more fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health. “Increasing students’ fruit and vegetable consumption is so important to healthy eating habits and salad bars are one of the most effective ways to increase consumption and meet the new school lunch regulations that double the amount of daily fruits and vegetables that must be served. I applaud Kiana School, Alaska’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program’s “Fruit and Vegetable Bars in Alaska Schools” and the leadership of the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in showing that salad bars can work anywhere.”

Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. United Fresh is a founding partner of the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which has donated salad bars to 1,600 schools nation-wide to date.

For more information, please visit saladbars2schools.org or contact Andrew Marshall, United’s policy and grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407.

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:

  • Pacific Tomato Growers/Pacific Triple E, Palmetto, FL

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.

  • Suntreat Packing & Shipping Co., Lindsay, 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

Join us for events designed to grow your business.

GAPs Harmonization Auditor Training
June 6-7, Costco Headquarters, Issaquah, WA

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

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