June 7, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Farm Bill Advances to Senate Floor for Debate

By a Thursday morning vote of 90-8, the Senate agreed to proceed to consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill. The cloture petition required 60 votes for passage. This paves the way for amendments to be filed in the next few days. 

The bill in its current form supports many specialty crop priorities that United Fresh and the Specialty Crop Alliance have encouraged, such as continued funding for market assistance and research for pest and disease programs.

Among the amendments expected to be offered is a proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. to restore the $4.5 billion in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that was cut by the Senate Agriculture Committee and to add $500 million to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program that feeds nearly 3 million children. Other expected amendments will address crop insurance, market development and conservation programs.

The Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) released a set of regional recommendations this week, many of which complement the Farm Bill priorities laid out by the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA), of which United Fresh is the coordinating member. For example, MGA endorses the expansion and full funding of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which gives specialty crop producers vital tools to enhance their competitiveness. Like SCFBA, MGA support full funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) a key trade opportunity program. MGA also is supportive of programs such as the Clean Plant Network and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which are also key specialty crop industry priorities. The MGA recommendations are available here.

“The MGA’s recommendations are on the same track as the Alliance,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy and secretary of the Alliance. “Their recognition of the value of the Specialty Crop Block Program and various other research programs demonstrates that the fresh produce industry is nationally vital and that we have some great allies going in with us to preserve the advances we made in the 2008 Farm Bill.”

The Farm Bill is expected to be debated by the Senate over the course of the next two weeks. The House of Representatives is scheduled to take action in the House Agriculture Committee by the end of June. United Fresh is working with its industry partners to secure passage of the specialty crop provisions included in the Senate Agriculture Committee-passed bill.

Two- Day March on Capitol Hill Puts You Face-to-Face with Policymakers

This year’s Washington Public Policy Conference will be the largest ever, offering attendees more face-to-face congressional meetings and insider events with leading policymakers. With congressional meetings always a highlight of the event, we’ve doubled our time on Capitol Hill, allowing members to focus on House visits one afternoon, followed by Senate visits the next morning. This allows for more time for serious conversation with each congressional office, and this is more important than ever since we’ll be in DC just one month before the November elections.

“In this election year, you’ll never find politicians more willing to listen to your views right now as they seek your financial support and vote in November,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel wrote in a Packer opinion piece. “It is you in the farms and packing sheds, the distribution centers and processing plants, the restaurants and supermarkets, who drive home what these policies mean to you in your own community.”

“This is an amazing opportunity for our industry to utilize the strong connections United Fresh has built in Washington, D.C.” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “We’re looking forward to the real impact we’ll have this year, especially with the Farm Bill making its way through the Senate and House.”

Registration is open for United's Washington Public Policy Conference, October 1-3. The annual conference is the ONLY event where the entire fresh produce industry unites to make a real difference on produce industry priorities and help ensure a more profitable future. With produce industry leaders and our nation’s policymakers all in one place, the event amplifies the industry’s voice on issues such as food safety, farm labor, nutrition and consumption and the 2012 Farm Bill.

Register for the Washington Public Policy Conference before June 20th and receive $100 off!

For more information, visit the Washington Public Policy website, or contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

United Fresh 2012 Summer Public Policy Webinar Series Begins Next Week!

The Summer Public Policy Webinar Series begins next Thursday, June 14 at 2 pm EST! Hear from top policy experts sharing important trends, observations and insights on the 2012 Farm Bill.

Speakers will include:

Pam Miller, Senior Professional Staff to the Chairman, House Agriculture Committee, U.S. House of Representatives
There will likely be notable differences between the versions of the Farm Bill that emerge from the House of Representatives and the Senate. For the produce industry to determine what proposals best meet our needs, it is critical to know what those differences are. Pam will offer an update on the action of the House, including their schedule and what will likely be in their version of the bill.

Randy Russell, Policy Consultant, Founding Partner, The Russell Group
Understanding the various legislative, budgetary and political factors affecting the Farm Bill’s path to passage are essential to effectively representing our industry in the Farm Bill process. Listen in as Randy addresses the overarching factors affecting the bill, such as funding and the different political obstacles between the House and Senate.

Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President of Public Policy, United Fresh Produce Association
Robert will discuss how specialty crops play a critical role in the 2012 Farm Bill and will address the industry’s advocacy efforts to ensure a robust federal investment in specialty crop programs.

The series continues 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 shape the policies that impact the produce industry. The webinar series will also present experts to address:

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

This is a four-part series featuring monthly, one-hour webinars, which will be recorded and accessible to all registered participants. For more information on the Summer Webinar Series click here or contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

Spanish Versions of Guidance and Best Practice Documents Published by North American Produce Transportation Working Group

The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) announced the posting of a Spanish version of the comprehensive best practices document on their website. The site offers best practice and guidance documents pertaining to the handling and transport of fresh produce to facilitate a seamless, safe and sustainable global supply-chain. The transportation resources are intended for shippers, receivers and carriers.

“With so many warehouse workers, truckers and others in the industry speaking Spanish, it is vital to have this document translated. It is a very technical document, so it’s crucial that all parties understand this in its entirety,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas in Nogales, Arizona and NAPTWG founding member.

“Presenting these documents in Spanish is a milestone for the NAPTWG and our efforts to harmonize the fresh produce supply chain. Translating the site to make it available to a wider audience is a sign of the group’s commitment to strengthening our cross-border relationships for the advancement of the industry,” said Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management for United Fresh.

The NAPTWG is comprised of more than 25 national and regional produce industry associations, transportation service providers, grower/shippers and perishable receivers. In cooperation with United Fresh Produce Association, NAPTWG works to provide best practice resources to those involved in the fresh produce supply chain.

For more information, please visit the NAPTWG website, which now offers documents in Spanish and French, or contact Dan Vaché, United’s vice president of supply chain management, at 425-629-6271.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Leads to Healthier School Lunches

A recent study has confirmed that the benefits of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) go far beyond just providing students with a healthy snack in school. Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Illinois, Chicago found that the FFVP increased the availability of healthier options in school meals, such as the inclusion of more fresh fruit and vegetables at school lunch. The study was based on a nationally representative sample of public elementary schools, which led researchers to conclude that increasing the number of FFVP schools nationwide is a potential strategy for improving school food environments.

For years, school food service directors have observed that the FFVP encouraged students to also eat more fruits and vegetables at lunch. Over the last 10 years, many schools have emphasized that the FFVP has been instrumental in shaping children’s attitudes towards healthier eating.

“The FFVP is transformational; it provides many, many benefits to students, families and schools. This study confirms what I’ve seen visiting FFVP schools over the last 10 years. The FFVP increases students’ fruit and vegetable consumption, improves school lunch and helps create healthier school food environments,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition. Protecting the funding and integrity of the FFVP is a top priority for United Fresh in the 2012 Farm Bill.

The full research paper is available online. For more information, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Registration Open for September Produce Inspection Training Program

United Fresh is pleased to offer its popular Produce Inspection Training Program, the produce industry’s only USDA-instructed inspection training program, September 10-14 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 May sold out, so be sure to register your team today! The member registration fee for the introductory course is $895 and $1925 for both the 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.

Fresh Impact Magazine Advertising Now Available

Fresh Impact Magazine is the annual United Fresh publication that gives the industry an update on the latest policy issues and association activities. Advertising space is available in the upcoming issue of Fresh Impact, which will be sent to thousands of produce companies and distributed at the 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference. The issue will include in-depth information in preparation for the produce industry’s most powerful public policy event, including success stories from industry members on pressing produce policy issues like nutrition, food safety, and the November elections.

Flip through last year’s Fresh Impact Magazine to see why the issue was a hit! For more information, please click here or contact John Toner, vice president of convention & industry relations, at 202-303-3424.

Darden Aims to Use Produce Traceability to Increase Efficiency in Supply Chain

At the May PTI Leadership meeting, Darden, the world’s largest full-service restaurant company with core brands that include Red Lobster and Olive Garden, provided an update on traceability implementation in the foodservice industry. The company shared a vision to use PTI and the Foodservice GS1 US Standards to automate supply chain processes while increasing traceability and reducing costs for everyone along the supply chain. More on their progress towards their ambitious traceability goals and other news from the industry are available in the recently released FYI Update.

The May/June edition of the Produce Traceability Initiative FYI includes:

  • PTI Implementation Survey Finds Widespread Progress Toward All Milestones
  • PTI Helps Drive Change for Standardized RPC Labeling
  • Leadership Council Update From United Fresh Produce Show in Dallas
  • Traceability at Darden: Forging Ahead with PTI and Foodservice GS1 US Standards Initiative
  • New Checklists and Updated Best Practices for Private Label/Brand
  • Be Sure to Join the Official Produce Traceability Group on LinkedIn
  • And more!

PTI is a voluntary, industry-wide effort designed to help the industry maximize the effectiveness of current track and trace procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency of traceability systems for the future. Industry participants cover every segment of the produce supply chain. The PTI is an industry-led, supply chain-wide initiative governed by a 34-member Leadership Council.

You can access this and past editions of PTI FYI on the PTI website in EnglishSpanish and French. For further assistance, please contact Dan Vaché, United’s vice president of supply chain management, at 425-629-6271.

New Member Welcome

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

  • NMS Foodservice, Anchorage, AK
  • Orbis Solutions, LLC, Philadelphia, PA
  • Ross & Sons Refrigeration & Construction, Inc., Fresno, 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.

Summer Webinar Series: The 2012 Farm Bill
June 14, web-based

Summer Webinar Series: Food Safety Regulations
July 11, web-based

Summer Webinar Series: Nutrition
August 8, web-based

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

Summer Webinar Series: The Produce Message to Congress
September 12, web-based

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