Thursday, July 12, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Specialty Crops Continue Strong Showing in House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill

Chairman Frank Lucas managed the Farm Bill markup that included more than 100 amendments.

United Fresh congratulates House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson and the House Agriculture Committee for advancing the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act” (FARRM). The Committee’s proposed Farm Bill was passed with a vote of 35-11 and reinforces many of the commitments that were included in the Senate-passed legislation.

Included in the House version are many provisions that support the efforts of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. These programs include:

  • Specialty Crop Block Grants at $70 million per year;
  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative at $25 million in FY13; $30 million in FY14-15; $65 million in FY16; and $50 million in FY17;
  • Plant Pest and Disease programs at $71.5 million starting in FY13. This is an increase over the Senate version;
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program at 2008 Farm Bill levels;
  • Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion program;
  • Section 32 specialty crop purchases at 2008 Farm Bill levels; and
  • DoD Fresh Program at 2008 Farm Bill levels.

In addition, the bill advanced by the House includes an amendment that will help strengthen the risk management tools for specialty crop providers. Representative Dennis Cardoza’s (D-CA) amendment calling for a feasibility study of providing risk management for those adversely affected by food safety recalls is similar to the language adopted by the Senate

Unfortunately, the House bill makes a significant policy change to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program by eliminating the program’s focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Opening this program to all forms of fruits and vegetables undermines the goal and focus of the program, which is to provide a fresh option to more than 3 million American school children,” explained Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “On a business level, this change has the potential to decrease fresh produce growers’ opportunities to provide fresh produce to children that likely would not otherwise have access,” he stated. “Congress needs to hear from producers and parents that understand the value of this program, and this will definitely be a major issue we address at this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference in our one-on-one meetings with congressional offices.”

The Washington Public Policy Conference, October 1-3, brings produce industry leaders together to influence policy and drive progress on critical issues. Two days of meetings with lawmakers will give attendees the opportunity to explain the importance of providing fresh fruits and vegetables to children, which is a powerful message coming from a constituent.

United Fresh remains committed to working with agriculture allies to urge lawmakers to pass the 2012 Farm Bill before the current law expires on September 30 this year.

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


Feinstein Addresses Industry Priorities at United FreshPAC Event

Senator Feinstein (right) talks produce policy at United FreshPAC event.

United Fresh hosted a fundraiser breakfast for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) this morning, the second in a series of United FreshPAC events this summer. Feinstein is currently serving her fourth term in the Senate, representing the state of California. She is the current chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and also serves on the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Senator Feinstein spoke with FreshPAC supporters about the importance of the produce industry in California and the challenges the industry is currently facing, including labor and food safety. Attendees were able to engage with the senator in an open question and answer discussion.

“Senator Feinstein truly understands the value of specialty crop producers, not just in her state but across the nation,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “She has been an adamant supporter of our cause and this was a great chance to show our support of a candidate that supports the fresh fruit and vegetable industry’s priorities.”

United FreshPAC is a voluntary political action committee that provides the produce industry the opportunity to help elect and re-elect candidates who understand and take action on issues important to United members. For more information on the FreshPAC and how to make an investment to grow our industry, visit the FreshPAC website or contact Angela Tiwari, political affairs manager, at 202-303-3416.


Washington Public Policy Conference Presents Market Segment Focus Sessions

United Fresh is excited to announce the cutting-edge market segment education sessions that will be featured at the 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference. The sessions will feature expert speakers addressing critical industry issues and encourage attendee engagement in dialogue regarding segment-specific progress.

Grower-Shipper Session:
Managing Your Workforce in a Harsh Labor Environment

As authorities enforce rigorous and confusing new state immigration laws, especially after the Supreme Court ruling upholding Arizona’s immigration law, agricultural employers must find new strategies to ensure access to a steady workforce. Join this interactive session with government immigration enforcement officials, growers and workforce management experts to learn how companies can most effectively cope with a tightening labor market.

Fresh-Cut Processor Session:
The Outlook for Pathogen Testing by Government Agencies

Random government pathogen testing at retail does little or nothing to protect public health, but has caused huge impact forcing processors to recall product most often already consumed. What’s the future of government testing and is there hope to design more effective protocols? During this session regulatory experts will look to the future of pathogen testing and what may be required of fresh-cut processors under the new Food Safety Modernization Act.

Wholesaler-Distributor Session:
Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales Through Government Feeding Programs

With new government regulations requiring an increase in fruits and vegetables in federal feeding programs, government agencies and school districts will be looking for innovative ways to incorporate fresh produce in their school menus. Learn how programs like the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program and USDA’s Fresh Produce Purchasing Pilots can offer growing business opportunities for the wholesale and distribution sectors.

Retail-Foodservice Session:
Retail & Foodservice Operators as Targets of Social Media Activism

Social media has given consumers an influential platform to drive policy issues, often bringing pressure on retail and foodservice company image. Whether campaigns focus on GMOs, so-called pink slime, labor standards, or other issues, high-profile restaurants and supermarkets are becoming pressure points in social media efforts to influence public policy. Learn from peers how to engage positively with consumers in social media, without sacrificing to pressure tactics designed to intimidate.

Register now for the produce industry’s most powerful public policy event! For more information on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


United Announces New Webinar on Immigration Policy Changes

United Fresh has added an additional webinar to the 2012 Summer Public Policy Webinar Series. The new session, “Federal Immigration Policy – Uncertainty Reigns,” will provide a timely update on recent immigration topics such as the recent Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s immigration law and the president’s announcement on the status of young adults brought to this country illegally as children. Major questions exist regarding how Congress will act on comprehensive reform of our country’s immigration laws.

On Tuesday, July 24 at 2 pm ET, join United Fresh and immigration experts to discuss the recent Supreme Court decision and what impact it will have on the produce industry. Experts will also be discussing what Congress will do to address the immigration issue and what it means for your ability to maintain a stable, experienced workforce.

“With the recent developments on the issue of immigration, the direction of federal immigration policy has been left in doubt,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “We’ve prepared this webinar in the hopes that it will give the industry some clarity on what it all means, what can be expected in the coming months and how to most effectively communicate our industry’s labor needs to Congress.”

This webinar is part of a four-part series featuring monthly, one-hour webinars. All sessions will be recorded and accessible on demand to all registered participants. The webinar series is free for United Fresh members and only $149 for non-members. Register Your Team Today!

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


Deadline Approaching for Family Business Scholarship!

2011 Caplan Family Business Scholarship recipients took their message to Capitol Hill at the Washington Public Policy Conference.

The July 31 deadline for applications for the 2012 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program is quickly approaching! Don’t miss this chance to advocate for your family business on Capitol Hill. The program recognizes up to four employees of family-owned United Fresh member businesses with complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the association's annual Washington Public Policy Conference, October 1-3 in Washington, DC.

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in honor of their mother, Frieda. The program, administered through the United Fresh Foundation, is designed to increase family business' involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.

“This program gives family-owned businesses the opportunity to send their employees as ambassadors to Capitol Hill,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. “Family businesses have a unique perspective on industry issues, and with the one-on-one meetings with policymakers that this conference offers, it’s a powerful chance to make their priorities known.”

Applications for the 2012 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship must be received by July 31. For more information about the scholarship program, contact Shannon Young at 202-303-3405.


Put Your Produce Inspection Knowledge to the Test!

USDA trainer explains to Produce Inspection Training Program participants what to look for when inspecting lettuce.

Do you know the two visible differences between Burmuda Granex-Grano (BGG) and Northern onions? Or the color requirement of a calyx for a US No. 1 Strawberry? Take our Produce Quality Inspection Quiz to test your knowledge and preview the material that will be covered in the upcoming Produce Inspection Training Program!

The Produce Inspection Training Program, September 10-14, is the produce industry’s only USDA-instructed inspection training program and is held 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.


Next Week’s Produce Transportation Webinar Filling Fast!

Don’t miss out on the webinar that will help ensure your produce shipment escapes the heat this summer! The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG) will host a webinar on produce transportation best practices on Wednesday, July 18 at 11:00 am PT/2:00 pm ET. The session is filling quickly, register now!

The session, sponsored by Sun World, will give an overview of the best practices and delve into the roles and responsibilities of the shipper, carrier and receiver in facilitating a seamless, safe, and sustainable global supply-chain. Speakers include industry veterans with varied perspectives: Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management, United Fresh; Doug Stoiber, vice president, L&M Transportation Services, Inc.; Jim Gordon, operations manager, Ippolito Fruit & Produce LTD.; and Doug Nelson, special services manager, Blue Book Services, Inc. A question and answer period will follow the presentation and the session will be posted on the website as a resource.

“As summer quickly approaches, the webinar will be especially valuable to anyone involved in the movement of perishables and refrigerated cargo via truck,” said Dan Vaché, vice president of supply chain management for United Fresh. “It’s vital that the entire industry be on the same page when dealing with the movement of fresh fruits and vegetables. We need to ensure the cold chain remains intact and to prevent complications in the distribution and delivery of our fresh and wholesome products.”

Registration is complimentary to all interested parties. Register now!

This is the first in a series of educational webinars the NAPTWG will hold. For more information, please visit the NAPTWG website, or contact Dan Vaché, 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.

  • Organix Recycling, LLC, Mokena, IL
  • Simplot Plant Sciences, 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.

Summer Webinar Series: Federal Immigration Policy
July 24

Summer Webinar Series: Nutrition
August 8

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

Summer Webinar Series: The Produce Message to Congress
September 12

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