July 26, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Webinar Explains Immigration Policy Changes, Looks to Future Congressional Action

United’s Tuesday webinar, “Federal Immigration Policy – Uncertainty Reigns,” dove into the intricacies of current state and federal immigration policies. Expert speakers presented the second session in the 2012 Summer Public Policy Webinar Series, which continues to provide members with updates on issues critical to the fresh produce industry.

The webinar addressed recent immigration policy changes, 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. Immigration experts Craig Regelbrugge, American Nursery and Landscape Association, Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform; Monte Lake, CJ Lake, Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform; and Laura Foote Reiff, Greenberg Traurig, gave insight into how current immigration laws impact the produce industry.

Julie Manes, United’s director of government relations, agreed that major questions exist as to how Congress will act to comprehensively reform immigration laws. “The decision by the Supreme Court may not have been directly about agriculture operations or practices but it has definitely had a major impact in terms of what our industry can do to attract and maintain the stable workforce needed to remain afloat as a business. These recent changes come against a backdrop of a lack of federal action, so where we go from here is unclear,” she said.

The question and answer period of the session proved that some in the industry are concerned about how the debate on immigration reform will take shape. Participants asked about the potential of mandatory E-Verify legislation to reemerge in the new Congress and how the presidential election will influence policy.

Regelbrugge recapped the tough situation the industry is in. “We have I-9 audits at record levels of agriculture employers and labor contractors, we have extremely disruptive and hostile state laws, and H-2A, the only legal program to bring in labor and has descended into something resembling chaos and doesn’t work well. We have emerging labor shortages in places that haven’t seen them in a long time or if ever.” He remained optimistic, reminding listeners, “The question of immigration and labor law reform should be part of every political conversation you have. The power to influence political action on this issue comes from constituents; it comes from engaging with your congressmen.”

The webinar was part of a four-part series featuring monthly, one-hour webinars. All sessions will be recorded and accessible 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.

 

Why Should You Be in Washington, D.C. This October?
The Washington Public Policy Conference is the produce industry’s chance to take our message to Capitol Hill. The annual conference will be held October 1-3 in Washington, D.C. and will bring industry leaders face-to-face with top policymakers at a pivotal moment when legislators are in session and the presidential elections are right around the corner.

“It’s never been more important, as a member of our industry, to show support for our agenda. Every time we meet with politicians, they always remind us how important it is for them to hear from the producers and all those involved in the supply chain,” said Tom Deardorff, Vice Chairman of the Grower-Shipper Board, Deardorff Family Farms, explaining why WPPC is such an important industry event.

Who will join this year’s March on Capitol Hill? Click here for a list of registered attendees and register your team today!

“The more we can stand up in numbers and show them how important these issues are to us, the more effective we can be, whether it’s on immigration reform, food safety, regulatory reform. If we don’t support our issues as an industry by attending the conference and walking the halls of Congress, then we’re not going to get their attention,” continued Deardorff.

For more testimonials from industry leaders who have reaped the benefits of attending WPPC, click here. For more information on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

 

Salad Bars and Produce in Spotlight at SNA Conference

Jessica Shelly, School Food Service Director, speaks about her experiences with salad bars in Cincinnati Public Schools and positive responses from children and parents alike.

Phil Muir, President and CEO of Muir Copper Canyon Farms, speaks at the “Putting Produce in its Proper Place: On Half the Plate” workshop at SNA Convention.

School nutrition leaders from around the country learned about the benefits of salad bars and fresh produce at the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual conference in Denver last week. United Fresh hosted two well-attended workshops, “Putting Produce in its Proper Place: On Half the Plate” and “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.” As schools nationwide are working to implement healthier school meals by the start of the 2012-13 school year, the SNA conference provided United Fresh and our produce industry members with an excellent opportunity to promote fresh produce.

Phil Muir, United Fresh member, President and CEO of Muir Copper Canyon Farms; Jessica Shelly, Food Service Director, Cincinnati Public Schools; and Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health; presented the “Putting Produce in its Proper Place: On Half the Plate” workshop focused on the goal of serving a greater variety of fresh produce on school menus and developing working relationships between produce distributors and schools. The session, attended by school district directors and supervisors, explored creating a business partnership with produce distributors, writing an Request for Proposal (RFP) to procure produce, working together on menu development, price, availability, seasonality, buying local and increasing students’ produce consumption. Muir Copper Canyon Farms provides produce to more than 40 school districts in Utah, Idaho and western Wyoming. The presentation is available here.

The “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” workshop focused on how salad bars are one of the most effective ways for schools to meet the new school lunch requirement to double the amount of produce served everyday and to make a colorful variety of vegetables available each week. Salad bar experts Diane Harris, Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools lead at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Shelly and DiSogra emphasized that salad bars increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption and are great messaging tools for schools to showcase how they are improving the healthfulness of school meals. Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative and has donated more than 1,400 salad bars to schools nationwide.The presentation can be viewed here.

United Fresh members exhibiting at the SNA convention’s Produce Row noted that there was an increased interest from attendees on how to include more fresh produce in school meals. For more information on Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools or to donate to the cause, please contact Andrew Marshall, United’s policy & grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407.

 

July 31 Is Application Deadline for Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program!
Are you employed by a family business?
Do you want to learn more about critical issues that are affecting your business?
Do you want to make a difference for the produce industry?
Do you want attend the largest produce policy event in Washington, DC for FREE?

The July 31 deadline for applications for the 2012 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program is next week! Don’t miss this chance to advocate for your family business on Capitol Hill. The program recognizes up to four 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.

 

Growers Express Takes Produce Traceability to the Field

A Growers Express field manager enters information for traceability labels which are applied in-field.

Growers Express is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of fresh vegetables, with more than 50,000 acres in cultivation in Arizona, Oregon, Ohio and Michigan, as well as Mexico and Canada. The farmer-owned integrated grower, packer, shipper operation has proven that traceability is a critical element to success, assigning GS1 Global Trade Item Numbers® (GTINs®) to every one of the 18 million cartons of produce grown and shipped annually. The labels are printed and applied in the field by the harvest crews. The company stands out in the fresh produce industry because of its aggressive implementation of Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) recommendations, including case-level labeling for 100 percent of its products, the first company in the sector that has done so.

“GS1 and PTI provide the essential foundation for traceability, transparency and accountability,” explained Jaime Strachan, CEO of Growers Express. While the company has never been subject to a recall, it has seen the effects of widespread recalls in its industry. “If we don’t have standardized coding – with the embedded information it is able to provide – it is difficult to discern harvested product from one field to another. We would have to recall an extensive amount of produce without this system.”

By shifting to GTIN labels, the company has made gains in productivity and accuracy at all levels. “We moved quickly because we recognized that internal efficiencies would be gained, thereby improving our operations overall,” recalls Strachan. He estimates that Growers Express saves upwards of $90,000 on carton consolidation alone annually. To read more about Grower Express’ path to traceability, click here.

The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) has listed several case studies as resources for operations looking to implement PTI. These case studies document early adopters' experiences implementing the PTI within their companies. 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.

For additional case studies and resources, please visit the PTI website. For more information on the Produce Traceability Initiative, please contact Dan Vaché, United’s vice president of supply chain management, at 425-629-6271.

 

Hands-On Produce Inspection Training Course Slated for September

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!

Join us for the Produce Inspection Training Program, September 10-14, for the produce industry’s only USDA-instructed inspection training program, 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.

 

Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business.

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