August 2, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Urges Action on 2012 Farm Bill

As a historic drought grips the Midwest, there have been discussions in the House to delay passage of the 2012 Farm Bill in favor of a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill paired with disaster assistance. Both the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees have made a strong effort to advance their respective versions of the 2012 Farm Bill. The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, of which United is a founding member, issued a statement on Monday in strong support of congressional efforts to pass the 2012 Farm Bill this year.

According to the statement, “We are concerned that a one-year extension falls short of that goal [to advance specialty crop priorities] and hinders access to key programs for our producers directly related to research, value-added producer grants, and important programs that enhance domestic production. An extension of the current law would be a missed opportunity to enact federal agriculture policy that increases access for specialty crops and fosters competition for our industry both domestically and globally.”

“We can’t let the voices of specialty crop producers that have helped shape the 2012 Farm Bill be pushed aside,” said Robert Guenther, Alliance secretary and United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “An extension of the current law would hinder the ability of producers to access much needed resources, as several important specialty crop programs, including the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Clean Plant Network, will lose funding.”

Yesterday, a coalition of agriculture groups sent another strong statement to lawmakers on Capitol Hill that emphasized the need for a Farm Bill. The statement recognizes that disaster assistance is a necessary priority, but that the current House proposal does not do enough to address the needs of the livestock and fresh produce industries. The full letter can be read here.

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400 or visit strongeragriculture.org.

 

United Fresh Now Accepting Nominations for Advocate of the Year Award

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel (far right) and Immediate Past Chairman Reggie Griffin (far left) present the Advocate of the Year Award to representatives of the 2011 winners: Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the National Watermelon Association.

The United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one United Fresh member each year that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry. Honorees are leading companies and associations that make an impact and drive the industry forward. United Fresh is proud to open the nomination process to all members.

"These advocates utilize their position to drive the industry forward," said Robert Guenther, United's senior vice president of public policy. "This award is our chance to say thank you. It’s always difficult to choose one advocate from the nominations received; it is always a very competitive, devoted and deserving group."

The award recipient is selected using the following criteria: demonstration of outstanding support for public policy advocacy with their federally elected leaders; diligent work on federal policy objectives to advance the fresh produce industry; active involvement with produce industry political initiatives such as the Washington Public Policy Conference, Grassroots Action Network and United FreshPAC. The recipient of this year’s award will be announced at the 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference.

United Fresh Advocate of the Year Award Winners:
2011 - Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, National Watermelon Association, Inc.
2010 - C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
2009 - Pro*Act, LLC 2008 - Walter P. Rawl & Sons
2007 - New York Apple Association, Inc.
2006 - Sunkist Growers, Inc.
2005 - L & M Companies 2004 - Produce for Better Health Foundation
2003 - Tanimura & Antle
2002 - Capital City Fruit Company, Inc

Click here to nominate an outstanding company or association! Nominations must be received no later than August 31, 2012.

For more information on the United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award, contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

Harmonized Standards, Tomato Metrics Workshop Announced

The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Calibration Committee has scheduled the second Harmonized Standards Train-the-Trainer workshop for auditors and all interested parties on the use and interpretation of the Field Operations and Harvesting Harmonized Standards.

The three-day workshop, September 11-13, will be held at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD. The first two days will feature the official training materials developed by the Calibration Committee, designed to calibrate auditors in food safety expectations of growing and harvesting operations using the Harmonized Standards. The third day is targeted to those auditors and operations interested in GlobalG.A.P. Produce Safety certification to meet buyers’ requirements for a GFSI audit. The third day will also feature how the Tomato Metrics have been incorporated into the Harmonized Standards and the GlobalG.A.P Produce Safety certification.

Participation in the workshop is free, thanks to the generous sponsorship of USDA, NSF, GlobalG.A.P and others, and is open to all interested parties. This is the last workshop planned for 2012, and there are limited spots available, so register soon! We are asking those who wish to attend to register using this form and return to Erin Grether at egrether@unitedfresh.org or call 202-303-3402. More information about the Harmonized Standards, including downloadable versions of the Field Operations and Harvesting and the Post-harvest Operations standards, is available on the United Fresh website.

Give Your Team the Produce Inspection Skills They Need to Succeed

A USDA instructor explains how to evaluate cucumbers in a Produce Inspection Training Lab Course.

Do you have staff who are new to the fresh produce business or need a refresher course? 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 last course of 2012 will be held in September, so register your team for the United Fresh/USDA Produce Inspection Training Program today!

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

In addition to learning all facets of produce inspection process, the course also offers a commodity labs segment where attendees spend three days doing hands-on commodity evaluations. The September lab will include grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries and tomatoes and up to seven additional produce items based on the most common requests of the class.

Class size is limited and registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. This is the final course of the year, and 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.

 

Tracing Grapes from Chilean Fields to US Grocery Stores with PTI

SubSole S.A. has implemented PTI recommended labels for their grape exports.

Subsole S.A. is a Chilean-based company composed of prominent fruit growers based in Chile founded in the early 1990s as a small grower cooperative with the purpose of exporting table grapes. The company agreed to work with a pilot team in March 2012 to solve a pressing food traceability challenge—tracking imported fresh produce into the United States at each step along the supply chain.

The pilot team focused on case and pallet labeling of red and green seedless grapes packed in two-pound clamshells and their over-sea journey from Chile to the United States. By applying PTI recommended labels with GS1 Global Trade Item Number® (GTINs®), the team was able to observe how the current supply chain is able to adapt to PTI and where more synchronization needs to occur. Data was successfully collected at ports and distribution centers, which has been a notoriously difficult task with inconsistent results. During this pilot, 450 cases linked to 275 shipments and 270 unique stores were tracked.

For more details on how this pilot project provided valuable input towards PTI implementation, continue reading here.

The Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) has listed several pilot projects as resources for operations looking to implement PTI. The pilot projects are designed to help answer implementation questions and to help develop well-informed best practices. 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 pilot projects, 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.

 

New Member Welcome

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

  • Crescent Fruit and Vegetable, LLC, Edinburg, TX
  • Revolution Foods, Oakland, 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

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