August 16, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Unite in DC to Support the Produce Industry’s Top Priorities

Representative McCarthy (R-CA) gives his perspective on industry issues at the 2011 WPPC.

The Washington Public Policy Conference is the only event where the entire fresh produce industry unites to make a real difference on produce industry priorities and helps ensure a more profitable future. Join produce industry colleagues and unite with our nation’s policymakers to advance these key priority issues!

  • Immigration - Working to Implement Rules For a Stable Workforce
  • Food Safety - Exploring Options to Protect Public Health and Business Viability
  • Nutrition & Health - Building Opportunities Together that Will Last a Lifetime
  • Farm Bill - Keeping a Strong Federal Commitment to Specialty Crops

“I think that United Fresh’s WPPC has become one of the most important conferences in the country,” said Jaime Weisinger of Lipman Produce. “It has given my company a forum to address its most important concerns with the leaders and policy makers of our county regarding issues that have the potential to affect our bottom line.  The unfiltered access that United’s staff provides us to congressional and cabinet level leaders is invaluable. “

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, DC and will bring industry leaders face-to-face with top policymakers at a pivotal moment with the presidential elections right around the corner. See which industry leaders are already signed up to March on Capitol Hill and register your team today!

For more information on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


FDA To Amend Facility Registration Requirements

FDA has published draft guidelines on additional information that must be provided when facilities register or re-register with FDA. Among other food categories, the new guidelines would require facilities to identify when they are handling “fruit and fruit products (including fresh produce, raw agricultural commodities, other fruit and fruit products)” and “vegetable and vegetable product categories (fresh cut products, raw agricultural commodities, other vegetable and vegetable products)”.

This does not change which operations are required to register with FDA, only clarifies information to be provided to FDA when registering. Also, operations already must indicate if they hold or process fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, but according to the categories in 21 CFR part 170.3(n), which mixes fresh produce in with other foods (e.g., juices, processed vegetables). While FDA plans to publish these new/revised categories as “guidelines”, they intend to treat them as mandatory fields in the food facility registration form when FDA finalizes this guidance. FDA has offered a 30 day comment period on this draft, after which they intend to finalize the guidelines.

As a reminder, FDA now requires facilities that are “engaged in the manufacturing/ processing, packing, or holding of food for consumption in the United States” to re-register every 2 years, during the period beginning on October 1 and ending on December 31 in even numbered years. This will first occur in October-December 2012. Operations considered by FDA to be “farms” continue to be exempt from the registration requirement.

More information about facility registration can be found at 21 CFR part 1.225 or by contacting Dr. David Gombas, United’s senior vice president of food safety & technology, at 202-303-3400.


Deadline Approaching for Advocate of the Year Nominations

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 Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one company a year that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry. Honorees are leaders that make an impact and drive the industry forward. United Fresh is proud to open the nomination process to the full fresh fruit and vegetable industry.

"These advocates utilize their position to drive the industry forward," said Robert Guenther, United's senior vice president of public policy. "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; and United Fresh membership. 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

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.


Register Today for Workshop on Harmonized Standards, Tomato Metrics

Mark your calendars for the Produce GAPs Harmonization Auditor Training & Tomato Metrics workshop, September 11-13, held at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD.

The first two days will feature the official training materials developed by the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Calibration Committee. The training is designed to calibrate auditors in food safety expectations of growing and harvesting operations using the Field Operations and Harvesting Harmonized Standards and is the final Train-the-Trainer workshop offering in 2012.

“While the Harmonized Standards go a long way to reducing the potential for conflicting food safety expectations, it all comes down to the auditor,” said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety & technology. “Having a single standard doesn’t reduce audit fatigue if different auditors interpret the standards in different ways. This workshop was developed to better calibrate auditors from different audit organizations in how the Harmonized Standards are supposed to be used. We’ll cover the details of what an auditor should expect to see at an operation, how an auditor should judge that operation based on the evidence they see, and how that judgment can change in different situations.”

The program also offers an additional third day, targeted to those auditors and operations interested in GlobalG.A.P. Produce Safety certification to meet buyers’ requirements for a GFSI audit. The September 13 session will also feature discussion on how the Tomato Metrics have been incorporated into the Harmonized Standards and the GlobalG.A.P Produce Safety certification.

Please note that you must attend the first two days of the workshop in order to complete the Auditor Training course. The third day is optional, for those interested in the GlobalG.A.P Produce Safety certification or Tomato Metrics.

Participation in the workshop is free, thanks to the generous sponsorship of USDA, GlobalG.A.P NSF and California Tomato Farmers, 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 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.


USDA Accepting Value-Added Produce Grant Applications

This week, USDA announced the availability of grants through the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program for Fiscal Year 2012. Approximately $14 million in competitive grant funds is available to help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities. At the discretion of the Secretary, additional funds may be made available to qualified ranking applications that respond to this announcement from prior year carry-over funds.

“These grants are a tremendous opportunity for our members,” explained Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “I encourage producers to take advantage of this resource to bolster processing and marketing activities or to develop an economic plan that will take the operation forward.”

Awards may be made for either economic planning or working capital activities related to the processing and/or marketing of valued-added agricultural products. The maximum grant amount for a planning grant is $100,000 and the maximum grant amount for a working capital grant is $300,000. A list of 2011 VAPG awards is available here.

Application materials are available here and must be submitted by October 15. For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.


Sharpen Your Produce Inspection Skills with Inspection Course

USDA instructor discusses inspection standards with students of the Produce Inspection Training Program.

The produce inspection process can be daunting, but the upcoming United Fresh Produce Inspection Training Program is designed to bring clarity for the produce supply chain.

The September 10-14 course 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 is a hands-on course 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 training course of the year, so be sure to register your team today! The member registration fee for the 2-day fundamentals course is $895 and $1925 for the full week training. If three or more colleagues register for both courses at the same time they will 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.


New Member Welcome

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

  • ESG Enterprises, Riviera Beach, FL

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.

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

Produce GAPs Harmonization Auditor Training 
September 11-13, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD

Summer Webinar Series: The Produce Message to Congress 
September 12

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