August 23, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Market Segment Education Gives You an Informed Advantage at WPPC

The Washington Public Policy Conference offers you market segment education sessions that address labor, food safety, fruit and vegetable consumption and social media. The conference gives grower-shipper, fresh-cut processor, wholesale-distributor, and retail-foodservice leaders the opportunity to engage with expert speakers on the issues that directly impact their business. The breakout education sessions, designed by United’s Market Segment Boards, will give valuable insight into the programs and policymakers that are influencing the issues, with a unique Capitol Hill perspective.

Join us for the Produce Industry’s Most Powerful Public Policy Event, and for a slate of education sessions that give your operation an informed advantage.

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 growers and workforce management experts to learn how companies can most effectively cope with a tightening labor market.
Speakers:
Carmen Ponce, Vice President of Human Resources, Tanimura & Antle
Craig J. Regelbrugge, Vice President, Government Relations, American Nursery & Landscape Association

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.

Speakers:
Dr. Samir Assar, Director, Produce Safety Staff, Office of Food Safety, FDA CFSAN
Caroline Smith DeWaal, Food Safety Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Donald Schaffner, Ph.D., Extension Specialist in Food Science, Professor, Rutgers University
Dr. Jenny Scott, Senior Advisor, Office of Food Safety, FDA CFSAN

Wholesaler-Distributor Session
Opportunities to Drive Produce Sales Through School Lunch Programs

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

Speakers:
Lorelei DiSogra, Vice President, Nutrition & Health, United Fresh Produce Association
Jeff Mills, Food Service Director, DC Public Schools
Phil Muir, President & CEO, Muir Copper Canyon Farms

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.

Speakers:
Mary Ellen Burris, Senior Vice President, Consumer Affairs, Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
Sue Borra, Senior Vice President, Communications, FMI
Rob Poetsch, Communications and Engagement Consultant, Taco Bell

Register now for the Washington Public Policy Conference! For more information, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

 

United Fresh Joins Farm Bill Now Coalition in Push for New Farm Bill

United Fresh has joined a coalition of 39 of the nation’s foremost agricultural organizations in an effort to raise public awareness of the need for Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year Farm Bill before current farm programs expire in September.

“We are at a critical point for the fresh produce industry and the broader agriculture community. There is a lot at stake with this Farm Bill, and we are proud to join with these 39 agriculture associations and coalitions to show our support for a comprehensive bill this year,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy.

The group issued a statement on the importance of new farm legislation for America’s farmers, emphasizing the broad economic impact of the Farm Bill. The full statement and a list of partners can be found here.

“It’s a bill that affects every American,” said the statement. “The Farm Bill has broad impact on our citizens and our economy. It provides healthy foods to millions of schoolchildren and nutritious options to families in need. It develops and expands trade with valuable foreign markets. By reducing spending significantly compared to prior Farm Bills, the proposals pending right now in Congress address the need to get our nation’s fiscal house in order.

The Farm Bill Now Coalition urges Americans to speak up about the importance of the bill: “While Congress waits to finish the Farm Bill, we are united in asking all Americans to encourage legislators—home for summer town hall meetings and speeches—to finish this vital legislation before the current farm and food law expires in September.”

To this end, Farm Bill Now has launched an interactive web portal at www.FarmBillNow.com, through which visitors to the site can connect to their members of Congress, sign an online petition and find details for upcoming Farm Bill Now events in Iowa and on Capitol Hill.

For more information on Farm Bill Now and to get involved in ensuring that American agriculture has the security and certainty that it needs, please visit FarmBillNow.com.

 

57 Salad Bars Donated to New York City Schools

Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped welcome Whole Foods to East 57th Street with an announcement of the salad bar donation before the store opened to the public.

Today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the Whole Foods Foundation is donating salad bars to 57 New York City schools throughout the city’s five boroughs. The 57 salad bars are being donated to schools to celebrate the opening of a new Whole Foods store on East 57th Street. More than 40,000 area students will benefit from the salad bars, which will offer a wide variety of fresh vegetables every day for kids to choose from.

“Giving every student access to healthy fruit and vegetables is the next step in countering the obesity epidemic and getting kids started on a healthy habit for life. Kids love salad bars in schools – I keep hearing that they are often the first choice for lunch – and this donation from Whole Foods will help bring this delicious and healthy option to more kids,” said Mayor Bloomberg.

“New York City School Foods set a goal to have a salad bar in every school and this donation from Whole Foods brings them much closer to meeting that goal. With over 1,000 schools in NYC, only 143 still need salad bars. Thanks to Whole Foods and many United Fresh produce industry contributors, more than 75 NYC schools have received salad bars through Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools over the last 2 years,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & health. Whole Foods noted that this donation will benefit education and increase students access to healthy fresh fruits and vegetables.

Last year, Mayor Bloomberg visited a school in the Bronx to tout a study that cited a drop in the city’s childhood obesity rate. The Mayor made the announcement in front of the school’s salad bar, mentioning the NYC Department of Education’s efforts to promote more fruits and vegetables and salad bars in school meals.

As more than 33 million students go back to school all over the country, they are finding healthier school lunches that include double the amount and a wider variety of colorful fruits and vegetables. New nutrition standards for school lunch went into effect on July 1, 2012 requiring schools to serve meals with more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and less fat, calories and salt. USDA’s School Day Just Got Healthier campaign emphasizes the important changes that are transforming school cafeterias. More fresh fruits and vegetables and salad bars are now a reality in thousands of schools nationwide.

Whole Foods is a founding partner of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, along with United Fresh Produce Association Foundation, The National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance and the F3 Foundation. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to reduce childhood obesity. For more information on how you can support Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, please contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.

 

Do You Know an Advocate Making a Difference for the Fresh Produce Industry?

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.

 

Workshop on Harmonized Standards, Tomato Metrics Filling Fast!

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.

 

Hands-On Course Teaches Produce Inspection Fundamentals

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.

 

USFRA Training Prepares Producers to Be Conversation Leaders

The US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance is hosting a webinar to help farmers and ranchers share their perspectives and inform public dialogue on a range of current agriculture issues. The webinar will equip producers to act as Conversation Leaders with a three-session series. Each day's session will focus on a different topic, including story development, panel and media participation and social media (beginner and advanced sessions).

“USFRA is an organization that has attracted a broad range of agriculture stakeholders and they have really helped shape the dialogue about our food and the people who produce it,” said Ray Gilmer, United’s vice president of communications. “I would encourage our members to take advantage of this opportunity to learn some new techniques for effectively communicating their story to consumers.”

To become a USFRA Conversation Leader attendees must join all three of the sessions, which are scheduled for August 27-28 and the third on September 10 or 11. There is no pre-work, however homework (which will require a minimal time commitment) will be assigned at various points throughout the series. 

This is the final USFRA Conversation Leader Training, so register today!

 

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