September 6, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Presidential Nominees Respond to Produce Industry’s Top Issues

United Fresh members are always looking for a way to make a fresh impact on produce policy. To help members make the best choice in the November presidential election, United Fresh submitted questions to the Obama and Romney campaigns about the produce industry's top issues: immigration, food safety, agricultural regulation, Farm Bill, taxes and nutrition.

See President Obama’s and Governor Romney’s Exclusive Policy Responses Here!

“The candidates took the opportunity to specifically address the concerns of the produce industry by responding to our submitted questions,” said Ray Gilmer, United Fresh vice president of communications. “These statements give members of our industry the information to make an informed decision and they underscore how important the produce industry is in this race.” 

Both candidates expressed support for investments in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry in the 2012 Farm Bill. “Fruits, nuts, vegetables and other similar crops are vital components for the health and well-being of the nation,” said President Obama in the statement. “That’s why I have endorsed a farm bill that recognizes the diversity of American agriculture and the importance of providing access to healthy foods by supporting programs that focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts and organic crops. I am also widely committed to seeing these products widely adopted as part of a healthy American diet.”

Governor Romney’s campaign also responded, noting the changing role of government in agriculture: “Agricultural policy in this country is evolving, moving away from decades of government intervention and subsidies toward a more market-based system. Governor Romney appreciates the importance of federal investment in initiatives the federal government is uniquely positioned to undertake, such as research on and help with pest and disease control. These are valuable investments that benefit both producers and consumers, and for which federal investment is necessary,” said the statement.

Get involved this election year and register for the 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference to make a real impact on produce industry priorities! For more information, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


The Produce Message to Congress: What Do Policymakers Need to Hear From You?

Representative Sam Farr (D-CA), at left, engages with industry leaders on agriculture policy at the 2011 Washington Public Policy Conference.

Join us next Wednesday, September 12 at 11:00 am Pacific / 2:00 pm Eastern for the final session of United's Summer Webinar Series and hear the most up-to-the-minute developments on key issues affecting the produce industry and the opportunities to influence policies that impact your business at the Washington Public Policy Conference next month.

The expert panel will provide their firsthand knowledge on how important WPPC is to ensuring the optimal legislative and regulatory environment needed for produce industry success.  Attendees will also gain insight on how to make the most of interactions with members of Congress and the administration throughout the conference. Register today and hear from these expert speakers:

  • Tom Deardorff, Deardorff Family Farms, Vice Chairman of the Grower-Shipper Board
  • Tony Freytag, Crunch Pak Sliced Apples, Vice Chairman of the Fresh-Cut Processor Board
  • Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, United Fresh Produce Association
  • Julie Manes, Director of Government Relations, United Fresh Produce Association
  • Randy Russell, The Russell Group

The webinar will last approximately one hour. Participants can log-in live to hear from industry and government experts and ask questions that address their specific business priorities. The session will be recorded and accessible to all registered participants. 

“Congressmen listen to their constituents,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “This webinar is designed to strengthen the voice of the produce industry, so that whether we are writing letters, making phone calls, or visiting congressional offices at the Washington Public Policy Conference we are delivering a unified, effective message.”

This is the final session of United’s four-part summer webinar series that featured Washington’s top policy experts and industry leaders sharing important trends, observations and insights into critical federal topics such as the 2012 Farm Bill, labor and food safety regulations.

Register now to make an impact on the priorities that matter most!  

This program is complementary to United Fresh Members and for a fee to non-members. For more information on the Summer Public Policy Webinar Series, click here or contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


2012 Family Business Scholarship Winners Ready for Washington

2012 Family Business Scholarship Winners (clockwise from top left): Martha Montoya, Daniel Mueller, T.J. Rahll, Jr., and Kurt Schuster.

The United Fresh Foundation Center for Leadership Excellence is pleased to announce the four recipients of the 2012 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarships:

Martha Montoya, Los Kitos, Orange, California
Daniel Mueller, Volm Companies, Idaho Falls, Idaho
T.J. Rahll, Jr., Edward G. Rahll & Sons, Inc., Jessup, Maryland
Kurt Schuster, Val Verde Vegetable Co., Inc., McAllen, Texas

Now in its 12th year, the scholarship program provides the opportunity for employees of family-owned businesses to attend the annual United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference. Each of the four scholarship recipients will receive complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the conference, October 1-3, in Washington, DC. Winners were selected by a review committee based on a number of criteria such as interest in advocacy work, commitment to the industry, and overall application quality.

“The Washington Public Policy Conference is a key platform to connect with important political leaders and helps ensure the voice of the produce industry is heard by our nation’s decision makers,” said United Fresh Foundation Chairman Steve Grinstead of PRO*ACT. “We look forward to welcoming our four scholarship recipients to DC to engage in this important grassroots event.  Their presence is certain to help us leave a positive imprint in Washington.”

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program is made possible through a generous grant from Frieda’s, Inc. to the United Fresh Foundation. The program was founded in 2001 by sisters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins to expand opportunities for representatives from family businesses to attend the Washington Public Policy Conference and help make a difference for the produce industry. The Foundation accepts new applications for the program each summer.

“We are extremely appreciative to the Caplan family for their leadership and generosity in providing this opportunity for family businesses,” said Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, foundation. “This program helps illuminate the importance of being involved in the political process and ensures the interests of our family business members are brought forward.”

For more information on the scholarship program or on the Washington Public Policy Conference, please visit, or contact United Fresh at 202-303-3400.


Food Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel spoke out this week about the shared responsibility of the produce industry for ensuring food safety. The opinion piece, featured in The Packer, reflected on a tumultuous summer for the industry, with several high profile recalls, and concluded that food safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“While food safety begins with an individual company, our industry is only as strong as our weakest link,” said Stenzel. “From grower through retailer and foodservice buyer, we must all work together to ensure that our supply chain delivers the safest possible product to every consumer, every time.”

“If there is a silver lining in the dark clouds we’ve experienced as an industry this summer, I hope that it refocuses every company on its own personal responsibilities. We each have a critical role to play, and that must be our commitment every day, with every case of produce. We won’t prevent food borne illness by pointing fingers at each other. Our only hope is to work together.”

The full column, “Recalls bring silver lining of stronger focus” is available online.

United Fresh is committed to advancing food safety in the produce industry. For more information, please visit the Food Safety Resource Center or contact Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety & technology, at 202-303-3400.


Bring Your Fresh Produce to Capitol Hill for United’s Fresh Festival

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-9) checks out the produce at the 2011 Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill.

There’s still time to sign up to exhibit at this year’s Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill

This year’s Fresh Festival will take place on Tuesday, October 2, following meetings between industry leaders and members of Congress as part of the March on Capitol Hill. 

A unique event that's become one of the most talked-about receptions during the Congressional calendar, United’s annual Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill is the produce industry’s opportunity to share fruit and vegetable tasting samples and to highlight issues important to the industry while mingling with members of Congress and key DC decision makers.

We’re looking for interested companies to bring fruits and vegetables directly to the doorstep of Congress to showcase the best our industry has to offer! All companies that exhibit at the Fresh Festival receive one complimentary registration to the Washington Public Policy Conference. For more information about the Fresh Festival, click here.

Let’s make sure the produce industry continues to host one of the best Congressional receptions of the year!

For more information about exhibiting at this year’s Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill, contact Andrew Marshall, United’s policy & grassroots manager, at (202) 303-3407.


United Joins Agriculture Industry Allies at Democratic National Convention

Democratic National Convention action took place in Charlotte this week, where agriculture stakeholders gathered to support industry priorities.

Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy, was in Charlotte this week for the Democratic National Convention. United was proud to co-sponsor the Leaders of American Agriculture LLC event on Tuesday. Hosted by former Secretaries of Agriculture Dan Glickman, Mike Espy and Bob Bergland, the event attracted hundreds of industry guests and featured remarks by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“It’s an important chance to represent the industry and make our presence and priorities known,” said Guenther. “Charlotte is such a vibrant city, a great place to be hosting the Democratic National Convention.”

With the campaign season in full swing, United Fresh members are encouraged to get involved by registering for the 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference, the produce industry’s most powerful public policy event. For more information, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Harmonized Standards, Tomato Metrics Workshop Is Next Week!

Registration is still open for the Produce GAPs Harmonization Auditor Training & Tomato Metrics workshop, September 11-13, held at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, MD.  Register now to reserve your seat!

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 now! 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.


Final Produce Inspection Course of the Year Filling Fast

USDA inspector directs students in the hands-on lab portion of the Produce Inspection Training Program.

Don’t let your team miss out on this valuable educational offering, only a few spots remain! The upcoming United Fresh Produce Inspection Training Program is designed to bring clarity to the produce inspection process and is a great opportunity for new employees or those who may need a refresher.

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.


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