October 4, 2012
In Today's Issue:
Washington Public Policy Conference Makes an Impact on Capitol Hill

2012 Washington Public Policy Conference attendees preparing to March on Capitol Hill.

More than 500 industry leaders carried the produce message to the offices of senators and representatives from 30 states in the annual March on Capitol Hill. The 2012 Washington Public Policy Conference attracted attendees from 36 states, Canada, Greece, Italy and Mexico. The event featured speakers with an array of perspectives on current industry hot-topics and market segment education sessions that sparked dialogue on the latest pressing issues.

“This year’s WPPC really highlighted the passion and focus that United Fresh members put towards their advocacy efforts,” said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. “We had a strong turnout of members who were engaged in all aspects of the program. Between the congressional visits and the education sessions, the event was productive, spirited, and overall, a success!”

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan highlighted USDA’s support for specialty crops in her keynote remarks, just days after the September 30 expiration of the Farm Bill. “We have seen such dividends from the 2008 Farm Bill,” she said, and called the lack of action on a 2012 Farm Bill “an unnecessary speed bump for agriculture.” Merrigan cautioned that the USDA could face a $3 billion budget cut in sequestration, with potentially devastating consequences for specialty crop programs. She also reaffirmed USDA’s position on the new school meal requirements, saying, “These are important standards. The science says to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, and that is where USDA stands.”

Market segment education sessions brought together panels of experts to discuss the latest developments in labor, nutrition, food safety and social media. The Grower-Shipper session presented strategies to manage a workforce in a harsh labor environment, while the Wholesale-Distributor session focused on opportunities to drive produce sales through school lunch programs. A large crowd in the Fresh-Cut Processor session heard about the outlook for pathogen testing by government agencies, and Retail-Foodservice attendees learned how to engage positively with consumers on social media and how to avoid becoming the target of online activism.

Thanks to the generous support of 200 contributors, United FreshPAC raised more than $80,000 at this year’s FreshPAC dinner. Contributors enjoyed the spectacular view of Washington, DC from the rooftop of Charlie Palmer’s. The event featured candid remarks from former Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) about the political landscape on Capitol Hill, followed by sharp political satire by the Capitol Steps. 100 percent of the FreshPAC funds will be used to support members of Congress who understand fresh fruit and vegetable priorities and have demonstrated themselves to be allies to the industry.

“The Washington Public Policy Conference is such an important event in that it reminds Congress how policies affect our industry,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “Hearing from constituents influences lawmakers’ priorities, and I encourage United Fresh members to follow up on their congressional visits to help drive a successful grassroots advocacy campaign that preserves the gains the specialty crop industry has made.”

Don’t miss highlights from this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference!


Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools Campaign Kicks off at WPPC

Karen Caplan, Task Force co-chair, announces the campaign has already raised enough funds for 102 salad bars.

WPPC marked the launch of Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools, a campaign to donate salad bars to 350 California schools at the United Fresh 2013 convention in San Diego. United Fresh members are encouraged to support the charitable commitment that will culminate in a milestone donation.

The Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools campaign is spearheaded by four California produce industry leaders passionate about increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables with school salad bars: Karen Caplan, President and CEO, Frieda's Inc; Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin, Vice President of Community Development, Taylor Farms; Lisa McNeece, Vice President of Foodservice and Industrial Sales, Grimmway Enterprises, Inc.; and Dick Spezzano, President, Spezzano Consulting.

The campaign has already made progress, Caplan announced at the WPPC Closing Luncheon. “We’re very competitive in California, especially when it comes to Texas. At last year’s United Fresh convention we donated 100 salad bars. I’m proud to announce that we have already raised funds for 102 salad bars towards our goal of 350,” she reported.

Caplan, McNeece, D’Arrigo-Martin, and Spezzano will co-chair United Fresh’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools Task Force, which includes 25 produce industry leaders from throughout the state of California:

  • Jerry Butt, Mixtec Group
  • Mark Carroll, Gelson's
  • Greg Corrigan, Raley's
  • Marty Craner, B & C Fresh Sales
  • Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission
  • Natasha DiPretoro, True Organic Products
  • Sue Foerster, California Dept. of Public Health
  • Phil Henry, Henry Avocado Corporation
  • Cindy Jewell, California Giant Berry Farms
  • Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Company
  • David Krause, Paramount Citrus
  • Wes Liefer, Pura Vida Farms
  • Carissa Mace, Fresh Produce and Floral Council
  • Angela Nardone, N2N Global
  • Sheri Normandin, MCL Fresh, Inc.
  • Gina Nucci, Mann Packing Company
  • Marty Ordman, Dole Food Company
  • Gordon Robertson, Sun World International
  • Roger Schroeder, Stater Brothers
  • Bob Spence, Ready Pac
  • Abby Taylor-Silva, Grower-Shipper Association/GSA Foundation
  • Al Vangelos, Novelle Consulting
  • Josh Waters, Safeway
  • Fred Williamson, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce
  • Mary Wright-Rana, PRO*ACT, LLC

The United Fresh Foundation set a goal to donate 350 salad bars based on the large number of requests from California schools. The Task Force will raise funds from produce and retail industry colleagues, related businesses and foundations. Over the last two years, more than 180 California schools have already received salad bars through contributions from United Fresh members and other Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools contributors.

At United Fresh 2013 in San Diego, a May 15 press event will celebrate the salad bar donation to California schools. Sponsors will be recognized at the event and featured prominently in signage and printed materials at the convention, as well as on the United Fresh and Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools websites. Most importantly, the salad bars highlight the produce industry’s commitment to improving child nutrition and combating childhood obesity and recognize the important health benefits of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.

Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools is a program of the United Fresh Foundation, a founding partner of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, a national initiative that has donated more than 1,600 salad bars nationwide, increasing children’s access and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunch every day. The program supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.

To learn more about how you can make a difference in California and support the Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools initiative, contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots manager at 202-303-3407 or visit saladbars2schools.org.

Salad Bars Take Center Stage at Washington Public Policy Conference

United Fresh Chairman-Elect Ron Midyett (far right) accepts a $50,000 check from (L-R) Max Yeater, PRO*ACT President; Phillip Muir, CEO and President of Muir Copper Canyon Farms; and Steve Grinstead, PRO*ACT CEO.

PRO*ACT demonstrated their commitment to the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools campaign with a $50,000 check presented to the United Fresh Foundation at yesterday’s Washington Public Policy Conference closing luncheon. The funds will purchase 20 salad bars to be placed in schools throughout the country that have applied for support through Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools.

“We’re proud to help make it possible to get more salad bars into more of our nation’s schools,” said Steve Grinstead, CEO of PRO*ACT. “It’s a step in the right direction toward combating childhood obesity and educating kids about the importance of a healthy diet. PRO*ACT supports the United Fresh Produce Association and its Foundation and we commend them for their leadership role in this initiative. Our distributors supply many school districts across the country and we believe that putting salad bars in schools, and giving kids access to multiple fruit and vegetable choices, is an important component to increasing consumption of fresh produce and creating healthier lifestyles. We are glad to participate in this initiative to educate school children about the role fruits and vegetables play in a healthy diet.”

For more information on Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, please contact Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots manager, at 202-303-3407.

Four Seasons Produce Honored as Industry Advocate of the Year

Four Seasons Produce President and CEO Ron Carkoski accepts the United Fresh Industry Advocate of the Year Award.

The United Fresh Industry Advocate of the Year Award was presented to Four Seasons Produce at this year’s WPPC. The award pays special recognition to a United Fresh member that goes above and beyond as an advocate for the entire produce industry.  In presenting the award, United President and CEO Tom Stenzel told of the political leadership provided by Four Season’s founder David Hollinger, and cited the entire management team's commitment to speaking as advocates for the produce industry.  “In fact, Four Seasons brought 11 associates to this year’s conference as a management training tool, demonstrating the depth of their commitment,” Stenzel said.

Ron Carkoski, president & CEO, accepted the award on behalf of Four Seasons Produce. “I’m honored to accept this award, and can’t stress enough the importance of being involved and advocate for the industry,” he said.

The award is based on outstanding support for public policy advocacy working directly with political leaders, interaction with industry colleagues to build support for key policy objectives, and active involvement with produce industry political initiatives such as United’s Grassroots Action Network, United FreshPAC and participation in the Washington Public Policy Conference.

Past honorees include:

2002 - Capital City Fruit Company

2003 - Tanimura & Antle
2004 - Produce for Better Health Foundation
2005 - L & M Companies
2006 - Sunkist Growers
2007 - New York Apple Association
2008 - Walter P. Rawl & Sons
2009 – PRO*ACT
2010 - C.H. Robinson Worldwide
2011 - Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, National Watermelon Association


Stenzel Chairs International Federation for Produce Standards Meeting in Holland

IFPS Board members listen to tomato grower Ton Janssen at the Floriade horticultural expo in Venlo, Holland.

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel and Vice President of Supply Chain Management Dan Vaché attended a meeting of the International Federation for Produce Standards (IFPS) in Venlo, Holland last week. Stenzel is the current Chairman of IFPS, a federation of national produce associations from around the globe with the long term objective to improve the supply chain efficiency of the fresh produce industry through developing, implementing and managing harmonized international standards. The group also oversees the global standards and use of international Price Look-Up (PLU) numbers.

The meeting included a presentation by GS1 Fresh Foods Industry Group on IFPS supply chain information management, with a focus on harmonizing of international produce standards to meet the needs of the worldwide supply chain preparing the way for the use of electronic data interchange (EDI). Vaché provided an update on the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI), which was of particular interest to the many attendees who export product to the United States.

Stenzel, Vaché and other attendees from around the globe also toured the Floriade World Horticulture Expo, an exhibit held once every 10 years, and ZON Fresh Park, a fruit and vegetable auction, trade, and logistics center at Green Port in Venlo. The tours were accompanied by discussions on current market trends and the role of standardization in the global food supply chain.

USDA Announces Specialty Crops Block Grants, Research Initiative Funding

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $101 million in grants to support America's specialty crops producers this week. Approximately $55 million of the total will be invested in 56 specialty crop block grants to states that fund 748 initiatives across the country to strengthen markets and expand economic opportunities for local and regional producers. An additional $46 million will go to support new and continuing research and extension activities to address challenges and opportunities for growers and businesses that rely on a sustainable, profitable specialty crops industry. The 2012 project summaries and view a list of awards by location are available here

"By investing in projects that stimulate growth and development for specialty crop growers of all sizes, we're helping American farmers establish a marketplace for new businesses opportunities in each region of the country," said Vilsack. "These investments will support local and regional markets, and improve access to healthy food for millions of children and supply thousands of farmers markets, restaurants and other businesses with fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables. The grants also help growers solve technology needs or make better informed decisions on profitability and sustainability, leading to stronger rural American communities and businesses."

Vilsack's announcement also highlighted $46 million in new and continuing grants through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), which supports the specialty crop industry by developing and disseminating science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops. Funded projects include citrus greening research, a program to develop genomic resources to fight downy mildew in spinach, specialty crop pollination sources and more. For a full list of awards, click here.

“Specialty Crop Block Grants and the Specialty Crop Research Initiative are major resources for our industry, said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “These programs need continuous authorization to be effective, which is one of the major reasons we are pressing Congress to take action and pass a Farm Bill now.”

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy, at 202-303-3400.


USDA’s Bob Keeney Recognized for 35 Years of Service at WPPC

Bob Keeney (L) accepts a token of appreciation from United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel.

United Fresh honored Bob Keeney for his 35 years of service to the produce industry at the Washington Public Policy Conference. Keeney recently retired from his post as Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Fruit and Vegetable Programs, a position he has held since 1994. His role at AMS has included oversight of fruit and vegetable inspection programs, marketing orders and marketing agreements for more than 30 commodities, market news programs, the Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act, and $350 million in annual commodity purchases for domestic feeding programs.

“Some of you may not know that Bob is also a member of the United Fresh family,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO. “He joined United as a very young man in 1977 and served as vice president for government relations and international trade before heading to USDA in 1987. The produce industry will always appreciate everything he has done for us throughout his career.”

See You in San Diego for United Fresh 2013!
Dean Taylor

We’re looking forward to seeing you as we sail away into Fresh Horizons at United Fresh 2013 in San Diego! Mark your calendars for May 14-16 and set your course to discover new business, new contacts and fresh ideas to help your business grow and succeed.


New Member Welcome
Welcome New Members!

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

  • AMC Direct, Inc. Glassboro, NJ
  • NC Growers Association, Vass, NC

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

2013 Produce Executive Development Program 
March 10-15, 2013, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
United Fresh 2013
May 14-16, 2013, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA