May 30, 2013
In Today's Issue:
You Can Impact Immigration Reform

Industry leaders phone their senators and representatives at United Fresh 2013 to urge their support of comprehensive immigration reform.

Comprehensive immigration reform is closer to becoming a reality. On May 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that includes agriculture labor provisions that the fresh produce industry has been advocating. The full Senate has begun consideration of the bill, but a final vote is not expected until mid-June, after the senators return from recess.

Recess doesn't mean the work stops. United Fresh is helping lead the charge to secure a stable and legal agriculture workforce. WE NEED YOU to turn this opportunity into reality!  WE NEED YOU to join the effort to make sure Congress knows you need a viable guest worker program and it MUST PASS NOW!

Take action and contact your senator today! Congressmen are in their home districts this week to hear from constituents, and the messages they receive will inform how they vote on passage of comprehensive immigration reform next week.

"Every call that our members make to their senators and representatives will have an impact," said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. "This important issue has been unresolved for too long, and the fresh produce industry cannot miss the opportunity to drive this landmark reform forward."

The language approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee includes a new agriculture worker program, which provides for a market-based federal program to ensure a steady and experienced agriculture labor force. The new agricultural workforce framework was developed through negotiations between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition, of which United Fresh is a founding member, key senators and agriculture labor.

The new program allows current, experienced agriculture workers to stay in the U.S. while adjusting to legal status. It also establishes a future workforce program, which provides employers and employees with flexibility through either an "at-will" or contractual arrangement under a three-year visa program. The new proposal also allows for a transition period from the current H-2A guest worker system to the new program to ensure that employers will not face gaps in program availability and resulting workforce shortages.

United Fresh urges members to visit United's Grassroots Action Network website, where they can quickly send a message to their lawmakers to ask for support of the immigration reform bill.

United Fresh continues to advocate passage of immigration reform and agricultural workforce provisions by the full Senate, as well as by the House of Representatives later this year.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther or Julie Manes at 202-303-3400.


Industry Sees Growth on the Horizon at United Fresh 2013


Tom Deardorff, Deardorff Family Farms, talks about the new market opportunities for produce and the challenges created by an inadequate labor supply. Watch the full video on United Fresh TV.

Attendees at United Fresh 2013 brought an optimistic spirit with them to San Diego. "People are adding new equipment, refreshing their equipment," said Heath Biggs, Pacmac Packaging Specialties from the show floor. "There is a sense that everything is turning around and that the economy is hopefully getting better."

Many industry leaders were taking matters in to their own hands regarding a common industry concern that has been a limiting factor in production: a shortage of labor. At the United Fresh Membership Booth, attendees called their senators and representatives to urge their support of comprehensive immigration reform.

"We are increasing our organic production capacity but unfortunately we're running in to situations where we're not planting acres because we know we won't have the labor to harvest them," said Tom Deardorff, Deardorff Family Farms. "So even though there are a lot of positives in the market place and demand for what we're producing, we don't even have enough labor to harvest what we would need to meet that demand."

Other exhibitors noted that serious business conversations were taking place over both days on the buzzing show floor, with new innovations driving sales. United Fresh TV was able to catch up with several exhibitors to talk about their experience at the show, with a special appearance by two young up and coming produce marketers at the Mastronardi booth. See the video here!

The celebration of 436 salad bars for California schools is also featured on United Fresh TV. Tune in to hear what the students receiving salad bars had to say about fresh fruits and vegetables and remarks by California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson.

Tune in to United Fresh TV today!

 

Cantaloupe Guidance Document Now Available in Spanish


A Spanish version of the National Commodity-Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Cantaloupes and Netted Melons is now available to the industry. The new food safety resource follows the initial release of the guidelines in February 2013.

"The cantaloupe industry has made great progress in addressing food safety priorities and this is just one more tool for producers in ensuring the highest standards are used in their operations," said Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology.

The guidelines are the result of a collaborative effort by many industry stakeholders, including United Fresh, Western Growers, and Produce Marketing Association, and provide a modern framework for production, harvest, post-harvest and handling of cantaloupes that can be utilized by any size operation. The guidance can be downloaded at no charge by visiting this website: www.cantaloupe-guidance.org.

This new Spanish version of the cantaloupe guidance will allow access by many more growers, packers, handlers and others in the industry," said Ray Gilmer, United Fresh vice president of issues management and communication. "Making this essential information available to as many people as possible is a priority for the cantaloupe industry." 

In addition to the National Guidance, other industry-developed guidance documents for cantaloupes are available. Please contact United's Dr. David Gombas or Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3400 for more information. More information on food safety can be found at United's Food Safety Resource Center.


Deadline Approaching: Hands-On HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry Workshop

University of Georgia's Fresh-Cut HACCP Short Course workshop will offer the fresh-cut produce industry the necessary tools to establish an in-plant HACCP program. This year, United Fresh members will gain extra value from an updated agenda that will address forthcoming FSMA regulations and the proposed Preventive Control Rule as they relate to the fresh-cut produce industry.

The course will draw attention to three main sources of contamination – microbial, chemical and physical – that may occur as fresh produce moves from the field through the processing plant to the table. HACCP is a specific action plan developed to identify and control any of these hazards from entering the handling process, and to document the safety of fresh-cut produce.

The three-day course, held June 11-13 at University of Georgia's Athens campus, will provide a unique program of lectures and work group discussions from a broad-based faculty of food microbiologists, HACCP experts, authorities from academia, industry and government. The work group sessions provide interaction with HACCP authorities who have developed and implemented successful HACCP programs in fresh-cut processing plants.

In the hands-on laboratory participation the participants will learn which microbial testing tools to use to document and verify your sanitation program, how to interpret microbial results and which standardized procedures are best for consistent microbial analysis in testing fresh-cut produce.
The program is open to owners, plant managers, quality assurance personnel, production supervisors, field inspectors, marketing directors, and anyone responsible for designing and implementing field and fresh-cut food safety programs.

Register by May 31! United Fresh members receive discounted registration. Click here for more information or contact UGA at 706-542-2574 or efs@uga.edu.

 

Learn How to Sell Fruits and Vegetables to the USDA

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's Fruit and Vegetable Program is hosting a series of free, interactive webinars on the various programs and services available to producers.  At each webinar, participants will hear a presentation from a USDA expert on a specific topic and take part in an interactive question and answer session. 

The first webinar in the series, "How to Sell Fruits and Vegetables to the USDA," will take place on June 27 at 2:00 pm ET. The hour-long session will provide background and information on how to sell produce to USDA. Each year, USDA purchases over $530 million and 1.1 billion pounds of frozen, processed, and fresh fruits and vegetables to be used in school feeding programs and food banks.

These informative webinars are designed for fruit and vegetable growers, packers, shippers, processors, wholesalers and retailers of all sizes.  All of the webinars are free and available to all. Registration is, however, required and space is limited. Register today to take the first step to gaining a competitive edge and learning how to work together with USDA to meet your unique business needs. 

For more information about the webinar series or USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, please contact Christopher Purdy at (202) 720-3209.

 

New Member Welcome
day planner

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

  • Columbia Onion, Mattawa, WA

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 Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

Produce Inspection Training Program
June 3-7, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

Washington Public Policy Conference
Sept 30 – Oct 2, Washington, DC

 



 
 
 


 

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