June 20, 2013
In Today's Issue:
Farm Bill Defeated in the House

The House of Representatives today rejected the 2013 Farm Bill with a vote of 195-234. The defeat of the $940 billion bill raises questions about the future of farm programs as it wasn’t immediately clear what would be the next steps forward. United Fresh is disappointed that the Farm Bill was rejected by the House, and will continue to evaluate the best path forward to ensure continued support for critical specialty crop programs.

“We felt we had a very strong bill for specialty crops that was supported by members from both sides of the aisle,” said Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy. “We strongly encourage the House Leadership and the House Agriculture Committee to get back together and bring back to the House floor a bill that can pass before the current extension expires at the end of September.”

As a member of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, United worked closely with both the House and the Senate and produce industry stakeholders to secure support for several programs of particular importance to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, including essential research, pest and disease mitigation, trade, nutrition, and other programs.

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

Immigration Top Concern for United Members in Meetings with Senators

United Fresh members and industry allies meet with staff of Senator Donnelly (D-IN) on Wednesday.

United Fresh members Bill Troxell, executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association; Sarah Frey-Talley, president of Illinois-based Frey Produce;  were joined by Rob Amsterdam, Amsterdam Produce Enterprises; and Thomas Strzelecki, owner of Covered Wagon Produce; for meetings on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to urge senators to support the comprehensive immigration reform bill currently being debated. The delegation recounted the impact that labor shortages have had on their operations and explained the burdens agricultural employers face under the current system.

In meetings with congressional offices of Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Joe Donelly (D-IN), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and Mark Pryor (D-AR), United Fresh members and representatives from allied associations urged the senators to support for S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.   This legislation contains provisions for a much-needed and long-overdue new federal agriculture guestworker program to ultimately replace the current ineffective and broken system.

These meetings were particularly timely as both houses of Congress enter an intense period of activity on immigration policy. The Senate began debate on comprehensive immigration reform on June 11 and is expected to hold a final vote before the July 4 recess.

As the full Senate continues the debate on immigration reform, a bipartisan agreement on how to strengthen the proposals regarding securing the nation’s borders was announced, adding to the momentum toward Senate passage. The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee also made significant progress earlier this week when they voted on individual measures to address the need for a new agriculture guestworker program as well as enforcement of immigration policies.

Comprehensive immigration reform is within reach, and this may be the last chance for the produce industry to ensure that this critical issue is addressed. United Fresh is helping lead the charge to secure the stable and legal agriculture workforce that is necessary to the success of our members.

Now is a critical time for you to make your voice heard. Every email, call or visit to Capitol Hill makes an impact and takes us one step closer to turning this opportunity to reality.

There are two ways to step up and take action:

1. Call your senators today through United's Immigration Call Center
2. Send Congress a letter from the Grassroots Action Network

Tell Congress that your business needs a stable and skilled agricultural workforce to survive.  Our whole industry depends upon growers and packers being able to harvest and pack the nation's bountiful supply of fresh produce.  For more information, please visit www.unitedfresh.org/labor.


United Fresh Expands Recall Ready Program Offerings


United Fresh is proud to announce the expansion of its Recall Ready Program services with the addition of new training and education opportunities that leverage the expertise of the food industry's leading professionals in food safety, legal and regulatory counsel and crisis communication. The Recall Ready Risk Management Webinar and Recall Ready Training Workshops launched June 20 are in addition to the innovative services announced at the United Fresh 2013 convention, all of which are designed to help produce industry companies prepare for and respond to virtually any recall event.

Announced today, the Recall Ready Webinar, “Managing Risk for Contamination and Recall Events,” will provide a roadmap to safeguarding companies against catastrophic losses associated with recalls, contamination/adulteration, mislabeling and other scenarios. The July 10 session will feature expert speakers Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology, United Fresh; Jonathan Cohen, Partner, Gilbert LLP; and Michael Lieberman, Capital Risk Concepts; discussing the intricacies of varying insurance policies and endorsement options for government recalls and third-party indemnity.

Also announced, United will conduct two hands-on Recall Ready Training Workshops to cover the essential elements a business needs to manage a recall. The two-day sessions, offered September 18-19 in Monterey and November 6-7 in Philadelphia, will help attendees prepare for a recall situation by teaching the fundamentals of a recall, including the rights and responsibilities of the operation and how to work with the FDA, as well as strategies for limiting liability and managing customer expectations.

“For minimizing the impact of a recall on your business, there’s nothing more important than having a plan and making sure your team is prepared to execute that recall plan,” said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology.

The Recall Ready Program, which was launched at United Fresh 2013, is a partnership between United Fresh and the legal and communications experts at OFW Law and Watson Green, who are counted among the food industry’s leading crisis counseling firms. Companies can choose program service options that include a recall plan review, creation of a custom recall plan, and mock recall training. These program plans, with fees ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, help produce companies prepare for recalls and to learn how to deal with the surprises that can often arise during recalls.

United's Rapid Recall Response Team is available to companies who have completed a review or development of a recall plan, with on-call assistance from United and other experts from the first moments of a recall crisis. The plan offers a 24/7 recall hotline and 8 hours total consultation from United and Watson Green and includes discounts on legal and communications services, if needed, beyond the initial consultation period.

“This suite of services offers options for all different types and sizes of operations throughout the produce supply chain to prepare themselves for the possibility of a recall,” said Ray Gilmer, United Fresh vice president of issues management & communication. “The webinar and workshops announced today, as well as the other Recall Ready programs, ensure that a company’s entire staff can work together effectively and efficiently should a recall event occur.”

For more information, please visit www.unitedfresh.org/recallready.

Washington Public Policy Conference Early Registration Discounts End Today!

What connections will you make on Capitol Hill at this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference?

This fall, hundreds of produce industry leaders will connect in Washington to focus on a common goal of shaping a better business future for the produce industry. The Washington Public Policy Conference is the only event where the produce industry’s most prominent and influential executives gather for strategic, face-to-face dialogue with key members of Congress, their staff and top regulatory officials.

Early Registration Discounts End TODAY!

Come together with fellow industry executives and advance key issues affecting the produce industry. At this year’s event, you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • Meet with your congressional offices to focus on the produce industry's goals and priorities
  • Engage with expert speakers and policymakers in sessions addressing your top business needs
  • Connect with hundreds of produce industry leaders and exchange ideas to help ensure a more profitable future for the industry
  • Meet with FDA leaders to discuss how FSMA and other regulatory issues impact your business at the FDA Forum

Commit to the produce industry’s most powerful public policy event and make a real difference on the key issues affecting our businesses – Register Today!

For more information about the Washington Public Policy Conference, contact United Fresh at 202-303-3400 or info@unitedfresh.org.


United Fresh Releases 2013 Produce Industry Compensation Report

How does your payroll stack up to your competitors?

Executives saw a 2.9 percent increase in salary for the current fiscal year, according to the 2013 Produce Industry Compensation & Benefits Report released June 19 by the United Fresh Produce Association. The expansive 130-page research report presents data collected earlier this year through a confidential survey of produce industry companies. The 2013 report has been updated to include three new positions and an expanded section on employee benefit practices and detailed descriptions for job positions.

The report is designed to assist produce industry employers in understanding critical compensation benchmarks and directly compare their salaries and benefits for full-time positions across multiple business sectors, as well as by ownership type (family, private, public), type of business, produce sales volume, number of full-time employees and geography. 

The data in this year’s report represents a wide range of the produce industry with regard to company size, with nearly 26 percent of responses coming from companies with between 100 and 249 full time employees, and 31 percent coming from companies with fewer than 50 full time employees. Also represented is a large range of produce sales volumes, including nearly 26 percent of responses from companies doing $100-300 million in annual volume, and almost 17 percent from companies doing less than $15 million in sales annually.

Features in the 2013 compensation report include:

    • Adjustments to salary structure during the current fiscal year and anticipated adjustments for the coming year
    • Base salary, bonus, and total compensation figures for 32 full-time positions
    • Performance structure for bonus programs
    • Expanded data on insurance benefits and retirement plans
    • Non-salary compensation for employees, including stocks, vehicle allowance, cell phones, health clubs and more
    • Tracking of average employee turnover percentages

The report is available for purchase online. Companies that submitted data are eligible to receive a fully-customized report for their company at a deeply discounted rate of $195. Non-survey participants can order a survey report for $495 for United Fresh members and $695 for non-members. For more information on the report, please contact Victoria Backer at 202-303-3408.


United Fresh Releases Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment Tool

To assist producers and partners in developing, assessing and communicating their sustainability programs, United Fresh Produce Association has launched its Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment Tool. The guide is intended to assist producers in understanding four key areas of sustainability - stewardship of resources, environmental impacts, social accountability, and economic success/viability.

The Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment also provides a means for producers to share their story about practices and processes that many already incorporate in their operations. By completing their own evaluation of their sustainability programs, producers can develop concrete information that they can use in their own business, or choose to share with others to explain their commitment to sustainable practices. Most importantly, the guide is intended to be an educational tool for those wanting to know more about what practices enhance sustainability, and to evaluate, record and track their own practices.

"United's Sustainability Guide is not an audit, nor is it meant to become a requirement. Instead, it is a tool that can be used to increase knowledge, track progress, and tell the story of our industry's commitment to sustainability," said Ray Gilmer, United Fresh vice president of issues management & communication. "The self-assessment process is entirely confidential; you only share your sustainability information if you want to."

Additionally, the Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment includes a Companion Metrics Tool that highlights specific outcome measurements that producers can use to track results overtime. Together, these two parts afford producers a tracking tool to combine a practice-based analysis of major steps they are taking in enhancing sustainability, with key, outcome-based information.

The Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment was developed by the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Global Produce Sustainability, with the contributions of the Center's Sustainability Advisory Board, a group of United Fresh volunteer leaders representing a broad spectrum of the produce industry. The board met over a two-year period to develop the guide to help the entire produce industry supply chain define the key elements of sustainability. United Fresh wishes to acknowledge Bayer CropScience for its generous support of the Center for Global Produce Sustainability.

The guide is available online. A limited quantity of printed copies are also available. The guide is free to United Fresh members and for $75 for non-members.

Scholarship Steps Up Family Business Engagement on Capitol Hill

The 2012 Caplan Family Business Scholarship recipients experienced firsthand the impact of a united voice on Capitol Hill at last year's WPPC.

The United Fresh Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2013 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program. The program awards up to four scholarships for employees of family-owned businesses to attend United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference (WPPC) in October.

Scholarship recipients will receive complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend the WPPC, September 30 – October 2 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Washington Public Policy Conference brings together hundreds of produce leaders from all sectors of the industry to interact personally and share ideas with administration officials, congressional leaders and industry colleagues.

“This scholarship afforded such a unique opportunity to connect with our nation’s lawmakers and gain a deeper understanding of the policy-making process, and how those policies impact my family business,” said 2012 scholarship recipient TJ Rahll, Edward G. Rahll & Sons, Inc. “Walking the halls of Congress was an incredible experience and one that highlighted how important it is to be engaged so that our industry’s voice is heard in DC.” 

The Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program was established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc. to the United Fresh Foundation by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in honor of their mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan. The program is designed to increase family business' involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy.

To apply for a 2013 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship, participants must complete an application form and written submission outlining why they want to attend the WPPC and what they hope to gain from the experience. Applicants must be employed by a family-owned business that is a United Fresh member company in good standing; the program is open to first-time attendees of the Washington Public Policy Conference.  The application can be downloaded here and must be received by July 31.

For more information about the scholarship program, contact Shannon Young at 202-303-3405, and for more information about WPPC, or to register, contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

Support for Produce Industry Can Cut Obesity Rates, Health Care Costs

United’s Robert Guenther (far right) joins a panel to discuss opportunities for boosting fresh produce consumption to decrease obesity and related heath care costs.

The health benefits of robust support for fresh fruits and vegetables in the Farm Bill were touted at a panel Thursday morning hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC). The “Food and Farm Policy: Impacts on Health and Health Care Costs” session featured keynote remarks by Kathleen Merrigan, Former US Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, followed by a panel discussion with Robert Guenther, United Fresh senior vice president of public policy; Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman; Former Representative Charles Stenholm; Katherine Houston, Cargill Inc.; and Eric Olsen, Feeding America. Closing remarks were presented by Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman.

“There are several opportunities within the 2013 Farm Bill to promote healthy eating and reduce obesity rates, including the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and incentives for SNAP recipients,” explained Guenther. “As the House debates the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, it is important to consider how federal policy can support the fresh produce industry and a healthy population given the challenges of health care costs, tight budgets, and labor shortages.”

The event was inspired by BPC’s June 2012 report, Lots to Lose: How America’s Health and Obesity Crisis Threatens Our Economic Future, which provided evidence that the obesity crisis has significant consequences for our well-being, the economy, and national security.

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

PTI Update: Momentum Continues as Buyers Prepare for Implementation Roll-outs

A letter from Walmart to suppliers announcing that all fresh commodity produce will be required to have standardized case labels consistent with PTI best practices as of November 1 has sparked a new level of motivation to PTI implementation, which has seen slower adoption rates among retailers versus supply side trading partners. The PTI Leadership Council, representing 32 companies in the produce industry, held its biannual meeting in conjunction with United Fresh 2013 in San Diego last month, and reported that buyers are seeing between 22 and 50 percent of produce cases with PTI labels at their distribution centers and other facilities. Read more about how Walmart’s move and signals from other buyers are pushing traceability efforts forward in the recently released FYI Update.

The May/June edition of the Produce Traceability Initiative FYI also includes:

  • Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club Issue Vendor Letter for PTI Requirements
  • Update from Leadership Council Meeting - Produce Traceability Initiative Momentum Continues as Buyers Prepare for Implementation Roll-outs 
  • Case Study: Mushrooming Benefits of Traceability
  • Buyer Working Group Prioritizes Implementation Needs
  • FMI Update on Traceability
  • Complete the PTI Scorecard; Join us on LinkedIn
  • PTI in the News
  • And more!

PTI is a voluntary, industry-wide effort designed to help the industry maximize the effectiveness of current track and trace procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency of traceability systems for the future. Industry participants cover every segment of the produce supply chain. The PTI is an industry-led, supply chain-wide initiative governed by a 34-member Leadership Council.

You can access this and past editions of PTI FYI on the PTI website in English, Spanish and French. For more information, please contact Dan Vaché, United’s vice president of supply chain management, at 425-629-6271.

New Member Welcome
day planner

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

  • Terry Farms, Ventura, CA

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:

July 10, Webinar
Produce Inspection Training Program
Sept 16-20, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA
Recall Ready Training Workshop
Sept 18-19, Embassy Suites Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA
Washington Public Policy Conference
Sept 30 – Oct 2, Washington, DC
Recall Ready Training Workshop
Nov 6-7, Hilton Hotel, Philadelphia, PA