August 1, 2013
In Today's Issue:
2013 Summer Fresh Impact Tour Kicks Off in the Northeast

Dan Albinder of Hudson River Fruit Distributors and United's Jeff Oberman examine this year's crop a few weeks before harvest.

United's Robert Guenther, senior vice president, public policy and Jeff Oberman, vice president, trade relations began this year's Fresh Impact Tour in New York's Hudson Valley on Monday, July 26th.   The first day included orchard tours and a Town Hall luncheon in Highland, NY hosted by Kaari Stannard, President of New York Apple Sales and United Fresh Grower-Shipper Board Member and Leadership Program Class 12 Alumnus.  During the luncheon, apple and vegetable growers enjoyed a discussion on key policy issues such as Food Safety, Immigration Reform, The Farm Bill as well as United Fresh member programs and events.  Guenther shared "the timing of these events are critical for the industry as we have the opportunity to encourage our members to reach out to their members of Congress during the month of August when they are home in their district and share the importance of the industry and impact of these key issues on their operations."

The Tour continued into Massachusetts, with visits to the New England Produce Center, and a second town hall luncheon near Boston.  "The value of the Fresh Impact Tour is to gain feedback from our members on what issues and services are needed by their individual region and commodity segment," said Oberman.  He continued that, "we also utilize these events to increase the awareness of United Fresh programs and services and received interest on ways to maximize the value of United Fresh membership."  We greatly appreciate the generous support of luncheon hosts New York Apple Sales and the New England Produce Council.

This week's tours will conclude with grower visits and a Town Hall luncheon on Friday, August 2nd in Presque Isle, Maine hosted by Maine Farmers Exchange, Northeast Packaging Company and the Maine Potato Board. 

Throughout the trip, members and staff will be posting updates and photos to the United Fresh Twitter and Facebook pages. To register for an event or find more information on the upcoming Fresh Impact Tour, please visit the United Fresh website or contact Miriam Wolk, vice president of membership & marketing, at 202-303-3410.

Kaari Stannard from New York Apple Sales and United Grower-Shipper Board Member and Leadership Class 12 Alumnus, welcomes attendees to the Hudson Valley Town Hall Luncheon in Highland, NY. Robert Guenther discusses tomato market conditions with Peter John Condakes, President, Peter Condakes Company, during visit to New England Produce Center.

United Begins Review of FSMA Draft Rules on Imported Food and Third-Party Auditor Accreditation

United Fresh is working to conduct a thorough review of two draft food safety rules released last Friday by FDA. The proposed regulations, the Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals, and Accreditation of Third-party Auditors, join two previously released draft rules that address produce safety at the farm level and food processing and storage facilities.

Since January of this year, United Fresh has conducted a full review of FDA's proposed Produce Safety and Preventive Controls rules, bringing together member company experts from each segment of the produce supply chain. United will use that same process in the review of FDA's draft rules on imports and third-party auditors to provide comments to FDA.

"Initially, we don't see any surprises in FDA's draft rules on imported foods and third-party auditor accreditation," said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president for food safety and technology. "However, it's important that we thoughtfully review them in a line-by-line fashion, including analysis of their interaction with other FSMA draft rules, to ensure they advance food safety and are workable for the industry."

Some key elements of the proposed rule for foreign supplier verification:

  • Requirement for all foreign suppliers to have a U.S. importer agent of record.
  • Requirement for all importers to have a written Food Safety Verification Program (FSVP).
  • All FSVPs must be reassessed within 3 years, or when there have been significant changes.
  • The importer must conduct verification activities to ensure the foreign supplier 1) has controlled each of the hazards identified in the importer's hazard analysis and 2) is in compliance with relevant FDA regulations.
  • Instead of an onsite audit, an importer may use an FDA inspection or inspection of the foreign operation by an officially recognized food safety authority of the supplier's country, if performed within the past 12 months.
  • There are modified provisions (no exemptions) for "very small importers" or importing from a "very small supplier", defined as $500,000 or less annual food sales.

Some key elements of the proposed rule for third-party auditor accreditation:

  • Establishes requirements for "accreditation bodies," both in organization and in how it accredits certification bodies/third-party auditors.
  • "FDA will periodically evaluate the performance of each recognized accreditation body to determine its compliance with the applicable requirements."
  • "An FDA performance evaluation may include onsite assessments of statistically significant numbers of auditors/certification bodies the recognized accreditation body accredited and onsite audits of eligible entities such auditors/certification bodies certified."
  • Accreditation bodies can be recognized by FDA for up to 5 years before they have to reapply.
  • Accreditation bodies "must annually conduct a comprehensive assessment of the performance of each auditor/certification body it accredited" and submit a report to FDA.
  • Establishes requirements for certification bodies/third-party auditors, both in organization and in how it audits/certifies operations.

"FDA's release of these two additional rules is an important step to implementing the FSMA," added Dr. Gombas. "Because they are so interrelated, our view has always been that FDA must allow the industry to review all the FSMA proposed rules to allow us to adequately review their collective impact before any of them are finalized."

Comments on the proposed rules on foreign supplier verification and third-party auditor accreditation are due within 120 days of the July 29, 2013 publication in the Federal Register. FDA has indicated that the comment period for the draft Preventive Controls and Produce Safety rules will be extended 60 days past the current September 16, 2013 deadline.

For more information, please contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400.


Immigration Reform Bill Is Focus for August Congressional Recess

Immigration reform will be a top issue for discussion as the House of Representatives plans to adjourn for the August congressional recess at the end of this week. The House has yet to pass an immigration reform measure, and opponents of immigration reform have been extremely vocal about their views. It is critical that members of the House hear that immigration reform, including a framework for agricultural guest workers, is essential for ensuring a stable workforce for the produce industry. United Fresh urges members to speak out and voice their ardent support for immigration reform to the House of Representatives.

"We know that those who want to stop reform have been loud and have turned out in great numbers to try and thwart any effort to address this crucial issue," said United Fresh Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. "That's why it is so important that Congress hears the other side – that reform that includes a new agriculture guest worker program to secure the current workforce and provide for a future workforce is absolutely essential. 

Additionally, the White House on Monday released a report promoting the benefits of immigration reform to rural areas, and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said that agricultural production would decline if Congress doesn't address the issue.

For more information the immigration reform issue, and ways to contact members of Congress, please visit or call Julie Manes at 202-303-3404.

Ag Leaders Meet with U.S. Trade Representative

United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel and agricultural leaders representing grains, dairy and meat industries met Monday with new U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to discuss agricultural issues in upcoming trade negotiations.  Ambassador Froman was recently confirmed by the Senate, and begins his tenure as the United States' chief negotiator on global trade issues. "Agriculture plays a critical part in global economic growth," Stenzel said. "Yet the fruit and vegetable industry faces a myriad of frustrating trade barriers that need to resolved based on sound science, not protectionism.  We're encouraged that Ambassador Froman and his top agricultural staff understand these issues well, and will be working to help facilitate fair trade for our sector," he said.


Got a Minute? See the Exciting Preview of this Year's WPPC

Take a minute to see United's exciting video preview of the produce industry's most powerful public policy event. Hear what U.S. Reps. Jim Costa and Sam Farr think about United's Washington Public Policy Conference.  Register today for the March on Capitol Hill and the forum with FDA officials, plus educational sessions on labor management, the future of food safety and growing produce consumption. Join 500 other produce industry leaders, September 30 – October 2 for the Washington Public Policy Conference.


Did You Miss United's Recall Risk Management Webinar?

In the face of increased regulation and governmental authority, increased inspections and media attention, produce operations must prepare themselves for a recall situation. Options to safeguard operations against catastrophic losses during a crisis were laid out during the July 10 United webinar, "Managing Risk for Contamination and Recall Events."

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; discussed the intricacies of varying insurance policies and endorsement options for government recalls and third-party indemnity.

The discussion stressed that operations should not solely rely on a general liability policy for contamination events, but that additional coverage is multi-layered and varies greatly by insurer. Participants were advised to not buy on price alone, and to work with a broker who has experience and an understanding of the produce industry.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

The Recall Ready Risk Management Webinar was just one component of the Recall Ready Program, which also offers recall plan development, training and workshops to help produce industry companies prepare for and respond to virtually any recall event. It also offers rapid response services to assist during recalls. For more information, please visit or contact Erin Grether, government relations coordinator, at 202-303-3402.


New Member Welcome
day planner

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

  • Food Freshly North America, Mississauga, ON

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:

Summer Public Policy Webinar Series: How the Implementation of FSMA Will Affect Your Business
Aug 13, Webinar

Summer Public Policy Webinar Series:  What Congress Needs to Know About Your Business
Sept 4, 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