August 8, 2013
In Today's Issue:
Immigration Reform, Food Safety, Increasing Consumption Highlights of Midwestern Town Halls

United Fresh kicked off another series of Town Halls this week in the Midwest. The events started in Poseyville, Indiana, with a major luncheon focused on Immigration Reform. Co-hosted by United Fresh and Frey Farms, the luncheon rallied hundreds in the local community with a high-energy discussion about the critical need for a legal and viable workforce. Frey Farms President & CEO Sarah Frey-Talley was joined by United President & CEO Tom Stenzel, along with Former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez to lead the discussion. Tom strongly encouraged the industry to call their Members of Congress to support an agricultural guest-worker program.

United staff then traveled west to St. Louis for a town hall luncheon hosted by Bryan Roberts, Produce Buyer, at Save-A-Lot, followed by another event in Kansas City, hosted by United Board Member, Scott Danner, COO of Liberty Fruit Company. In each venue, the diverse produce audiences engaged in discussions on a wide range of issues including the impact of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the need to build a legal workforce system, managing health care reform, and opportunities to increase children's consumption of fresh produce.

"When Congress is out of session, this is our opportunity to get out of Washington and talk one-on-one with members on their turf, in their local communities," said Tom Stenzel. "Different issues impact our members differently, so this is chance for our members to tell us what's really happening in their operations and what's impacting their livelihood."

The town halls continue throughout the month with the next events taking place August 8 in Visalia, CA; August 9 in Salinas, CA; August 12 in Milwaukee, WI; and August 13 in Stevens Point, WI. Click here for the full list of upcoming events and to join us! 

United Brings Fresh Impact Tour to Salinas

Join United Fresh Friday (Aug. 9) in Salinas for the next stop in the Summer 2013 Fresh Impact Tour, Hear from Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, President and General Counsel, Jim Bogart; United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel; Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman and local industry leaders as we engage in candid discussion on current critical issues that will dramatically impact your business, including: 

The Food Safety Modernization Act Proposed Rules 
Immigration Reform for a Stable and Legal Workforce 
Increasing Consumption to Maximize Produce Sales 

This event starts at 11:30 a.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided, and it's free! Please RSVP for the event to United's Sophie Drayton at 202-303-3433.  


Free Webinar Examines How FSMA Rules Impact Your Business

United Fresh next week offers a free webinar that will examine the potential impact on your business of FDA's proposed food safety regulations. During the webinar, Tuesday, August 13 at 2 p.m. EDT, hear key insights from United's Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology, about the recently released draft rules on imported foods and third-party auditor accreditation. Dr. Gombas will share the most up-to-date information on comments United is hearing from members about the proposed rules. He will also discuss other ongoing FDA activities and how they are affecting the fresh produce industry, preparing you for what you'll hear at the FDA Forum during United's Washington Public Policy Conference, September 30 to October 2.

Click here or contact Erin Grether for more information and to register for the webinar.

Dine Like a President at United's FreshPAC Event

Satisfy your sophisticated palate while dining with an exclusive view overlooking the Washington, DC, skyline during United's FreshPAC Reception and Dinner, Monday, September 30. Experience a spectacular event hosted by former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib, with each course based on First Family favorites. Chef Schieb will lead you on a culinary journey offering a fascinating personal view of two First Families, the corridors of political power, international personalities, and presidential mansion, all from a unique vantage point – the White House kitchen. This year's FreshPAC event is held at The Newseum, located between the U.S. Capitol and the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue, and consistently ranked as one of Washington's most popular venues.

This year's FreshPAC Reception & Dinner is held in conjunction with the Washington Public Policy Conference. Information and tickets are available here, or contact Angela Tiiwari at 202-303-3416.


Nominations Are Open for the United Fresh Advocate of the Year Award

Have you and your company made an outstanding impact on the industry through your advocacy efforts?  Do you know an exceptional produce industry advocate who should be recognized for his/her public policy activities?  Submit a nomination today for the 2013 United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award.

Each year, this award pays special recognition to one United Fresh member company or association whose dedication to advocacy and public policy drive the industry forward. The winner will be recognized at the 2013 Washington Public Policy Conference.

The winner will be selected using the following criteria:

  • Current member of United Fresh
  • Demonstration of outstanding support for public policy advocacy with their federally elected leaders
  • Diligent work on federal policy objectives to advance the fresh produce industry
  • Active involvement with produce industry political initiatives such as the Washington Public Policy Conference, Grassroots Action Network and United FreshPAC

Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award Recipients
2012 - Four Seasons Family of Companies
2011 - Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association; National Watermelon Association
2010 - C.H.Robinson Wordwide, Inc.
2009 - Pro*Act, LLC
2008 - Walter P. Rawl & Sons
2007 - New York Apple Association, Inc.
2006 - Sunkist Growers, Inc.
2005 - L & M Companies
2004 - Produce for Better Health Foundation
2003 - Tanimura & Antle
2002 - Capital City Fruit Company, Inc.

At this year's conference, you'll also have the opportunity to hear from a few of our past Advocate of the Year winners during our September 30 Lessons from the Advocates panel. don't miss this chance to hear from these inspiring leaders as they share their experiences of success in produce business advocacy.

Jim Lemke, Senior Vice President, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
Bob Morrissey, Executive Director, National Watermelon Association, Inc.
Charles Wingard, Director of Field Operations, Walter P. Rawl & Sons, Inc.

Nominate an outstanding produce industry advocate. Nominations will be accepted through August 22.

For more information on the United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award, click here or contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Reserve Your Spot TODAY at the Annual Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill

There's still time to reserve a booth at the 2013 Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill!  A unique event that over the years has become one of the most talked-about receptions on Capitol Hill, the Fresh Festival is the produce industry's time to shine. With more than 500 guests expected to attend, it's the industry's once-a-year opportunity to bring fresh fruits and vegetables direct to the doorsteps of Congress.

This year's Fresh Festival, Tuesday, October 1, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m., is held during the Washington Public Policy Conference  and starts immediately following the "March on Capitol Hill," where WPPC attendees meet with members of Congress and key legislative staff about the policy issues affecting their businesses and the broader industry.

Exhibitors at this event include produce companies, commodity commissions and state departments of agriculture. Companies that exhibit at this event can educate members of Congress and Congressional staff about their products, while portraying the industry in a positive light.

All companies that exhibit at the Fresh Festival receive one complimentary registration to the WPPC.

For information about exhibiting at the 2013 Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill, contact United Fresh policy and grassroots manager, Andrew Marshall at (202) 303-3407.


Deadline Coming for Wholesaler-Distributor Operations Benchmarking Survey

The August 12 deadline is approaching fast for participating in the United Fresh Wholesaler-Distributor Operations Benchmarking Survey. The survey is designed to assist wholesalers and distributors in measuring the effectiveness of their warehouse management, transportation fleets and overall operations. Help us create this valuable resource for the segment by completing the survey today!

This confidential survey will ask wholesalers and distributors for information on their labor practices, sales practice metrics, procurement and inventory management, warehouse metrics and outbound transportation. After responses have been compiled from the industry, a final report will be developed that includes breakdowns by company size, type and geographic location. Survey participants will also receive a customized report that shows how their responses compare to the overall survey results.

To complete the survey, please visit Remember, the survey will be closed after August 12, 2013.

"The more companies that participate, the more robust a data set we will have to inform produce wholesale and distribution companies about current business trends," said Lisa Strube, Chairman of the Wholesaler-Distributor Board and director of finance and administration at Strube Celery & Vegetable Company. "I would encourage the sector to complete the survey and encourage friends and colleagues to do so as well."

Once the final report is published, it will be available to members for $195 and non-members for $295. Companies who provide data through the survey will be able to purchase the report for $95. Questions about the survey can be directed to Miriam Wolk, United Fresh vice president of membership & marketing, at 202-303-3410.


Changes to Pre-Harvest Harmonized Standards Now Official

The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Technical Working Group (TWG) has approved and made changes to the Field Operations and Harvesting Harmonized Food Safety Standards official. The new version of the Harmonized Standards will become obligatory on November 1, 2013. The new version is posted on the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative webpage,

David Gombas, Sr. Vice President, Food Safety and Technology for United Fresh, said, "Six changes were approved back in July of 2012, at the last TWG meeting. They were posted on the GAP Harmonization webpage and we received no comments or concerns. The Calibration Committee, which includes ten of the audit organizations using the Harmonized Standards, revised the training materials for auditors in May, but asked that we allow the previous version to be used during this summer's growing and harvest season. So, while the standards have now been officially changed, operations can still use the 2011 version through October." 

The goal of the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative is one audit by any credible third party, acceptable to all buyers. To achieve this goal, the Initiative developed food safety Good Agricultural Practices standards and audit checklists for pre- and post-harvest operations, applicable to all fresh produce commodities, all sizes of on-farm operations and all regions in the U.S., and has made them available for use by any operation or audit organization at no cost.

For more information on the Harmonized Standards please visit or contact Erin Grether, United Fresh's Government Affairs & Science Policy Coordinator at 202-303-3400 or


United Sees Sustainability in Action in California

Rio Farms' Jocelyn Gretz and United's Ray Gilmer discuss sustainability programs in onion production during a visit to the farm's operations in King City, CA.

Ray Gilmer, United's vice president of issues management & communication, met with members of the Monterey County Sustainability Working Group in Salinas last week to share feedback about the United Foundation's Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment. The Guide, developed by the Foundation's Center for Global Produce Sustainability, was released this summer to help growers better understand, implement and share information about sustainable agriculture practices.

"This is an opportunity for this industry to take a proactive approach and stay ahead of mandates while appealing to the growing segment of environmentally conscious buyers," said Nikki Rodoni, director of sustainability at Rio Farms and a member of the working group.

Gilmer also discussed sustainability programs during meetings at Rio Farms, Pro*Act and Driscoll's, all of which demonstrated leadership in a variety of sustainability initiatives, including reduced use of water and energy, close monitoring of soil amendments,  large-scale composting and more.

"United's Sustainability 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," said Gilmer.

The Guide is available in a PDF document that can be downloaded from the United Fresh website at The guide is free to United Fresh members and for $75 for non-members.


Use the August Recess to Voice Your Support for Immigration Reform

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 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 firm support for immigration reform to the House of Representatives.

For more information the immigration reform issue, and ways to contact members of Congress, please visit


United Welcomes New Costco Store to DC

United's John Toner (left) joins Costco's Frank Padilla at the retailer's store opening event in Alexandria, VA.

United Fresh was on hand this week for Costco's new store opening in Alexandria, VA, the retailer's seventh store in the DC marketplace.  John Toner, VP of Convention & Industry Relations, was able to catch up with Frank Padilla, Vice President, GMM Fresh Foods and Produce, on the latest happenings and Costco's future growth plans. "It's always great to see new store layouts and feel the buzz of new store openings," said Toner. "It's also great to talk with the folks on the front lines who help grow the fresh produce business in front of the consumer every day." 


New Member Welcome
day planner

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

  • H. Smith Packing Corp, Presque Isle, ME
  • IMIG Systems, Clarksdale, AZ
  • Tosca, LTD, Atlanta, GA

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