August 15, 2013
In Today's Issue:
Summer Fresh Impact Tour Rolls into California

United’s Tom Stenzel, CEO and president, and Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations, continued this year’s Fresh Impact Tour in California last week with town hall luncheons in Visalia and Salinas. The Visalia luncheon was co-hosted by United Fresh Government Relations Council member Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape & Treefruit League, and Shirley Batchman, director of industry relations for California Citrus Mutual. Attendees included a large number of citrus, grape and treefruit growers, as well as members from the wholesaler-distributor, marketing and transportation sectors. They enjoyed a spirited public policy discussion on immigration reform and the Farm Bill, and United Fresh member programs and events.

The Salinas luncheon featured Tom Stenzel and United Fresh Chairman Ron Midyett from Apio, Inc. Participants tackled food safety and immigrant reform policy issues and engaged in a dynamic discussion in the town hall setting. Many thanks to United Fresh Government Relations Council Member Jim Bogart, president of the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, who hosted the Salinas luncheon.

This was the second town hall tour in California this year. Oberman believes the large attendance contributed to the energetic discussion of industry priorities. “This is a great forum to exchange views on critical issues and gain input from members who represent various commodities yet face similar challenges in food safety and immigration reform,” said Oberman.  

See updates, pictures and post your comments about the Fresh Impact Tour on Facebook.
For more information on this tour, please contact Jeff Oberman


FDA Announces FSMA Public Meeting for Proposed Rules on Foreign Supplier Verification and Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors

FDA today announced the first public meeting to discuss the two recently proposed rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Foreign Supplier Verification and Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors. FDA will brief attendees about the draft rules and the rulemaking process. FDA will also solicit oral stakeholder and public comments on the proposed rules and respond to questions.

The FDA meeting will be held September 19 (8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) and September 20 (8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington, DC.  Details about the meeting and how to register can be found at the FDA website.

This is the first in a series of three public meetings FDA plans to hold on these FSMA proposed rules. FDA says information on the additional two meetings, including dates, locations and registration information will be released shortly.

United Fresh has organized working groups, comprised of experts from member organizations, to review the draft rules and develop comments for FDA.

“The proposed rules on foreign supplier verification and accreditation of third-party auditors can have far-reaching impacts on produce industry operations,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president, public policy. “United will provide testimony at the FDA meeting to represent our members’ concerns.”

More information about FSMA and the proposed rules can be found on United’s website at www.unitedfresh.org/fsma.  Please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400 with questions about the FDA meeting.

 

United Fresh Webinar Provides Key Food Safety Information on FSMA

United Fresh offered a free webinar this week that explored the potential impacts businesses may face from the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Dr. David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president of food safety and technology, provided an overview of four FDA proposed rules. These included produce safety, preventive controls for human food, foreign supplier verification, and accredited third party certification. He noted that FDA has yet to publish proposed rules on preventive controls for animal feed and on sanitary transportation, which will also affect the produce industry.

Dr. Gombas discussed the findings from a series of meetings conducted among United Fresh leaders to examine every line of the proposed Produce Safety rule. One of the key findings was that water is the biggest issue facing growers, particularly water standards for E. coli in direct contact water used in pre-harvest. A strategy proposed in the rule is to ensure water quality by conducting water tests throughout the growing season, as frequently as every 7 days. The leadership discussed how this could be problematic, saying that some water sources, including rivers and canals, are outside the grower’s control. Frequent testing could become expensive for growers, and of questionable value since scientists agree that E. coli is a poor indicator of water safety. The leadership team also noted that, while the proposed rule allows for some alternatives to the requirements, it does not allow for alternatives to testing for E. coli or the frequency of testing.

Also discussed on the webinar were the specific blanket exclusions to the proposed rules. Wholesale exclusions based on operation size or how consumers are expected to handle fresh produce should not be written into the regulation, where changes will be difficult to make in the future. For those not excluded, it’s a “one size fits all” approach. While the leadership agreed with FDA’s strategy not to rank commodities by risk, there is no allowance for future science to demonstrate why some commodities have never been linked to foodborne illness, and should not be restricted to the same requirements as more vulnerable commodities.

Dr. Gombas mentioned that the comment period for all four proposed rules has been extended to November. The FDA Forum will be held during United's upcoming Washington Public Policy Conference on October 2. The FDA Forum will provide a valuable opportunity for United Fresh members to have a conversation with FDA officials about the proposed rules before the comment period closes.  United Fresh has also asked that updates and findings be provided at the FDA Forum on other regulatory activities, such as outbreak investigations, this summer’s targeted inspection of cantaloupe handling operations, and changes to how produce imports will be handled.  

Click here to watch the recorded webinar.

Contact Erin Grether to learn more about upcoming webinars.



Now Is the Time for Immigration Reform Grassroots Outreach

Immigration reform is critical to establishing a stable and legal workforce for the produce industry. The House of Representatives have yet to pass an immigration reform measure. It is important that we educate House of Representative members about agriculture’s crucial labor needs. During the August congressional recess, now is the time for United Fresh members to let members of the House of Representatives know that we need a viable guest worker program.

There are two ways to take action.

  1. Send Congress an email from the Grassroots Action Network
  2. Encourage your colleagues to send an email from the Grassroots Action Network

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

 

Send in Your Nominations for United Fresh Advocate of the Year

The United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year award recognizes the United Fresh member company or association who has been a leading champion and advocate for the produce industry. It’s not too late to submit a nomination for the award. Submit a nomination online for the 2013 Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award.

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

This year’s winner will be recognized at the 2013 Washington Public Policy Conference. At the conference you will also be able to hear from previous winners at the Lessons from the Advocates panel on September 30.

The deadline for nominations is August 22. Be sure to nominate an outstanding produce industry advocate.

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

 

Limited Space Available for the Recall Ready Training Workshops in Monterey and Philadelphia

Limited space is available for the two-day Recall Ready Training Workshop in Monterey, California on September 18-19 and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 6-7. The workshop covers the essentials that any operation will need to manage a recall. You will learn about the fundamentals of a recall, understand your rights and responsibilities, and know the role of the FDA and how best to work with the FDA through the process. The workshop will offer strategies for limiting your liability and managing customer expectations. You will also learn how to develop a communications plan and effectively communicate to the industry, your customers, consumers and news media.

Register for the workshop in: Monterey, California on September 18-19.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 6-7

Learn more about the United Fresh Recall Ready Program by visiting http://www.unitedfresh.org/recallready. For more information, contact Erin Grether.

 

Watch the Recall Ready Webinar on Risk Management Online

With increased regulation, inspections, and media attention, understanding recalls is essential for produce operations. The United webinar, “Managing Risk for Contamination and Recall Events,” provides options for produce operation on how best to safeguard against catastrophic losses during a crisis.

Expert speakers include United Fresh’s Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology; Jonathan Cohen, partner, Gilbert LLP; and Michael Lieberman, Capital Risk Concepts. They discussed the range of insurance policies and endorsement options for government recalls and third-party indemnity.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

For more information, please visit http://www.unitedfresh.org/recallready or contact Erin Grether, government relations coordinator, at 202-303-3402.

 

CDC Report Attributes Reduction in Low-Income Preschool Obesity Rates to More Fruits and Vegetables Provided through WIC

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report attributed declines in the obesity rate for low-income preschoolers to more fresh fruits and vegetables being provided through the federal Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program. For several years, United Fresh led advocacy for fruit and vegetable purchases through WIC, and in 2009 WIC was significantly changed to provide cash-value fresh fruit and vegetable vouchers to millions of participants. In addition, the WIC program began nutrition education with participants to reinforce the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables.

The CDC report also found that Let’s Move! and other state and regional anti-obesity initiatives contributed to the decline in obesity rates among preschoolers. Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC director, explained that the decline in the obesity rates among our nation’s youngest children could lead to fewer overweight adults. Frieden explained that children who are overweight during the preschool years are five times more likely to become overweight or obese adults.

“We are thrilled that policy changes to the WIC program to include vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables have had such an immediate impact on the health our nation’s youngest children,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition & heath. DiSogra has worked more than a decade advocating for changes to the WIC program, collaborating with the National WIC Association and researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The CDC report examined data from 11.6 million low-income preschoolers between 2008 and 2011. Many of the children participated in the WIC program. The report found the greatest declines in the obesity rate among preschoolers were in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, South Dakota, and the U.S. Virginia Islands.

For more information, see CDC Vital Signs Report or contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra.

 

United FreshPAC Dinner & Reception Offers Extraordinary View of Washington, D.C.

The United Fresh PAC Dinner and Reception will be held in one of the newest vantage points in the city, the Newseum. This venue offers a spectacular view of the U.S. Capitol and downtown Washington, D.C. The incredible view will be complimented by a private reception and dinner prepared by former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib. Each course will be based on favorite dishes of First Families over the years. Chef Scheib will offer his perspectives on two First Families, international personalities, political power, and the White House.

The event offers a relaxed, entertaining atmosphere that creates a perfect venue to network with other leaders in the produce industry from across the U.S. The PAC Dinner and Reception will take place during the 2013 Washington Public Policy Conference on September 30.

Register online for the United FreshPAC Dinner and Reception.

Learn more about the PAC Dinner and Reception by contacting Angela Bezon Tiwari.

 

Free USDA Webinar Provides Interactive Discussion on the PACA Complaint Process

The USDA is offering a free webinar exploring the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) on Thursday, August 22..This USDA webinar offers critical information for individuals who buy and sell bulk fruits and vegetables. John Koller from the Agricultural Marketing Service PACA Division will provide a brief overview of the Act, federal inspections, acceptance and rejection of produce, and avenues to resolve business conflict. The webinar is meant to be an interactive discussion. Koller’s presentation will be short, with the majority of the time left for an active questions and answer session.

“United Fresh strongly supports fair trading practices for the produce industry and has been instrumental in working to preserve the trust provisions in the law. We urge members to fully understand the PACA to ensure they know their rights in all transactions,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management & communication.

The USDA webinar will be held on Thursday, August 22 from 2 – 3 p.m. The webinar is free but registration is required. Register online for the webinar.

For more information, contact Christopher Purdy at 202-720-3209 or by email.

 

Upcoming United Fresh Events

day plannerJoin us for events designed to grow your business:

Denver Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon
Aug 26, FreshPoint Denver, Denver, CO

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


 



 
 
 


 

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