August 29, 2013
In Today's Issue:
Food Safety, Immigration Are Top Issues for Pennsylvania Produce Industry

An engaged group met at the Philadelphia town Hall Luncheon at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market.

United's Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology, and Miriam Wolk, vice president of membership and marketing, kicked off the Pennsylvania-New Jersey Fresh Impact Tour with town halls and visits to Central Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. United Chairman-Elect Ron Carkoski, President and CEO, Four Seasons Family of Companies, along with the Four Seasons Produce, Earth Source Trading and Sunrise Logistics team, hosted a breakfast for 60 members of the local industry.  Chief among attendees' concerns were the status of FSMA proposed rules and the communication flow between FDA, the industry and consumers during recent recall events.  Attendees also voiced their concerns about the current state of immigration legislation. David, Miriam and United's volunteer leaders shared the importance of making sure members contact their representatives to stress the importance of immigration reform for agriculture.

Following the breakfast, David and Miriam visited two mushroom operations in Kennett Square and then joined Laura Phelps, President of American Mushroom Institute, at AMI's Avondale office for a reception with local mushroom industry leaders. "Spending time on the road meeting with members at their operations has been invaluable," said David.  "Hearing directly from our members on how FSMA's proposed rules will impact their companies will help us ensure we provide robust comments to FDA that reflect the diversity of the fresh produce industry."

The tour continued with a town hall luncheon hosted by the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, where members again focused on the key issues of food safety and immigration, as well as efforts to improve infrastructure for produce inspections and imports at borders and ports. David and Miriam also met with member importers and distributors in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

After visiting a number of member Grower-Shippers in Vineland, United will join New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher for a reception for the South Jersey produce industry.  The tour will wrap up at the end of the week with a town hall luncheon at RLB/Freshpro in Northern NJ. Follow the Fresh Impact Tour on the United Fresh Facebook page.

United's Fresh Impact Tour Visits Colorado

United's Ray Gilmer discusses FDA's proposed food safety regulations during the Rocky Ford town hall held at L&M Companies' operations.

John Oxford speaking at Rocky Ford.

Colorado members about new proposed food safety regulations, workforce challenges, traceability, transportation and water shortages during the week-long Fresh Impact Tour. The week has included town hall events hosted by FreshPoint Denver (Monday) and L&M in Rocky Ford (Wednesday), which included tours of L&M Companies' onion and melon operations.

"We're proud to be part of the Rocky Ford community and the produce industry here, so the United town hall is a great opportunity to meet with local growers, suppliers and government officials, plus hear about the important work that United Fresh is doing on behalf of the entire industry," said John Oxford, president & CEO, L&M Companies.

United Vice President of Supply Chain Management Dan Vaché spoke to town hall attendees about the industry's participation in the Produce Traceability Initiative and the needs for controlling transportation costs. "The companies we visited are all doing a good job with traceability and, even though they may be at different levels of PTI compliance, it's clear they're making a commitment that results in enhanced traceability," said Vaché.

Ray Gilmer, United's vice president of issues management & communication, spoke with United members and other industry representatives about the importance of making their voices heard in Washington concerning the need for immigration reform and passage of the Farm Bill, which provides support for critical research, marketing, nutrition programs and more.

Today and Friday, the Fresh Impact Tour visits with the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee and nearby member operations. United Fresh extends its thanks to United members and others from the Colorado produce industry for their hospitality.

Learn more about the Fresh Impact Tour and see pictures from the tour on the United Fresh Facebook page.


United Fresh Participates in Agricultural Workforce Discussion

United Fresh members Mike Antle and Brian Antle, Tanimura & Antle, meet with Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) to discuss the current agricultural labor issues.

United's Jeff Oberman, vice president of trade relations, joined with United Fresh members Steve Scaroni, Scraroni Family of Companies, and Mike Antle and Brian Antle, Tanimura & Antle for a candid discussion on the current state of H-2A labor and agricultural workforce challenges with representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor and local Congressman, Sam Farr (D-CA). The roundtable organized by United Fresh member Steve Scaroni, Scaroni Family of Companies.

"This session provided an overview of key issues that United Fresh members face including recruitment of labor, wage and hour compensation, as well as transportation issues that impact operations," said Oberman. "United Fresh will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that will be highlighted during the upcoming Washington Public Policy Conference; however, we will also keep a close watch on the current state of H-2A labor policy and how to best serve members in the current state of the agricultural workforce regulations." 

For more information about the H-2A guest worker program, contact Jeff Oberman.

Idaho Potato Industry Veteran Roger Jones Passes Away

We are very sad to share that Roger Jones, chairman of the United Board in 1993-94, passed away last week. Roger was the CEO of Rolland Jones Potatoes in Idaho, a family business started by his father. They were fresh-pack shippers, and also built two dehydrated potato plants to produce flakes for use in snack chips such as the original Pringles.  In recent years, he sold all of his potato businesses and spent his time growing the Carmela winery in Glenns Ferry, ID.

"I had the privilege of joining United 20 years ago during the year that Roger was our chairman," said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel.  "He was my first boss, and I had the good fortune to travel extensively that year and learn the produce industry with Roger and his wife Nancy.  They had friends in every sector of the industry, and helped introduce me this wonderful community that I came to love.  I will always remember the great ambassador Roger was for Idaho and our whole industry."  Tom participated in a celebration of Roger's life at Glenns Ferry, ID on Monday, and is a speaker at this week's Idaho Grower Shippers Association annual convention, the first produce convention he attended after joining United in August 1993.


California and Georgia Health Foundations Support Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools

The United Fresh Foundation has been awarded grants from two prominent health foundations, Kaiser Permanente-Northern California and the Georgia Health Foundation to support Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools.  The $78,750 grant from Kaiser will fund salad bars for 30 schools in northern California.  The Georgia Health Foundation grant of $15,750 will support salad bars for six Georgia schools.  "These foundations recognize the benefits of school salad bars as a strategy to improve child nutrition, reduce obesity and create healthy school food environments," said Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health.

Produce industry leaders with connections to regional and local health foundations are encouraged to promote Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools and contact United's Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407 about potential grant opportunities. Hundreds of schools across the country would like salad bars, and United Fresh welcomes the opportunity to partner with health foundations to support schools and improve child nutrition.

Additionally, the United Fresh Foundation thanks the following companies for their recent support of salad bars for 10 California schools:  IFCO Systems, N.A., Progressive Produce, The Oppenheimer Group, WJL Distributors Grant J. Hunt Company, and CMC Sales and Marketing.  To date, more than 650 California schools have received salad bars through individual, corporate and foundation donations.

For information about the schools in your area that need salad bars and how you can support Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.


USDA Updates Instructions for Commodity Purchase Solicitations

This month the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) updated the instructions to submit an offer on RFP solicitations through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management system, an online ordering and procurement system. AMS Commodity Procurement purchases a variety of food products in support of the National School Lunch Program and other food assistance programs, including fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. AMS publically posts solicitations for vendors to sell to the USDA. View the new instructions for "Submitting an offer on RFP solicitations."

Current and potential vendors can participate in online refresher trainings on submitting offers through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management system. Training sessions will be offered September 4 and October 16. View the full schedule of training sessions. To learn more about AMS Commodity Purchase programs for fruit and vegetables visit the AMS Commodity Purchasing website.


Register Today for the Washington Public Policy Conference!

United Fresh's 2013 Washington Public Policy Conference provides an incredible opportunity to network with leading produce industry leaders from across the country and explore the dynamic city of Washington, D.C. The conference will focus on key industry issues that impact your business, including immigration, nutrition, food safety, and labor. There are numerous opportunities to interact directly with members of Congress and their staff, as well as key officials from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The conference will provide interactive education sessions on labor and immigration policy, food safety and recall management, and child nutrition policy and new markets.

Register now for the Washington Public Policy Conference.


Don't Miss United's FSMA Webinar September 4 with FDA Senior Policy Advisors

Don't miss the chance to ask FDA officials about FSMA during United's webinar on Wednesday, September 4. The webinar is free and will offer a briefing and Q&A session with FDA senior policy advisors, Charlotte Christin and Brian Pendleton, on the proposed rules for Foreign Supplier Verification Programs and the Accreditation of Third Party Auditors/Certification Bodies.

United's Dr. David Gombas, Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology said, "The Foreign Supplier and Accredited Third-Party rules will have a major impact on many in the produce industry." Dr. Gombas said the webinar will provide important information for companies that handle imported produce, work with a foreign supplier, or are a foreign supplier.

Register today for the next FSMA webinar!

This webinar is part of United's annual public policy webinar series. For more information contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.


Get Involved Today with Our FSMA Working Groups!

Dr. David Gombas and United's working groups go line by line through proposed FSMA rules.

Our science, regulatory, legislative and policy staff have begun work with outside legal counsel on draft comments from our previous FSMA working groups on the proposed rules for both Produce and Preventive Controls for Food Facilities. Now, we are asking for volunteers who would like to serve on our working groups for two additional proposed rules, Foreign Supplier Verification and Accredited Third-Party Certification.

The week of September 9 the working groups will meet.  If you are a United Fresh member and represent one of the affected operations mentioned above, we recommend you consider participating on one or both working groups. The working groups will participate through a series of online web-conferences, and potentially via in-person meetings, to go line-by-line through these newly published proposed rules, carefully providing thoughtful interpretations, comments and feedback. Based on all of the input we receive from these working groups, we will begin to draft our framework for our comments back to FDA. Members who would like to volunteer for the working groups, please contact Erin Grether at or 202-303-3402.


New Member Welcome

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

  • Porpiglia Farms, Marlboro, NY
  • Tops Markets, Buffalo, NY
  • Crist Bros. Orchards, Inc., Walden, NY

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:

South Jersey Produce Industry Reception
Aug 29, Merighi's Savoy Inn, East Vineland, NJ

North Jersey Town Hall Luncheon
Aug 30, RLB Food Distributors/FreshPro, West Caldwell, NJ

Monte Vista Produce Industry Town Hall Meeting
Aug 30, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Monte Vista, CO

FDA FSMA Webinar: Proposed Rules on Foreign Supplier Verification Programs and the Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies
Sept 4, Webinar

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

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

Recall Ready Training Workshop
Nov 6-7, Hilton Hotel, Philadelphia, PA