September 12, 2013
In Today's Issue:
Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass to Deliver Keynote Address at the Washington Public Policy Conference

Sam Kass hosts a tour of the White House garden for United Fresh Board.

Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let's Move!, Senior Nutrition Policy Advisor, and Assistant Chef at the White House, will highlight the important role fresh produce plays in Let's Move! as keynote speaker at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Public Policy Conference on Wednesday, October 2.  Let's Move!, First Lady Michelle Obama's signature initiative to improve the health of America's children, emphasizes increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Sam Kass collaborated with United Fresh Produce to create Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, which supports the Let's Move! initiative by donating  salad bars to thousands of schools nationwide to increase children's fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. Let's Move! is improving children's health across America and is credited with reducing obesity rates in low-income children, improving school nutrition and children's eating habits.

"I think we're at a tipping point," said Kass in an interview for USA Today in August 2013. "We know if we all come together around our kids' health, we can change our future and change their future."

Kass played a leadership role in federal nutrition policy through the passage and current implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This legislation is dramatically transforming the school food environment by improving the healthfulness of school meals and snacks. Increasing children's consumption of fruits and vegetables is a centerpiece of healthier school meals.

"Sam Kass is a dynamic leader, inspiring the public and private sectors to come together for real change to improve child nutrition, and we are excited to have him as a keynote speaker at the Washington Public Policy Conference," said Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of United Fresh. "United Fresh is honored to be leading Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools and supporting First Lady Michelle Obama and Sam Kass in their work to improve nutrition for America's children."

The Washington Public Policy Conference provides produce industry leaders from across the country the opportunity to network and explore key issues facing their industry, including immigration, nutrition, food safety, and labor. During the conference, participants have numerous opportunities to interact directly with members of Congress and their staff, as well as key officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Click here for more information or to register, or contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow Kicks Off United Fresh's Washington Public Policy Conference

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow kicks off the United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference by delivering the keynote address for the Opening General Session Breakfast on Tuesday, October 1. Senator Stabenow will explore public policy opportunities and challenges facing the produce industry, including passing the Farm Bill and comprehensive immigration reform. In her role as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Stabenow plays a pivotal role in shaping our nation's agricultural policies.

"Chairwoman. Stabenow is a strong supporter of the nation's produce industry and has shown outstanding leadership for advancing the Farm Bill in the Senate, as well as her work on other important legislation," said Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management & communication.  "We look forward to hearing her views about how we can work with her and other lawmakers to ensure that the produce industry gets the support it needs on research, marketing, labor and so many other industry priorities."

Stabenow brings extensive political experience to her role as Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman. She served on the Michigan House of Representatives for 12 years and the State Senate for four years. In 1996, Stabenow was elected to the U.S. Congress representing Michigan's Eighth Congressional District. Stabenow made history when she became the first woman from the State of Michigan elected to the U.S. Senate.

To learn more about the WPPC and to register online, visit the United Fresh website. If you have questions, please contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Monterey Mushrooms Vice President Joe Caldwell Wins $100 for the United Fresh Photo Scavenger Hunt

The winner for the United Fresh Scavenger Hunt is Joe Caldwell, Vice President, Monterey Mushrooms, Inc!  Joe won a $100 gift card. The Scavenger Hunt featured pictures of United Fresh staff members at prominent locations throughout Washington, DC. The Washington Public Policy Conference is coming soon and the scavenger hunt is a way you can familiarize yourself with some of the great places to visit in the city. Check out our Facebook page to find out where the United Fresh staff members were located.

Torrey Farms to Receive 2013 Grower Achievement Award at Washington Public Policy Conference

Torrey Farms of Elba, NY, is the recipient of the 2013 Grower Achievement Award. The 11th and 12th generation of the Torrey family include (left to right) Travis, Lucas, Shannon, Maxwell, John, Maureen, Mark, Jed, (front row L-R) Molly, and Jordyn. 

Torrey Farms will receive the 2013 Grower Achievement Award at United Fresh's Washington Public Policy Conference. The Grower Achievement Award honors grower operations that strive to produce high-quality produce while working for the good of the industry, two areas in which Torrey Farms excels. In the early 1980s, production on Torrey Farms exploded from 700 acres to 7,000 acres. Owners John, Mark and Maureen Torrey attribute their success to hard work and a willingness to experiment. "We aren't afraid to try new varieties, and have always looked for what we can grow that is of good quality and volume that we have the packing facilities to manage," said Maureen.

Maureen has a legacy of advocating for America's produce industry through her role as chairwoman of United Fresh Produce Association in 2006 and advocating for critical public policies on Capitol Hill.  She delivered statements before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture on the 2007 Farm Bill and before Congress on immigration reform. Maureen understands the importance of a stable labor force to Torrey Farms. Last year, the operation lost 92 of 100 employees working in the packing shed from an I-9 audit. "The employees we lost averaged about 18 years of experience. Now we have to build it up from scratch," said Maureen.

The Washington Public Policy Conference provides leaders, such as the Torreys, an opportunity to make their voice heard on Capitol Hill. At the conference, produce industry leaders from across the supply chain meet with Congressional lawmakers and their staff, as well as officials from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss critical policy issues that impact their bottom line.

Learn more about the United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference at If you have questions, please contact United's Angela Tiwari, Political Affairs Manager, at or 202-303-3416.


Still Time to Register for Next Week's Recall Ready Training Workshop in Monterey, CA

The next United Fresh Ready Recall Training Workshop happens next week, September 18-19 in Monterey, California. The two-day, hands-on workshop covers the essential tools you'll need to manage a product recall. You'll learn what's involved in a recall, your rights and responsibilities concerning a recall, and strategies for limiting your liability and managing customer expectations. Instructors will teach you about the role of the FDA and how best to work with them.

The workshop is designed for everyone on your produce recall team, including management, technical staff and marketing/communications staff. This course combines recall protocols and communication management principles to ensure that both your technical food safety staff and communication staff work together effectively and efficiently during a product recall.

Learn more about the Recall Ready Training Workshop in Monterey, California and register online. On November 6-7, another Recall Ready Training Workshop will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Learn more about the workshop in Pennsylvania.
If you have questions about the workshop, contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.


Senator Dianne Feinstein Urges Department of Homeland Security to Focus on Immigration Law Violations Involving Violent Crimes Instead of I-9 Audits

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a senior member of the State Judiciary Committee, is urging the Department of Homeland Security to focus immigration enforcement efforts on violent criminals rather than agricultural employers and their workers. Senator Feinstein sent a letter to Secretary Janet Napolitano September 3 saying she is receiving troubling reports from farmers in California that say U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is increasingly using I-9 worksite audits against agricultural employers. In her letter, Senator Feinstein explained that "many farmers and growers in California informed me that their business and livelihood are at risk due to a shortage of legal harvesters, pickers, pruners, packers, and farm workers." She went on to say, "I am very concerned that these audits will result in significant harm to the agricultural industry and the state's overall economy."

Senator Feinstein said it was important that Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform laws. "Without action on this important issue, I am concerned that the production of American-grown fruits, vegetables, and dairy will continue to downsize or move overseas, which puts the economic and health of the Nation at risk," said Feinstein

Learn more about United Fresh's efforts toward establishing a stable agricultural workforce through immigration reform and how you can be part of the effort.


Former White House Chef Walter Scheib Brings Unique Perspective on First Families to United FreshPAC Dinner & Reception at WPPC

The United FreshPAC Dinner and Reception at the Washington Public Policy Conference will feature former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib. Chef Scheib will host and prepare the dinner, sharing stories from his time working for the two First Families in the White House. He will share his more than 11 years at the White House working for the Clinton and Bush families.

"One of the unique things we're going to see at the United FreshPAC event is getting to know these distinctly different Clinton and Bush First Families. I mean, as the White House chef, you really get to know them as nuanced and interesting individuals who are very, very human and very amusing in many cases," said Scheib.

The United FreshPAC Dinner and Reception 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 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. To learn more about the dinner and reception, contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Meets to Discuss Strategies to Encourage Congress to Pass a Farm Bill

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance held a meeting earlier this week at United's Washington, DC office. With Congress coming back after its August recess, the meeting was critical for alliance members to discuss strategies to encourage lawmakers to pass a Farm Bill before the current bill expires on September 30. 

The Senate passed a comprehensive Farm Bill earlier this summer. The House of Representatives has chosen to separate the two traditionally-joined production agriculture policy and nutrition policy portions of the legislation and passed a production agriculture-only version of the Farm Bill. It is now expected that House lawmakers will consider a nutrition policy package developed by Republicans within the coming weeks. While it is unclear how the new nutrition legislation will fare in the full House or how the two houses of Congress will reconcile their versions of the Farm Bill, the leadership of both houses of Congress have expressed a commitment to passing a new Farm Bill. 

"United Fresh and our partners in the Alliance are going to do everything we can to get legislation reauthorizing agriculture and nutrition policies across the finish line," said Robert Guenther, United Fresh's Senior VP for Public Policy. "We appreciate the challenges lawmakers face right now, but fruit and vegetable providers, who just want certainty about the policies affecting their ability to stay in business and meet consumer needs, have waited long enough. Pushing for passage of the Farm Bill is going to be one of primary issues at our upcoming Washington Public Policy Conference and we'll keep pushing until Congress does its job."

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy.


Upcoming Auditor Workshop in Florida Provides Key Information on Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative

United Fresh, in conjunction with the Florida Tomato Exchange, the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association and Quality Certification Services, will offer a two-day workshop for auditors on how to use the Post-harvest Operations Harmonized Standards on October 30-31 in Maitland, Florida. This is the first workshop offered on the Post-harvest Operations standards using the official training materials developed by the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Calibration Committee, and is open to all interested parties.  Instructors will review real world scenarios and how auditors should judge the situations.  Workshop instructors will include United's Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president food safety and technology, as well as members of the Calibration Committee. According to Gombas, "the overall objective of the Harmonized Standards is to dial back the audit creep that has occurred over the years, and establish a single set of food safety expectations for Good Agricultural Practice audits that any audit organization can use to assess a grower/shipper's food safety program and will be acceptable to all buyers.  This scenario-driven training is intended to further reduce the gray zone between judgments of compliance and non-compliance into a tight line."

To learn more about the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative, visit the United Fresh website. Please stay tuned next week for more information about the October workshop in Florida.


USDA Announces Plans to Purchase Frozen Blueberries

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced a purchase program for blueberry products. AMS sent out a pre-solicitation notice that it plans to purchase frozen blueberries for surplus removal. The first solicitation will be issued in the near future for deliveries from November 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014. Offers to sell blueberries must be received by the date listed on the solicitation, and can be submitted through the Web-Based Supply Chain Management website.

To learn more about the USDA purchase program for blueberry products, visit the AMS Commodity Purchasing website. You can also sign up for email notifications about solicitations for specific commodities by subscribing to the AMS News listserv.  


Growers Can Save Money and Protect the Environment by Using These Sustainability Strategies

Did you know that growers can save money and protect the environment by following a few simple strategies when applying fertilizer? The key is to provide nutrition for optimal crop growth while avoiding excess nutrients which may be lost to the environment. Try soil sampling using a grid or zone sampling method to identify variations in nutrient levels across different parts of your field. Another strategy is to practice precision fertilization through fertigation, which involves applying fertilizers through an irrigation system.

The United Fresh's Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment for Fruit and Vegetable Production offers these and other strategies for production practices that are eco-friendly and economically sustainable. The guide covers four key areas of sustainability: stewardship of resources, environmental impacts, social accountability, and economic success and viability. The sustainability guide is free for United Fresh members.

Learn more about the United Fresh's Sustainability Guide and Self-Assessment for Fruit and Vegetable Production and order a copy today online.


New Member Welcome

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

  • RJO Produce Marketing, Fresno, 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:

Produce Inspection Training Program
Sept 16-20, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

The NEPC & EPC Produce Alliance Event
Sept 17-18, Marriott Mystic Hotel & Spa, Groton, CT

Recall Ready Training Workshop
Sept 18-19, Embassy Suites Monterey Bay, Monterey, CA

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

2013 Fall Leadership Alumni Dinner (Invitation Only Event)
Oct 1, Clyde's of Gallery Place, Washington, DC

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

United Fresh 2014
June 10-13, McCormick Place, Chicago, IL