February 06, 2014
In Today's Issue:
United Applauds Congress Passing Long-Awaited Farm Bill Reauthorization

United Fresh hailed the long-awaited passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) by Congress this week. The measure crossed the final legislative hurdle when the Senate approved the Farm Bill conference report by a vote of 68 - 32. The bill now goes to the president, who is expected to sign the measure into law.

It has been an exceptionally long and complicated path to reauthorizing the Farm Bill to provide agriculture stakeholders the certainty they need about policies governing agriculture production in the U.S. In addition to much-needed clarity, the measure shows a deepening recognition by federal policymakers that the produce industry is essential to the health of Americans and the American economy.

"Everybody seems to agree that in the history of Farm Bill reauthorizations, this has been the most challenging and has taken the longest," said Robert Guenther, United senior vice president of public policy. "But even though the overall bill took many unexpected twists and turns, one thing was consistent: strong, bipartisan support in the House and Senate for fresh fruit and vegetable policies."

The bill's fruit and vegetable provisions include but aren't limited to:

  • $150 million per year for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
  • $80 million per year for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative
  • $85 million per year for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program
  • $75 million per year for pest and disease mitigation
  • $209 million per year to enhance trade opportunities

For a summary of Farm Bill provisions relating to fruits and vegetables, please click here.

United Fresh will continue to make sure that these programs continue to be implemented to maximize opportunities for fresh fruit and vegetable providers. We will continue to keep you informed about policy developments as the 2014 Farm Bill is put into place.


United Fresh Global Reception in Berlin Draws Members From Around the World

The United Fresh stand has been a popular destination at Fruit Logistica in Berlin! United members from all over the world, foreign officials and industry leaders have visited with staff and volunteer leaders to learn about United's programs and services for the global produce community.

The United Fresh Global Reception continued an annual tradition of gathering members and industry friends from around the world on Wednesday evening. Three hundred attendees participated in the event for lively networking and engagement with global produce industry participants, which was generously sponsored by Locus Traxx.

"The reception was great place for our members to meet new friends and catch up with industry colleagues," said John Toner, United vice president of convention & industry relations. "The trade fair also allows us to meet with attendees to discuss the strong opportunities for their businesses at events like United Fresh 2014 in Chicago. It's also a way for members around the world to dialogue about making produce more convenient and more accessible through all channels of global trade."

United Fresh staff will be available to meet with members in Hall 5.2, Stand D-11 through the close of the trade fair on Friday evening. For more information please contact Miriam Wolk, United vice president of membership and marketing, at 202-303-3410.

#IfarmImmigration Campaign Kicks off on Capitol Hill

United Fresh and nearly 70 of their partners in the agriculture industry launched the #ifarmimmigration campaign this week to press policymakers in Washington to take action on long-overdue immigration reform, including a new agriculture workforce program to secure the current and future workforce. The campaign is being coordinated by the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE).

To kick off the effort on Capitol Hill, United Government Relations Council Member Maureen Torrey Marshall along with long-time United Fresh members Brad Johnston of Peri & Sons Farm in Yerington, NV and Fred Leitz of Leitz Farm in Sodus, Michigan participated in a briefing for key congressional staff who focus on immigration. All were in Washington, DC as part of the National Council of Agriculture Employers (NCAE) Annual Washington meeting.  During the panel discussion, Torrey, Johnston, and Leitz provided vivid, detailed examples of the ongoing struggle they face to secure a skilled, dedicated workforce. They also laid out the economic consequences for to their communities when they are unable to obtain necessary workers and crops are left un-harvested. They concluded their remarks by telling the congressional audience that immigration reform is essential, cannot wait any longer and demanded that Congress take action.

“The immigration panel  did an amazing job of sharing with House staff how the current immigration policies are impacting her on a day-to-day basis,” said Robert Guenther, United senior vice president of public policy. “Sharing their stories puts a face to the plight that farmers across the U.S. are facing when it comes to trying to maintain a strong, agricultural workforce.”


United Fresh Participates at Congressional Briefing held on the Third Anniversary of FSMA


Today, Robert Guenther, United senior vice president of public policy participated in a congressional briefing featuring Dr. Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at FDA, along with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3). Other panelists included Sandra Eskin, Pew Charitable Trust; Bob Ehart, NASDA; and Roland McReynolds, Carolina Farm Stewardship. The panel of farm, consumer and state representatives provided their prospective, feedback, expectation related to the enactment of Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA) and celebrated the three-year anniversary of the legislation becoming law.

Rep. Delauro emphasized the need to make sure our citizens and communities are provided with a safe and stable food supply, while Dr. Mike Taylor emphasized the need for a common-sense, risk-based approach to FSMA and the need for proper implementation of the seven rules, now that they all have been published.

Guenther discussed the impacts of FSMA on produce stakeholders across the supply chain. He also cited the need for flexibility in the rules on water testing, for example, and the impact small farm exemptions may have on the broader industry. He thanked FDA for their open dialogue, constant discussion and industry engagement throughout the FSMA process, including the extension of the comment period, which allowed for further analysis of each of the rules as part of the comprehensive food safety package. But also emphasized that it’s difficult to give FSMA a grade until we see the final product and how the full menu of rules will impact the fresh produce industry.

“This was a great opportunity to bring together a unique cross-section of food safety stakeholders to discuss the ongoing implementation of FSMA,” said Guenther. “Congress needs to understand the different perspectives about these proposed rules and what it means for the future of this law and food safety.”


Tomorrow Is the Last Day for Early Registration for United Fresh 2014

The early registration deadline is fast approaching for United Fresh 2014! Tomorrow, February 7, is the last day for early registration discounts.

If you haven't registered yet, now is the time to lock in low prices on all-access ticket packages that will open doors to over 800,000 square feet of exhibits, over 15,000 retail and produce executive attendees, over 900 exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations in fresh produce, value-added processing, and the broader food industry marketplace, over 100 hours of cutting-edge educational sessions and much more!

Planning your trip to Chicago has never been easier. United has compiled a number of tips and activities that will make your trip simple and hassle free. United Fresh 2014 attendees can take advantage of a wide range of hotel options – giving you plenty of options and rates so you can choose the hotel best for you and your team. Book your housing online today – discounts end May 16.

Register Today for This Month's Webinar on FDA's Quantitative Risk Assessment

Don't miss this month's free webinar on FDA's Quantitative Risk Assessment on Friday, February 21 from 2:00– 3:00 p.m. (US/Eastern). The webinar, FDA's Quantitative Risk Assessment – A Pathway to Irrigation Water Standards, is hosted by the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council. Dr. David Gombas will review the process and assumptions that FDA used in the Quantitative Risk Assessment, mentioned in the proposed Produce Safety rule as the basis for direct contact water testing standards. Dr. Gombas will discuss how regions and commodities can use the same process to quantitatively assess their food safety risks from in-field water use, and how to target research efforts to develop their own specific water safety alternatives to FDA's proposed water standards. Dr. Gombas will be joined by Bob Elliott, chairman of the Food Safety & Technology Council and director of food safety at Sunkist Growers.

Registration for the webinar is complimentary for United members and $50 for non-members. To register for webinar, click here.


FDA Requests Comments on a Draft Approach to Identify High-Risks Foods

This week, FDA requested comments and scientific data to help it implement a section of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that requires FDA to "designate high-risk foods for which additional recordkeeping requirements are appropriate and necessary to protect the public health".  Until now, FDA has been careful not to designate any foods as high-risk, focusing instead on production and handling practices, but fresh produce already figures prominently in the Federal Register notice.  United Fresh will organize a working group to review FDA's proposed risk designation approach, and make whatever recommendations to FDA necessary to portray food safety risk in a scientifically valid manner, so as to ensure any additional requirements and the "high risk" designation do not put commodities or regions at an unfair disadvantage or create an unfair consumer perception of food safety risks.

The comment period for this proposal closes April 7. To view the complete draft in the Federal Register, click here. To join the working group, please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.

FDA Releases Proposed Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food

FDA has released the seventh and last proposed FSMA rule, Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, which would require certain shippers, receivers and carriers who transport food to prevent food contamination during transportation. The proposed rule would apply to transportation of all FDA regulated foods, by motor vehicle or rail, intended for consumption in the U.S.
The rule would require shippers to have written food safety instructions and inspection procedures for transporters, including temperature controls where needed for safety or spoilage prevention. The rule would also require transporters to maintain records of their compliance with those instructions, and suppliers and receivers to verify compliance. Training requirements are also proposed. The public comment period for the proposed rule ends on May 31, 2014. FDA has scheduled public meetings to discuss the proposed rule on February 27 in Chicago, March 13 in Anaheim and March 20 in College Park.

To review the proposed rule in the Federal Register, click here.  As it has for the other FDA proposed rules, United Fresh will convene a working group of interested members to review the rule and develop comments to FDA.  To join the working group, please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.


Find Out What Every Auditor Needs to Know about the Post-Harvest Operations Harmonized Standards

Learn what every auditor needs to know about post-harvest operations standards at the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Harmonized Standards Train-the-Trainer Workshop on March 11-12 in Irvine, CA. The workshop will feature the official training materials developed by the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Calibration Committee designed to standardize food safety auditors' expectations of post-harvest packing, holding and cooling operations using the Harmonized Standards.

This workshop will help auditors from different audit organizations learn how the Harmonized Standards are supposed to be used. During this training course, trainers will cover the details on what an auditor should expect to see at an operation, how an auditor should judge that operation based on the evidence they see, and how that judgment can change in different situations.

The course is open to auditors and interested parties at a registration fee of $50. To register today, click here.  Information about the Harmonized Standards, including downloadable versions of both the Field Operations and Harvesting and Post-harvest Operations standards are available online

For more information on the workshop or for registration assistance, please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.


United's Ray Gilmer Presents Crisis Management Tips at New Jersey Agricultural Convention

United's Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management & communication, discussed crisis communication with vegetable growers and other agricultural producers at the New Jersey Agricultural Convention and Trade Show in Atlantic City this week. "The worst time to plan for a crisis is during a crisis, so having a plan in advance is absolutely critical," Gilmer said at the business meeting of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture. "United's Recall Ready program gives companies a turnkey option for minimizing the impact of a recall situation," he said. "And companies can apply the same principles to other potential crises involving labor, chemical spills or any other potential crisis situation."

Gilmer's presentation also included tips for messaging in a crisis situation, with video examples of good and bad interviews from real-world crisis events. "Spokesperson training, which includes guidelines for message development and how to make the best use of interviews, is always an eye-opening experience, but invaluable for dealing with reporters and stakeholders," he said.

For more information about United's Recall Ready program, visit www.unitedfresh.org/recallready. To learn more about United's spokesperson training, contact Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3425.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business:

GAPs and GMPs for HACCP-Based Food Safety Workshop
Feb 18-20, Athens, GA

United Fresh Webinar Series: FDA’s Quantitative Risk Assessment – A Pathway to Irrigation Water Standards
Feb 21

2014 Produce Executive Development Program
Mar 9-14, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Produce GAPs Harmonization Post-Harvest Operations Train the Trainer Workshop
March 11, Taco Bell Headquarters, Irvine, CA

Technical Working Group Meeting
March 13, Taco Bell Headquarters, Irvine, CA

Produce Inspection Training Program
Jun 2-6, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

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

2014 Washington Public Policy Conference
Sep 8-10, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Produce Inspection Training Program
Sep 22-26, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA