July 31, 2014
In Today's Issue:
FDA Speakers Panel Confirmed for The Washington Conference

A highlight of this year's Washington Conference is the FDA Forum, Wednesday, September 10, 9:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m., where conference attendees will have the unique opportunity to meet with FDA officials and ask questions on how the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other regulatory issues that are impacting their produce operations.

Confirmed speakers for the FDA forum panel include:

  • Rebecca Buckner, FSMA Chief Implementation Manager – responsible for managing the implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Her presentation includes an update on Foreign Supplier Verification.
  • Samir Assar, Ph.D. Produce Safety Staff Director – Produce Rule Update
  • Michael Kashtock, Ph.D. –  Consumer Safety Officer and Food Scientist – Sanitary Transportation Rule
  • Amy Barringer, Supervisory, Consumer Safety – Produce Sampling Assignments

"This is a valuable opportunity to speak directly with the top-level FDA staff who are shaping the FSMA regulations," said Ray Gilmer, vice president, issues management & communication. "There's no better venue to make your voice heard about FSMA than at this FDA Forum."

The FDA Forum and United's other personalized educational sessions focus on the top issues and opportunities for the fresh produce industry. Engage with speakers, programs and policymakers that specifically address your top business needs. Visit the Conference website at www.unitedfresh.org/TWC to learn more and register today.


United Fresh Submits Comments on FDA's Proposed Rule on Sanitary Transportation

United Fresh this week submitted comments to FDA on its proposed regulation: Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food (Sanitary Transportation Rule).  In its comments, United agreed with FDA's position that "sanitary transportation practices that would be required by this proposed rule are not necessary to prevent RACs (raw agricultural commodities) from becoming adulterated during transportation by farms, and are proposing to exclude such foods from the scope of these requirements."

Further, United said it agreed with FDA's redefinition of farm to include "facilities that pack or hold food, regardless of whether all food used in such activities is grown, raised, or consumed on that farm."

"As with the other rules that FDA has proposed in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act, one size does not fit all," said Dr. David Gombas, senior vice president, food safety & technology. "The Sanitary Transportation rule must be flexible to the different levels of risk and conditions of transport required for each of the hundreds of commodities we call 'fresh produce'.  We urge FDA to consider closely how this rule will affect fresh produce operations and the carriers they employ."

United's comments to FDA covered several aspects of transportation/handling of fresh produce, including intra-company (field to packing) transport, temperature control, temperature recording devices and more. Read United's full comments to FDA here. More information about the FSMA proposed rules and United's comments can be found at http://www.unitedfresh.org/fsma.

For more information, please contact Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400.

Lock In Your Hotel for The Washington Conference by August 5

The Washington Conference is rapidly approaching and hotel rooms at our headquarters hotel are filling up fast! Don't miss this opportunity to access United's preferred housing rates at the Hyatt Regency Washington Capitol Hill – reserve your room today!

The Washington Conference is the only annual event where the produce industry's most prominent and influential executives gather for strategic, face-to-face dialogue with key members of Congress, their staff and top regulatory officials. You know what challenges are facing your business, and at this year's conference, you'll have the chance to learn more about each topic with targeted education and advice from top policy experts.


House Agriculture Committee Takes on Department of Labor on "Hot Goods" Issue

On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, chaired by Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) and Ranking Member Kurt Schrader (D-OR), invited the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to testify and discuss current practices where the DOL is allowed to stop the sale of goods when there is suspected Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations around wage rates.  In particular, many members of the subcommittee expressed concerns to the DOL that it is unfairly targeting specialty crop producers by using the "Hot Goods" provision in a  way that overlooks the potential destruction of the commodity and economic consequences on farmers.   The FLSA prohibits the shipment or sale in interstate commerce of any goods produced in violation of the minimum wage, overtime pay, child labor, or special minimum wage provisions.  Legislation was included in the 2014 Farm Bill that requires the DOL to consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before taking action.

In addition, legislation (H.R. 1387) has been introduced by Chairman Scott and Ranking Member Schrader that would prevent the DOL from using the "Hot Goods" provision for perishable agricultural commodities.  "The aggressive and arbitrary practices by the Department of Labor in using this hot goods provision against growers is very disturbing, given that federal courts have found that their actions violate due process procedures," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president, public policy.  "We strongly support H.R. 1387 and would hope this hearing would shed more light on the need for Congress to act on this legislation in a timely manner," he stated. 

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.


United Fresh Testifies on Small Business Administration Standards for Agriculture Businesses

Last week, Robert Guenther, United's senior vice president for public policy, testified before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade regarding the current small business size standard for agricultural businesses.  The Small Business Act authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to establish small business size standards that are normally either employee or revenue-based.  Unlike the size standards for all other industries by SBA, the size standard for agriculture enterprises has been established by Congress.

The last time Congress addressed this issue was in 2000 when they set the size standard to $750,000 in annual receipts.  In his testimony, Guenther argued that this size standard is out of date and does not accurately reflect today's current family owned small business operation in the fresh produce industry.  He also stated that Congress should cede this responsibility and allow for SBA to evaluate and establish a standard for small agriculture businesses.

"We suggest that it would be very helpful if there was stronger harmonization of the standards used by SBA and the Department of Agriculture. For example, USDA uses acreage as a determining factor in how an operation is categorized," said Guenther in his testimony. "We believe that is a more accurate indicator of whether a business can be considered small and should be incorporated in any determination of what category an agriculture operation should be included."

Read United's entire testimony here.

For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.


USDA Names New Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee

The USDA's has reinstated the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and has named several United Fresh members to one or two-year terms. The 25-member committee will meet up to two times per year to provided counsel to the secretary of agriculture on issues affecting the fruit and vegetable industry. The committee last met in March 2011.

The following members will serve two-year terms on USDA's Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee from 2014-2016:

  • Virginia Barnes, Barnes Farm, Hastings, Fla.;
  • Richard Ha Jr., Hamakua Springs Country Farms, Hilo, Hawaii;
  • Ricke Kress, Southern Gardens Citrus, Clewiston, Fla.;
  • Paul Newman, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers/ Columbia Valley Fruit, Wenatchee and Union Gap,Wash.;
  • Robert Nolan, Deer Run Farms, Brookhaven, N.Y.;
  • Christopher Puentes, Interfresh, Inc., Orange, Calif.;
  • Jennifer "Jin Ju" Wilder, Valley Fruit and Produce Co., Los Angeles, Calif.;
  • Vaughn Koligian, Sun-Maid Growers of California, Kingsburg, Calif.;
  • Diane Smith, Michigan Apple Committee, Lansing, Mich.;
  • Beth Knorr, Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, Peninsula, Ohio; and
  • Brent Roggie, National Grape Cooperative Association, Westfield, N.Y. and Concord, Mass.

The following members will serve three-year terms on the committee from 2014 - 2017:

  • Ben Burkett, B&B Farms, Petal, Miss.;
  • Helen Dietrich, Ridgeview Orchards, Conklin, Mich.;
  • Kristine Ellor, Phillips Mushroom Farms, Kennett Square, Pa.;
  • Richard Hanas, A. Duda and Sons Inc., Oviedo, Fla.;
  • James Alan Johnson, Carzalia Valley Produce, Columbus, N.M.;
  • Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Company, Salinas, Calif.;
  • Jorge Vazquez, Latin Specialties, Houston, Texas;
  • Andy Shoemaker, Taylor Fresh Foods, Salinas, Calif.;
  • David Yanda, Lakeside Foods, Manitowoc, Wis.;
  • Tiffany Boaldin, Golden Eagle Casino-Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, Horton, Kan.;
  • Thomas N. Williams, Spartan Nash, Edina, Minn.;
  • Catherine Burns, Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.;
  • Carlos Castaneda, Castaneda and Sons, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; and
  • Roland McReynolds, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Pittsboro, N.C.;
United congratulates the new members of the committee as they fulfill this important role of advising the secretary on produce industry priorities.


USDA Releases Report on Phytosanitary Regulations on Fruits and Vegetables

The USDA Economic Research Service has released a new report that looks at how measures to address phytosanitary problems can affect fruit and vegetable imports. The report attempts to evaluate the argument that nontariff measures to address phytosanitary concern substantially inhibit trade in some or most cases by adding significant, unnecessary costs.

You can read the report here. For more information, please contact Robert Guenther at 202-303-3400.


Register Today - Deadline to Sign-Up for United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament Is August 29

Don't miss the inaugural United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament, taking place Monday September 29, 2014 at the Oasis Golf Club in Loveland, OH. 

The deadline to register is Friday, August 29. Registration is $350 per person or $1,400 per foursomeTournament fees includes lunch, 18 holes with cart, awards reception and contest holes including closest-to-the-pin and longest drive.

Participation in this fundraising event supports the United Fresh Foundation's programs to increase children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables, a critical step in combating childhood obesity and launching a lifetime of healthy choices!  The tournament will provide an opportunity to network with retail and industry colleagues while supporting a great cause that benefits the next generation of produce consumers.

To register or for more information, visit the United Fresh website or contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.


Shifting into High Gear - Join Tour de Fresh Cyclists in Supporting Salad Bars for Schools

Jeff Oberman, United Fresh vice president, trade relations, is riding in the Tour de Fresh, raising funds to support Midwest Salad Bars. Through his efforts, he raised funds to donate a salad bar for the Hillside Elementary School in Farmington Hills, MI. Click here to help Jeff and 39 other riders meet and exceed their salad bar goals!

With just 75 days until the Tour de Fresh, cyclists are pushing forward with the goal to raise funds to place salad bars in 40 schools.  Several riders have already reached their fundraising goals, but there's still an opportunity to get involved.  Riders continue to 'crank their pedals', reaching out to friends and industry colleagues, all in the name of better child nutrition and assisting schools with serving more fresh fruits and vegetables.  View the Tour de Fresh rider page today, and help these child nutrition heroes support salad bars for schools.

In June at United Fresh 2014 in Chicago, United Fresh announced the donation of salad bars for 200 Midwest schools.  According to Andrew Marshall, United Fresh policy and grassroots manager and program manager for Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools, "The Tour de Fresh continues this momentum into the next school year.  We are excited about this unique industry event that's creating tremendous buzz about child nutrition, salad bars and the importance of supporting schools in their efforts to get kids excited about selecting fresh fruits and veggies every day." 

The Tour is a 4-day cycling ride along the California coast that will benefit the United Fresh Foundation's, Let's Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools campaign. The race will occur October 13-16, 2014.   Eat fresh and ride on!

For more information about the Tour de Fresh, visit www.tourdefresh.com or contact Andrew Marshall, (202) 303-3400.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business:

The Washington Conference Webinar Series: Capitol Hill 101 - Washington Conference First Time Attendee
Aug 14, 2014 (2pm - 3pm US/Eastern) 

The Washington Conference Webinar Series: What Congress Needs to Know About Your Business - Preparing for your March on Washington
Aug 21, 2014 (2pm - 3pm US/Eastern) 

The Washington Conference 2014
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

United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament
Sep 29, Oasis Golf Club, Loveland, OH