International Fresh Produce Association Washington Conference: It's a Wrap!
WASHINGTON, DC - Convening at the most well-known address in the United States, the industry gathered to discuss all things fresh at The Washington Conference (TWC) from September 26–28. The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) partnered with the White House and other organizations on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.
Day one saw IFPA hosting the Produce Economic Outlook Forum in conjunction with the Economic Impact Report. The session featured respected authorities in and out of the fresh produce industry to provide context and discussion points for IFPA’s Inaugural Industry Economic Impact Study. IFPA Chief Public Policy Officer Robert Guenther welcomed attendees and introduced panel speakers Justin Cook, Consumer Products Research Leader, Deloitte Services; and Matthew Barry, Food and Beverages Insights Manager Americas, Euromonitor International.
“Fifty-three percent of U.S. consumers shared the higher cost of food is causing them stress, and 75 percent of global consumers are concerned about rising prices overall. However, 9 out of 10 told us fresh food makes them happy,” shared Cook, speaking on the effects of food inflation on the economy and shopper buying habits.
IFPA Board of Directors Secretary-Treasurer and Managing Director Patrick Vizzone and Head of Agri-Food, Asia Pacific, Franklin Templeton wrapped up the forum by hosting a panel of industry guests. The panelists provided their unique insights on how the entire supply chain is managing and forecasting current fluctuations.
The association then hosted the Produce Advocacy Bootcamp to help both first-time and returning attendees engage in congressional meetings and speak on key issues on behalf of the industry. Attendees experienced a professional development experience while gleaning insights on Advocacy in Washington and tapping into key networking opportunities with industry peers and high-profile leaders.
Lunch Keynote speaker Elaine Trevino, Senior Supply Chain Advisor to the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, later took the floor to discuss how the Administration is addressing short-term supply chain discontinuities and their effects on the fresh produce and floral supply chains.
On the second day, September 27, industry members Marched on the Hill to advocate for our industry by attending meetings with members of Congress, key Administration staff, and embassy briefings. Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee Senator John Boozman (R-AR) spoke at the opening General Session Breakfast, discussing the outlook of agriculture and business. As the highest ranking Republican directly working on industry issues in Congress, noted the association’s release, this was a significant opportunity for attendees to hear his insights.
“Long a champion for ensuring that farmers, communities, and consumers have access to the resources they need, Senator Boozman’s voice on the Senate Agriculture Committee helps ensure our shared success for years to come,” noted Laura Himes, Chair Elect of IFPA’s Board of Directors and Senior Director Merchandising, Produce at Walmart, on the keynote.
After the education breakout sessions, IFPA launched the Joy of Fresh on Capitol Hill. Attendees also met with Senate and House representatives that afternoon touching on environmental protection, foodservice, and international relations.
September 28 marked the third and final day of TWC, and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made an unexpected visit, thanking the industry for its continued advocacy and dedication to feeding the nation and world. Secretary Vilsack also noted the ongoing need to expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables across the country through linking the strategy of nutrition and health to models such as food as medicine. He concluded with an impassioned plea for the industry concerning congressional action on immigration reform via the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, as the issue is fundamental to the U.S. farm economy.
As a part of the morning keynote, IFPA recognized several excellent leaders who are playing important roles as industry advocates, such as the 2022 Caplan Family Business Scholarship Winners and the Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA), a third-generation Yakima Valley farmer, kicked off the day’s Lunch Session with election expert Editor and Publisher Nathan L. Gonzales of Inside Elections, who took the stage to provide a non-partisan look toward the midterms and the current political environment.
“Congress is on the line in the upcoming midterm elections,” said Gonzales, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the latest races and even providing some of his own projections. “This cycle is an opportunity for all voters to get involved because every seat matters. Neither party can afford a mistake this November.”
Attendees continued the second day of March on Washington and met with U.S. representatives and key global leaders.
A whirlwind of fresh advocacy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! For more details on the events, click here, and follow ANUK for more industry updates.