Participants of United Fresh Produce Association's 2021 Washington Conference Share Their Highlights
WASHINGTON, DC - From September 20 to 22, our industry gathered on Capitol Hill to connect with key government officials and move the needle on fresh produce advocacy. For the United Fresh Produce Association and all in attendance, the focus of the 2021 Washington Conference was an industry reunion and a return to in-person Congressional meetings. Overall, more than 80 meetings took place as 300 attendees throughout the supply chain advocated for issues including food safety, infrastructure, labor, and nutrition policy.
I had the chance to connect with several distinguished participants, all of whom have a unique take on the conference:
Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, United Fresh Produce Association
“This year’s event provided a prime opportunity to make the fresh produce industry’s most vital issues top of mind for key members of Congress through the rest of 2021 and beyond. Advocacy is a year-round initiative, and we look forward to continuing to build our relationships with elected officials and reinforce our message to build upon the progress we have already made.”
David Einstandig, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Mastronardi Produce®
“As always, the United Fresh team went above and beyond all expectations. The team delivered a safe, informative, and meaningful interaction among the fresh produce industry professionals and Congressional leaders. The event was well organized and effectively executed from start to finish. It addressed real-time issues and focused on how moving forward is critical to the fresh produce industry, the supply chain, and the customers across the country it serves. Thank you to United Fresh for a successful event; it was an honor to attend on behalf of Mastronardi Produce.”
Alex DiNovo, President and Chief Operating Officer, DNO Produce
“This conference is my favorite event of the produce industry show schedule because it gives attendees a chance to perform their civic duty to advocate for a better tomorrow. Although increased safety measures were in place, attendees were still able to meet with elected officials, and in more cases than usual, these meetings were smaller and often with the Congress member rather than the staffer. Of particular impact this year were two events, both initiated by influential and powerful women. The first was Senator Debbie Stabenow’s keynote, in which she covered the importance of fresh produce for children in particular, the government’s role in increasing consumption, and the need for immigration reform. The other event that stood out was the bill dropped mid-conference by Representative Rosa DeLauro, titled the Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act. She described the importance of access to high quality fruits and vegetables while lamenting the decision of USDA Secretary Vilsack to wind down the Farmers to Families Food Box Program.”
Tony Freytag, Executive Vice President, Crunch Pak®
“The Washington Conference was extremely helpful. The visit to the Hill in spite of the security logistics was well organized, timely, and got us in front of the right people. Nutrition, limited infrastructure bills, and especially labor help were all discussed and encouraged. United Fresh knocks it out of the park with this conference, it is extremely important to all of us in the industry to participate and be heard.”
Stefanie Katzman, Executive Vice President, S. Katzman Produce
“The conference allowed us to present a shared voice on behalf of the produce industry to affect positive change in Congress. Our insight from within the produce industry is so valuable. Things we do and experience every day—feeding our communities and working through challenges with labor shortages and logistics—these are so important for Congress to hear from us first-hand if we want to see change. When we come together and make our voices heard, we have the power to make the world a healthier and better place. Thank you to everyone who attended, and especially to United Fresh for bringing all of us together and giving us a platform to share our experiences and knowledge to work toward a better tomorrow.”
Cheers to the fierce fresh produce advocates who stepped up to the plate at this year’s Washington Conference. AndNowUKnow will continue to keep our eyes on the pivotal changes taking place at the Congressional level in fresh produce.