Secretary of Agriculture to meet with Washington Public Policy Conference attendees at USDA Headquarters

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will join Washington Public Policy Conference attendees at the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on October 5 for a candid meeting to discuss the current policy landscape for the produce industry regarding the Farm Bill, nutrition programs, agriculture research and other important USDA programs that will help promote the fresh produce industry. This marks the second time during his tenure as Agriculture Secretary that Vilsack has addressed the annual public policy summit of the United Fresh Produce Association.

“Secretary Vilsack and his team at USDA are intimately involved with so many issues that are important to the fresh produce industry,” said United Fresh President & CEO Tom Stenzel. “Attendees at this year’s Washington conference will have the chance to hear how these issues and more will affect their businesses.”

The meeting with USDA is part of a series of face-to-face meetings with industry regulators at this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference. In addition to the meeting with Secretary Vilsack, teams of attendees will meet with officials and representatives at the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss policy items impacting the fresh produce industry.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to meet with Secretary Vilsack and his team to discuss key programs currently offered by USDA that will help the fresh produce industry,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh. “While Tuesday’s conference offerings will focus on Capitol Hill’s agenda, Wednesday’s face-to-face meetings provide us with an opportunity to see how laws are implemented and turned into critical federal programs that can help enhance the competitiveness of the fresh produce industry. From specialty crop block grants and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to the new MyPlate icon, these initiatives are critical to our industry.”

In addition to the meeting at USDA, attendees will visit with officials at FDA for a discussion on the pending regulations stemming from the Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in January, as well as with EPA officials to address the implications of the Clean Water Act for grower-shippers and for other sectors of the produce industry.

Wednesday’s face-to-face meetings add to an exciting schedule at this year’s Washington Public Policy Conference, including Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), POLITICO co-founder Jim VandeHei, market segment-specific education sessions and the popular Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill. Additionally, this year’s schedule includes the most visits to congressional offices by conference attendees in the event’s history. More information on the Washington Public Policy Conference is available at www.unitedfresh.org/programs/wppc.

Source: United Fresh Produce Association

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