United Fresh Produce Association Washington Conference by the Numbers
- by Jordan Okumura
WASHINGTON, DC - The United Fresh Produce Association Washington Conference has officially wrapped, bringing a multitude of industry leaders from every sector of fresh produce to the table in DC. With important issues ranging from trade and immigration to water, transportation, and beyond, the impact of the annual event is sure to ripple through the remainder of 2019 and into the new year.
Let’s take a quick look at the event by the numbers—with thanks to the United Fresh team—which reveals the magnitude of the conference and the industry’s investment in their relationships with their elected officials:
- Participants marched on Capitol Hill for 216 visits with Congressmen and Senators.
- Attendees represented 40 states and six countries.
- 22 percent of attendees were first-time attendees to the Washington Conference.
- Attendance was up by 23 percent over 2018.
“Republicans and Democrats may not agree on much, but this week’s United Fresh Washington Conference demonstrated the power of a unified produce industry voice,” John Hollay, Senior Director, Government Relations, shared. “The bipartisan support for labor reforms for agriculture, trade, and the passage of USMCA, and further investments in our children’s future through our school nutrition programs is something that members of Congress from both sides of the aisle demonstrated they can agree on.”
Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President of Public Policy also expressed his thoughts on the successful conference.
“This week demonstrated the importance of meeting face to face with members of Congress and their staff as our elected officials determine which issues they must address in the next few months,” Guenther reflected. “The messages we, as an industry, delivered addressing our labor challenges, overcoming trade difficulties, and ensuring that children have access to fresh fruits and vegetables were almost unanimously well-received by Congress.”
Stefanie Katzman, President of S. Katzman Produce, also believes the event is truly worthwhile for everyone involved.
"Although it may be the convention that most people in the industry are the least aware of, it is really one of the most important. As we all know, there are certain things in the produce industry we have no control over, like the weather for example, but there are other key factors that affect our business, and it is important to make sure we are represented and have the opportunity to be heard," stated Katzman. "Those running our government and making these industry decisions on our behalf are in office to serve us, so it is our responsibility to let them know how they can best do that. United Fresh works year-round to represent us in Washington, and Robert does an amazing job for the industry, but he cannot do it alone, and the more support we can give, the better we will all benefit. Farm bills, trade laws, face-to-face meetings with congress, and educational sessions on what we can do and how we are affected are just some of the topics. And of course at like all conventions, it is another great opportunity to network."
Curious as to what more of our industry friends from Randy Giumarra to Lisa McNeece had to say? Check out the event in their words, here.
Thank you to all those who brought your voice to the Hill on behalf of the produce industry!