The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) recently celebrated a milestone: its 50th annual convention, drawing members and suppliers from across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. As president, Lance Jungmeyer continues to guide the organization through ups and downs, evolving alongside its members as the perishables supply chain navigates a politically charged and often uncertain global marketplace.
Q: What are your thoughts on 2019? What would you like to accomplish this year?
A: I’m excited to get back to “regular” business. The past couple of years have been focused on analyzing the changing geopolitical environment and how it relates to feeding America with healthy fruits and vegetables.
Because of a lack of water, land, and labor in the United States, we see more and more U.S. firms are looking to do business in Mexico. Despite the turbulence caused by the negotiation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, this need has not abated. We help companies get their produce across the border quicker, more efficiently, and with less red tape—which means our members can focus on what they do best: feeding North America with wholesome fresh produce.
Q: How many local, state, federal, or international agencies do you work with on a regular basis?
A: We’re in a unique spot, in the middle of international commerce. Because we work with the importing companies, who know the day-to-day problems that can occur at the border, we’re able to bridge gaps in understanding between the industry and both the U.S. and Mexican governments.
For agencies that have a regulatory impact on imports or the distribution of fruits and vegetables, we probably have a relationship with them. On the federal side, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have always been first and foremost.
But we also work closely with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and many more. If you can think of any corresponding agencies in Mexico, we work with them as well. And ditto for the states that touch the border—we are a conduit for solutions.
Q: How will your members be affected by the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement compared to NAFTA?
A: It will take time, but we should see much improved cooperation between the three nations. In fresh produce, we should see mutual recognition programs where USDA and SAGARPA (Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries, and Food)
will trust each other more often to do certain agriculture inspections or certificates. We should see more transparency and cooperation in food safety. There are some very positive changes in the trade agreement.