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A new feel for this year’s IFPA Washington Conference

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For long-time attendees of International Fresh Produce Association’s BB #:378962 Washington Conference, the 2024 edition should feel new in several ways.

The biggest change is moving from its traditional mid-September slot to June 10-12.

Rebeckah Adcock, IFPA’s Vice President, U.S. Government Relations, said the move was made for two main reasons.

“This gives us the ability to influence the cycle better, as it’s better for the legislative calendar,” noting that time gets compressed in the lead up to an election, especially a presidential one in November. “It’s also better timing for our members and attendees.”

Adcock said the two political priorities for attendees this year will be the farm bill and labor.

On the farm bill, the Republican-led house passed its version May 23, and now the Senate will have its turn. Regardless of when that version gets through the Senate, conference attendees will be asking members of Congress to make a farm bill passage this year a priority.

Adcock said it’s a tough ask to have a compromise farm bill passed before the election, but it’s possible it could be worked on and passed in the session after the election, called the “lame duck” session. If it’s not, then Congress will have to pass an extension and then work on it in the next Congress, which begins in January 2025.

On labor, Adcock said attendees will stress that ag labor problems have passed the point of being important to critical that the guest worker program be reformed to make it less burdensome, and then the whole immigration system addressed, which has been a problem for decades.

As far as speakers go, she is optimistic that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will appear, as he’s done in the past. He’s been invited, but his staff hasn’t confirmed his appearance.

Of the many high profile speakers confirmed, Adcock said she most looks forward to the Power of Fresh Breakfast with the Congressional Specialty Crop Caucus on Wednesday, June 12.

The co-chairs of the caucus are all confirmed: Rep. Jim Costa (CA-D); Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-D);  Rep. David Rouzer (NC-R); and Rep. David Valadao (CA-R).

Adcock said the four will help attendees craft their messages in ways that will appeal to Congress members on the farm bill and labor.

This year’s conference will feature separate afternoons of hill visits for the House of Representatives (June 11) and the Senate (June 12).

The Joy of Fresh on Capitol Hill also returns this year on June 11 at the Rayburn House Office Building Courtyard, and new this year is a Women’s Fresh Perspective networking lunch on June 10.

Those interested in the conference can find out more here.


Greg Johnson is Vice President of Media for Blue Book Services