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IFPA wraps Washington Conference urging fresh priorities

washington conference box
Washington Conference attendees gave Congress members near-empty boxes of fruit, showing the risks of low harvests without labor reform. (Courtesy IFPA)

June 13, 2024 Washington, D.C. – Hundreds from across the produce and floral supply chain convened this week in the nation’s capital, June 10-12, for the Washington Conference hosted by the International Fresh Produce Association BB #:378962.

Attendees championed key public policy priorities by enlightening lawmakers and regulators about the industry’s most significant opportunities and challenges.

“IFPA and its members show up in Washington DC each year to stand up for fresh. It is critical to take our message directly to Congress, to act on legislation that impacts the U.S. fresh produce supply chain, especially to address our labor crisis,” said Rebeckah Adcock, IFPA’s Vice President U.S. Government Relations.

Top takeaways from the public policy priorities include:

Farm Bill & Agriculture Policy: the panel of professional staffers from the House and Senate Agricultural Committee member offices voiced consensus that they are working to pass a bi-partisan Farm Bill this year and not extend the timeline any further.

Labor & Workforce: the panel, representing the full fresh produce supply chain, discussed the IFPA labor crisis report and how each sector on the panel will bring the results of this critical report to their Members of Congress during their Congressional meetings.

Nutrition & Demand Creation: Our panel discussed ways to support increased consumption of fruit and vegetables across life stages through policy intervention.

The fresh sector’s premier annual policy event included powerful keynote speakers, vibrant celebrations showcasing the best of fresh produce and floral, the Advocate for Fresh on Capitol Hill Congressional Meetings, and much more.

Congressional Meetings
Through two days of Advocate for Fresh on Capitol Hill Congressional Meetings, attendees met with representatives from 199 offices, spanning 33 states. Additionally, to urge Congress to support U.S. produce production and reform agricultural labor laws and address the labor shortage, attendees delivered produce boxes to Capitol Hill. Alongside a half-filled box of fresh fruit, the boxes delivered a call to action…Congress has the power to fill this box. Reform ag labor laws now!

Joy of Fresh
Building on IFPA’s yearly Joy of Fresh on Capitol Hill, the courtyard at the Rayburn House Office Building was turned into a produce and floral destination. The event welcomed DC influencers, key congressional and administration staff, consumer advocates, industry leaders and more on June 11. Attendees celebrated the bounty that fresh produce and floral provides for health, happiness, and the economy in the heart of the offices of the elected officials that can make a difference for our industry.

Dynamic Speaker Lineup
Attendees were inspired and gained valuable insights from a dynamic lineup of speakers representing the industry, Congress, and the Administration. On June 11, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack headlined the State of the Fresh Nation Breakfast and the morning General Session, sharing the stage with IFPA CEO Cathy Burns. Secretary Vilsack confirmed USDA’s renewed commitment to supporting specialty crops as well as the investment in climate-smart agriculture.

In addition to educational sessions featuring speakers from CropLife America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, UNFI, National Grocers Association, and FGS Global, the founding members of the Congressional Specialty Crop Caucus addressed attendees on June 12. Earlier this year, champions in the U.S House of Representatives established the Congressional Specialty Crop Caucus to better coordinate legislation and support for congressional action that strengthens our sector. Co-chairs of the caucus, Representatives Jim Costa (CA-D), David Rouzer (NC-R), and Elissa Slotkin (MI-D), shared their unique perspectives on fresh produce and floral issues.

Later that morning, the Focus on Food Safety with FDA interactive roundtable brought together top FDA Human Food Program (HFP) officials with the fresh produce supply chain. Discussion focused on industry and administration priorities and critical top of mind issues from the key areas within the new HFP. Five speakers from the FDA, including Dr. Donald A. Prater, Acting Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, highlighted how industry and government can work together to enhance food safety year-round.

For more information on The Washington Conference, visit IFPA’s website.

About the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)
The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)?is the largest and most diverse international association serving the entire fresh produce and floral supply chain and the only to seamlessly integrate world-facing advocacy and industry-facing support. We exist to bring the industry together to create a vibrant future for all. We grow our member’s prosperity by conducting advocacy; connecting people and ideas; and offering guidance that allows us all to?take action?with purpose and confidence.

Contact: Ashley Sempowski, +1 (202) 303-3406