Trade issues are challenging the fresh produce industry around the world. With NAFTA negotiations continuing, it’s critical for industry associations to stay current on trade restrictions and opportunities. The United Fresh Washington Conference, Sept 24-26, is the U.S. fresh produce industry’s annual gathering of more than 500 leaders, meeting to address the industry’s most pressing public policy matters. Keynote speakers will include Ted McKinney, Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, United States Department of Agriculture.
The U.S. is a particularly important market for Ontario greenhouse vegetable growers, and OGVG chair George Gilvesy will be attending. “It’s essential for our industry to be up-to-date on current trade and policy matters” he says. The United Fresh Produce Association, which organizes the conference, is a partner in the North American produce market, he adds.
Alison Robertson, executive director of the OFVGA will also be there to provide a voice and presence for Ontario fruit and vegetable growers. She’s particularly interested in the new Global Trade Forum that will look at north and south hemispheric trade, exports to and from Asia, and future market growth.
In addition to trade issues, the agenda ranges from more effective strategies to fight foodborne illness, to the 2018 Farm Bill’s investment in specialty crop agriculture. There’s also a discussion planned around the $70 billion-a-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly food stamps), and how SNAP could focus on healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
The conference will provide useful information leading up to the Canadian ‘Fall Harvest 2018 – Meetings on the Hill’ Nov. 5-7 in Ottawa sponsored by the Canadian Horticultural Council, Canadian Produce Marketing Association, and other grower and industry associations. That gathering will focus on advocacy work on Parliament Hill, lobbying parliamentarians on behalf of Canada’s fruit and vegetable industry.