Updates from United Fresh Government Relations Community
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Another busy week in Washington, DC for the fresh produce industry and United Fresh. From immigration to trade, there are many issues that the fresh produce industry must engage our elected representatives and administration officials on a daily basis. Most importantly having a strong collective voice in Washington, DC is vital to our success. So don’t forget to join us September 18-20 at our annual Washington Conference. Will you resist, ignore, or ENGAGE. Register here today!
1. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Agriculture Guest Worker Program and the impact it is having on fresh produce growers across the country. Two United Fresh members companies testified at the hearing including United Fresh Board member Sara Talley-Frey, President and CEO of Frey Farms and John Wyss, orchard owner at Gebbers Farms from Brewster, Washington. Both gave compelling testimony regarding why our current immigration system in this country is broken and the need for Congress to create a new agriculture guest worker program. Scenes from the hearing are included here along with a short video of Sarah making a passionate case for reform during the hearing.
2. On Thursday, United Fresh held a volunteer leaders fly-in to Washington, DC. Over 30 members of United Fresh’s volunteer leaders marched on Capitol Hill to talk about the need for immigration reform, FSMA challenges and opportunities, along with Farm Bill, trade, and nutrition discussions with key congressional offices. We also participated in a 20 minute Facebook Live event where Board Member Mark Girardin from North Bay Produce and Grower-Shipper Board Member Adam Lytch joined me to talk about their day on Capitol Hill and what they learned during their visits with Members of Congress. To watch a video of the Facebook Live event click here. Additional scenes from the fly-in can be found here.
3. On Monday the Administration released a summary of their NAFTA negotiation objectives. All three parties to the NAFTA agreement will formally sit down to begin negotiations on August 16 here in Washington, DC. In June, United Fresh submitted comments regarding the NAFTA negotiations to the Administration.
4. Over the last week, two amendments were passed in Congress that would be helpful to fruit and vegetable producers that use the H-2A guest worker program. Congressman Dan Newhouse from the 4th district in Washington, was successful in securing an amendment that would allow H-2A workers to utilize housing provided by USDA’s Section 514 Housing program. Under this program, employers can apply for loans to buy, build, improve, and repair housing for farm laborers. Previously H-2A workers were excluded from this housing. In addition, Congressman Newhouse was able to get another amendment passed that allows for the H-2A program to be open to all of agriculture. Previously, H-2A was only open for seasonal worker (10 months or less). These amendments must now come to the House floor for consideration.
5. Two articles of interest that you might want to read. First, Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio and a past speaker at our Washington Conference wrote a strong editorial about improving test scores in schools. One of his suggestions was to expand the use of salad bars in schools. Also, the Washington Times reported last week on how President Trump understands the need of comprehensive immigration reform but he feels the country is not ready for it.
- Robert L. Guenther