Policies Promoting an Effective Business Environment
Growers, shippers, wholesalers and retailers would not be able to provide Americans with an abundant supply of nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables when they are met with detrimental business issues that threaten their daily economic livelihood. Whether it’s lack of adequate federal water usage and storage standards or delays resulting from crippling conditions of our nation’s highways or complications from overseas trade deals, United Fresh educates members of Congress on these critical issues to keep fresh produce companies in business.
The historic drought affecting California and much of the western United States is creating a devastating toll on America’s fresh fruit and vegetable supply across the country. To date the drought has resulted in more than $2 billion in lost income, 17,000 lost jobs and 300 billion gallons of diverted water away from California’s Central Valley – the nation’s leading provider of fruits and vegetables.
Congress must act swiftly and pass legislation that both modernizes outdated federal water laws and regulations and realizes a critical balance between rural and urban environmental needs. Making sensible changes to federal water policies will help fresh fruit and vegetable providers stay in business and continue to provide nutritious fresh produce to Americans across the country. Without assistance, consumers will be forced to purchase fruits and vegetables outside the U.S., where pesticide use and farming techniques are often less regulated than in the U.S.
In June of 2015, the House of Representatives passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act – legislation introduced by Representative David Valadao (R-CA) that would provide relief to drought-stricken areas of California and the western United States by addressing a number of water supply challenges.
Specifically, the bill:
- requires federal and state agencies to use better science, as regulatory decisions based on new science will provide more water to parched communities.
- enacts permitting reforms aimed at building infrastructure to capture water for humans and species, enabling the movement and storage of water throughout California to better prepare for future droughts.
This July, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) introduced S. 1894, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act. Key provisions of the bill:
- assist rural and disadvantaged drought-stricken communities with a new USDA program.
- seek federal support for desalination projects.
- promote the building of new reservoirs, support water recycling projects, increase agriculture water conservation mandates and expand protections for threatened fish and wildlife.
United Fresh Action:
July 30, 2015 | United Fresh Applauds Introduction of Senate Water Legislation
USDA Economic Research Service “California Drought: Farm and Food Impacts“
Global Trade and Border Access Points
Moving commodities safely and efficiently across borders and maximizing trade opportunities are increasingly important issues for the fruit and vegetable industry. United Fresh is committed to ensuring that trade opportunities for fruit and vegetable providers are robust and fair.
That’s why United has been a long-time advocate of federal programs that promote market opportunities such as the Market Access Program (MAP) and the Technical Assistance to Specialty Crops (TASC) program. During deliberations on the 2014 Farm Bill, United Fresh vigorously advocated that funds for MAP and TASC be maintained. As a result, in spite of increasingly tight federal budgets, these key programs were maintained at their current spending levels.
United Fresh also believes that the United States must have effective trade policies that ensure fair trade opportunities for fresh produce providers. United Fresh has worked with other sectors of agriculture to advocate for Trade Promotion Authority to allow for streamlined congressional consideration of trade agreements.
United Fresh Action:
January 23, 2017 | United Fresh Letter to President Trump Regarding NAFTA
Information on Exports to China and the Zika Virus:
The government of China has recently issued regulations requiring that imported American goods be certified as mosquito-free to prevent the spread of Zika. There are many questions that remain about how this regulation will be implemented. To provide assistance to those exporting to China, the following links provide information on the situation. United Fresh will be updating this page as more information becomes available.
August 18, 2016 | Foreign Commercial Service: Zika Chinese Fumigation Requirement Q & A
Transportation and Infrastructure
United Fresh works closely with our members to ensure adequate resources and capacity for our nation’s ports and highways so that fresh produce can be moved into the marketplace as safely and quickly as possible. We also collaborate with other sectors of the agriculture industry to advocate for policies that meet the transportation and logistics needs of businesses throughout the agriculture production chain. Adequate infrastructure funding and common-sense transportation policies will continue to be top priorities for the association.
Earlier in the summer of 2015, the Senate passed (on a bipartisan vote) H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act – a $350 billion, six-year long-term transportation funding bill, although it technically only funds transportation projects for three years. This momentum provided the first real chance for a comprehensive, bipartisan legislative package to enact much-needed upgrades to a variety of transportation programs.
After passing a temporary extension this summer that kept transportation programs funded until the end of October, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously passed its own long-term transportation bill – H.R. 3763, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform (STRR) Act of 2015. The full House of Representatives passed STRR in November, however several key United Fresh priorities were not contained in the bill, including an amendment offered by Representative Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) that would have allowed states to increase truck weight limits on their respective interstate highways, thereby increasing efficiency in a safe manner. Two other amendments regarding federal motor carrier hiring standards and port performance data collection also were not included in the bill, though House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership has expressed commitment to addressing these critical issues during the reconciliation process – when both the House and Senate bills are combined into one comprehensive piece of legislation prior to heading to the president for his signature.
United Fresh was also actively engaged in communicating with the Administration on the recent West Coast port shut down.
United Fresh Action:
December 3, 2015 | Agricultural Associations FAST Act Letter
November 12, 2015 | ECONOMICS Act Support Letter
November 17, 2015 | United Fresh Letter to Transportation Conferees
November 11, 2015 | Agricultural Associations Letter to Transportation Bill Conferees
November 5, 2015 | United Fresh Pleased with Progress on Long-term Transportation Bill
June 25, 2015 | Transportation Legislation Moves in the Senate
June 24, 2015 | United Fresh Welcomes Passage of Trade Promotion Authority
June 10, 2015 | FMC Ports Congestion Letter
April 27, 2015 | FMC Ports Congestion Letter
November 6, 2014 | Industry Associations Letter to President Barack Obama