The Washington Conference

September 18-20, 2017 | Washington, D.C.

We are witnessing the most unprecedented presidential battle in decades. This is directly impacting congressional races throughout the country, leaving the control of both the House and Senate unsettled for both parties. Never has there been a more critical time for the produce industry to come together in Washington, D.C. to experience the Power of Fresh.

The Washington Conference is the industry’s annual gathering for strategic, face-to-face dialogue with key members of Congress, their staff and top regulatory officials. 

See Who Attended

Schedule of Events


Monday, September 12, 2016

All Day 

Volunteer Leadership Meetings    
Hyatt Regency (various locations)
7:00 am – 6:00 pm Registration Open
Regency Foyer, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency
Noon – 4:00 pmRising Leaders Program (Day 1)
Regency C, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency
4:30 pm – 5:30 pmNew Member and First-Time Attendee Welcome
Regency A Ballroom, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

Come one, come all! Join us for this special event welcoming United Fresh’s newest members and first-time Washington Conference attendees. Participate in an interactive overview of the association’s member benefits, and learn how to maximize engagement opportunities at the conference – starting with this one! 

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Opening Reception at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum
Kogod Courtyard, The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum

Our week begins with the Washington Conference Opening Reception – the perfect opportunity and setting to catch up with colleagues and find political inspiration in preparation for Tuesday’s March on Capitol Hill. Join industry peers in the hallowed halls of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery where portraits of every U.S. President, as well as men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, development and culture of the United States, hang in galleries open for your enjoyment. *

When you’re not exploring the galleries, convene in the Kogard Courtyard for reception fare. During this event, you also can have your own portrait made by visiting our United Fresh Portrait Booth. Your professional headshot will be sent to you following the conference.

8:00 pm – 10:00 pmLeadership Alumni Organization Event (Invitation only)
Lucky Strike, Washington, D.C.

This special event is for graduates of the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program. All Alumni and their spouses to enjoy an evening of networking, bowling and good cheer at Lucky Strike. Since its inception in 1995, the program has graduated 21 classes of produce industry leaders.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

7:00 am – 1:00 pmRegistration Open
Regency Foyer, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency
8:00 am – 9:30 amOpening Breakfast General Session
Regency Ballroom, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

Hear first hand the most up-to-date information on major trade negotiations, including prospects for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Keynote Speaker:
Ambassador Darci Vetter, Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative

In addition, American Vegetable Grower will present their annual Grower Achievement Award. In cooperation with United Fresh, this award honors growers who have taken production agriculture to new levels of innovation in food quality and safety, marketing and technological advancement.

9:45 am – 10:45 am                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Connecting Policy Issues to Your Business
(Concurrent Breakout Education Sessions)

  1. Does the Farm Bill Really Matter to Me?
    Columbia A, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

    Every five years, Congress sets overall farm policy in a new Farm Bill. With the 2018 Farm Bill debate beginning, hear how this legislation has impacted to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, and why it’s important that we lay the groundwork now for future success. From fruit and vegetable projects in all 50 states, to food safety research, to nutrition programs that build demand for consumption, learn what the Farm Bill means for you.

    Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, United Fresh Produce Association

    Dr. Robert Buchanan, Director, Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, University of Maryland
    Matthew Joyner, Director of Federal Affairs, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
    Phil MuirPresident and CEO, Muir Copper Canyon Farms

  2. The Food Police Are Coming – Liability Concerns and DOJ Enforcement
    Columbia B, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a new approach to investigating and enforcing laws under the Food, Drugs and Cosmetic Act. Hear from DOJ directly on which cases the agency chooses to investigate, and what factors determine whether criminal prosecutions are pursued. Also, learn your rights and responsibilities if DOJ shows up at your door. 

    Tom Stenzel, President and CEO, United Fresh Produce Association

    Jeff Steger, Assistant Director, Consumer Protection Branch, U.S. Department of Justice
    Doug Fellman, Partner, Hogan Lovells US LLP

  3. Environmental Stewardship vs. Overwrought Federal Regulations
    Columbia C, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

    Farmers are known as the first environmentalists, protecting the land and water where they grow their crops. But some federal regulators are increasingly taking an adversarial position on pesticide rules, water quality regulations and other environmental issues. Learn how agriculture is pushing back to protect and advance the use of sound science in regulation, and what you can to do to advocate for your business.

    George Radanovich, President & CEO, California Fresh Fruit Association

    Jay Vroom, President and Chief Executive Officer, CropLife America
    Nate Nourse, Sales Director, Nourse Farms

11:00 am – Noon Connecting Policy Issues to Your Business 
(Concurrent Breakout Education Sessions)

  1. Restoring Support for Fair Trade for Fresh Produce
    Columbia A, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

    While the United States is negotiating major trade agreements that will directly boost trade opportunities in produce, the future of such agreements has become increasingly muddled in this election year. Fair trade facilitates competitive markets, boosting business for importers and exporters, while providing consumers more choices at the best prices. So why are both Presidential campaigns denigrating trade? Trade experts from the produce industry and the broader business world share why trade is important to our future, and what we need to do to renew public and political support.

    Julie Manes, Director of Government Relations, United Fresh Produce Association

    Mark Girardin, President, North Bay Produce
    John Murphy, Senior Vice President for International Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    Mark Powers, Executive Vice President, Northwest Horticultural Council

  2. Labor Shortages Threaten Future Growth
    Columbia B, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

    Labor shortages today have engulfed the produce industry with little relief in sight. Demand on the H-2A guest worker program is skyrocketing, but bureaucracy is limiting our capacity to process applications. While legislation to enact comprehensive immigration reform is clearly the solution, what urgent fixes in today’s regulatory programs are needed to prevent crops rotting in the fields?

    Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, United Fresh Produce Association

    Chalmers R. Carr III, Owner/President, Titan Farms, LLC
    Frank Gasperini, Executive VP/CEO, National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE)
    Hanna Siegel, Deputy Director, Partnership for a New American Economy

  3. Fighting for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables on Capitol Hill
    Columbia C, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

    Access to healthy food options for students should be a no-brainer, but don’t tell that to naysayers working to reduce the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables served to kids. Join us for an expert roundtable on the urgent need to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for America’s children. Hear data and business success stories that will help you build your case on Capitol Hill this afternoon about why it is so important to increase student’s access to fresh fruit and vegetables and protect the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).

    Lorelei DiSogra Ed.D., RD, Vice President, Nutrition & Health, United Fresh Produce Association 

    Jennifer Noll Folliard MPH, RDN, Director, USDA Legislation and Policy, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    Alex DiNovo, Vice President, DNO Inc.

Noon – 1:30 pmGeneral Session Luncheon: What’s Happening on the Hill?
Regency Ballroom, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

Before our March on Capitol Hill this afternoon, hear first-hand from Senator Thom Tillis what’s happening on key industry issues, including immigration reform, trade, and nutrition policy.

Keynote Speaker:
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC);Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

2:00 pmThe Power of Fresh Group Photo
Capitol Reflecting Pool, U.S. Capitol Building
 2:30 pm – 5:30 pmMarch on Capitol Hill: U.S. House & Senate Congressional Meetings

You are the Power of Fresh! Join the largest grassroots effort of the fresh produce industry as we March on Capitol Hill. This is your time to meet face-to-face with your elected officials and their staff to discuss critical issues to your business and share personal testimony of how actions taken in Washington directly affect you, your community and the produce industry overall.

New this year, we will take a small sampling of what product our industry has to offer to our congressional meetings. This is a perfect Segway to inviting your congressional leaders and their staff to your facility to see the impact you have locally.

6:00 pm – 9:00 pmUnited FreshPAC Presidential Election Party (Separately Ticketed Event)
Regency Ballroom, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

Has the current presidential campaign exhausted your political enthusiasm? Re-energized at this fun filled evening with like-minded peers in support of United FreshPAC. For one evening, put your political views aside and come together for great food, hearty laughs and entertainment sure to please both Republicans and Democrats.

Keeping the room rolling as they preview of this year’s election, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry at the hilarious political satire of the famous Capitol Steps. This renowned comedy revue troupe will have you roaring as Hillary, Donald and today’s cast of political characters bring you inside Washington’s halls of power –a very scary place!

With energy high, United Fresh will recognize Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) for his service in Congress and unwavering dedication to the fresh produce industry during the party. After 12 terms in the House of Representatives, Congressman Farr will retire in January 2017.

Cast your vote in a mock election to predict the presumptive next president!

Purchase your tickets here or contact

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

7:30 am – 10:00 amRegistration Open
Regency Foyer, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency
8:00 am – 10:00 am                                                                                                                                                                                         General Session Breakfast
Regency Ballroom, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

Keynote Speakers:
John Block, Former Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture; Donald Trump Campaign
Dan Glickman, Former Secretary, United States Department of Agriculture; Hillary Clinton Campaign 

The 2016 Presidential Election is shaping up to be an historic event for the country. Hear from both the Clinton and Trump campaigns as both parties address the critical issues facing our industry and elaboration on ways their candidates plan to tackle these issues should they be elected our 45th President this November.

An Insider’s Look at the 2014 Elections

Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Frank Luntz, Political Consultant

Named one of Time magazine’s 50 most promising leaders under 40 and a Fellow at Harvard University’s prestigious Institute of Politics, Frank Luntz is an outspoken conservative author, political pollster and advisor who has helped shape debates on our nation’s most critical issues. Enjoy his entertaining, behind-the-scenes perspective on how the 2016 presidential election will impact the produce industry.

The 2016 Washington Conference will conclude with the presentation of the United Fresh Advocate of the Year Award. Each year, United Fresh recognizes an organization that has gone above and beyond in advocacy on behalf of the fresh produce industry. Join us in celebrating this year’s award winner!

 Conference Concludes
10:30 am – 1:30 pmRising Leader Program (Day 2)
Regency C, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

*Schedule subject to change.

Industry Issues

Issues Brief: Child Nutrition Reauthorization  

Download the Issues Brief

For more than a decade United Fresh has played a leadership role in driving nutrition policy changes that increase children’s access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables in schools.  We have championed the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) and school meals that double the amount of fruits and vegetables served daily and emphasize the importance of students eating more fruits and vegetables.  

All child nutrition programs, including school lunch/breakfast, WIC, FFVP, must be reauthorized by Congress every five years. Although both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bills out of committee in 2016, the two bills take fundamentally different approaches, and have not been considered on either the House or Senate floor.

United Fresh supports the Senate Agriculture Committee’s bipartisan child nutrition bill that protects strong fruit and vegetable standards in school meals, protects the requirement that a school meal must include at least a ½ cup of a fruit or a vegetable, and protects the integrity of the FFVP while allowing flexibility for schools in remote areas. 

United Fresh opposes the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s partisan child nutrition bill which rolls back many of the improvements made in healthier school meals and guts the FFVP by allowing all forms of processed fruits and vegetables and other snack foods to be served.

Although a challenging year on Capitol Hill, the Senate’s bipartisan child nutrition bill provides the best vehicle for a strong reauthorization bill becoming law this year. 

Since 2012, more than 32 million students have enjoyed healthier school meals every day that include a wide variety and at least a ½ cup of fruits or vegetables. The nutrition standards are working! Students are eating more fruits and vegetables at school.  Fruit consumption is up 23% and vegetable consumption has increased 16%. Additionally, schools around the country have added thousands of salad bars and implemented other creative strategies to increase students’ fruit and vegetable consumption. Nationwide, 91% of parents support the ½ cup fruit/vegetable requirement. When public health calls for filling half our plate with fruits and vegetables, it would make no sense to roll back these very modest steps. How could anyone call it a healthy school lunch if it doesn’t include at least one-half cup of a fruit or a vegetable?

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program provides 4 million low-income elementary students with a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school. For more than a decade, the FFVP has been a model of success — introducing students to a wide variety of great-tasting fresh fruits and vegetables and helping kids develop healthy eating habits for a lifetime. A national evaluation demonstrated that the FFVP significantly increases children’s fruit and vegetable consumption; is very popular with schools, parents and children; and results in students eating more fruits and vegetables at lunch. A recent study has shown that the FFVP reduces childhood obesity in participating children. School meals already provide plenty of processed fruits and vegetables. Congress needs to protect the FFVP to ensure kids are introduced to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Tell members of Congress in both the House and Senate to:

  • KEEP the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program ‘FRESH’
  • KEEP ½ cup of fruits and vegetables in school meals
  • Pass the Senate Child Nutrition Bill and send to President Obama to sign into law.

Issues Brief: Immigration Reform 

For more than a decade the produce industry and agricultural partners have made an overwhelming case for legislation to reform our broken immigration system and help us build a legal and reliable workforce. Congress has been close many times to taking action, but fears and politics have always intervened. Today’s political environment has stalled any progress, while the industry’s labor force dwindles and an inefficient H-2A guest worker program further erodes our ability to harvest and pack crops.

We must have a twofold labor solution — a pathway to legal status for our valued, but undocumented workers already engaged in agriculture, and a new, or at least significantly improved, guest worker program to bring in skilled agriculture workers to do the jobs Americans are unwilling to do.

We also must fight to prevent a mandatory E-verify requirement, without a companion guest worker program. Furthermore, we need reform to reduce the inefficiency and bureaucracy in the current H-2A guest worker program. 

While comprehensive immigration reform continues to be a top issue for the fresh produce industry, we are also working to show bipartisan support for reforming the current H-2A program.  With no alternatives, growers have doubled the use of the H-2A program in recent years, with 20% growth expected annually for the foreseeable future.  H-2A is the only program that growers can use to find a viable and legal workforce at this time, so it is essential that it be improved to meet growers’ needs.

In June, 101 Democratic and Republican members of the House of Representatives wrote a letter to the Department of Labor asking to address some of the key challenges their constituents face in using the H-2A program.  Right now a similar letter is being circulated in the Senate.  We need a strong bipartisan group of Senators on this letter to drive administrative changes within H-2A.

Finally, this will be the industry’s last opportunity before the November election to encourage Congress to address the long-term failures of current immigration laws.  Despite the rhetoric of the Presidential campaigns thus far, we must convince members of Congress that this crisis must be addressed by the next Administration and Congress. 

Tell members of Congress in both the House and Senate to:

  • Understand that comprehensive immigration reform is still critical for the fresh produce industry! Without long-term comprehensive reform, labor shortages will fundamentally undercut the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry.
  • Improve the H-2A program’s efficiency, and provide oversight of federal agencies running this program.

Issue Brief: Free and Fair Trade

Free and fair trade works for the fresh produce industry. 
Gaining access to export markets is critical for U.S. growers, and the U.S. needs to apply the same standards in considering imports as we expect from other countries.  We live in a global industry, and it’s important that U.S. and foreign negotiators reach agreements that facilitate free and fair trade without protectionism and unscientific sanitary and phytosanitary barriers.

In 2015, Congress reached a breakthrough in trade policy and passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which has been signed into law by the President. This means the President can present negotiated trade agreements to Congress for a yes or no vote. United Fresh supported TPA because of its critical role in enabling trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has the potential to provide significant produce trade opportunities in Asia, North America and South America.  Since that time, countries that are a party to the TPP, including the United States, have completed negotiations and Congress now needs to approve TPP for the produce industry to see the benefits of this agreement.

Tell members of Congress in both the House and Senate to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement now!

March on Capitol Hill

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U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate Congressional Meetings
Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Be part of the conversation and show Congress how strong our industry voice can be during one focused afternoon of strategic meetings with Members of Congress and their staff. This is your chance to ensure our elected officials hear your voice on the issues that affect your business and our industry.

ISSUES | Food Safety | Taxes | Appropriations | Water | Food labeling | GMO  | Impact of Media and Social Media on the Industry and/or Politics | Organics | Environmental Regulations and Consumer Perceptions | Immigration Need for DOL to Fix H2A | Transportation | Nutrition | Appropriations | Trade

Washington Conference attendees have visited Congressional office in 35 states.

Rising Leaders Program

The Rising Leaders Program, held annually at the United Fresh Washington Conference, is growing in 2016! With 3 additional hours of education designed for produce industry up-and-comers who want to better understand the impact of public policy and the legislative process as it pertains to their business, the program is a must-attend. Success in today’s produce industry business environment is inherently linked to an understanding and ability to navigate the rules and regulations of government. Learn how you can play a critical role in shaping public policy to build a profitable business environment for the fresh produce industry.


Participants in the Rising Leaders Program must register for the Washington Conference and participate in both Monday and Wednesday portions. There is no additional cost to attend the Program.


Need support articulating the value of your attendance to your supervisor? Download the Convince Your Boss letter.

United FreshPAC Presidential Election Party


With the presidential election taking place a few short weeks away from this year’s annual PAC dinner on Tuesday, September 13, the evening promises a night of great food, fun and games for both Republicans and Democrats.

In our preview of this year’s election, you won’t know whether to laugh or cry at the hilarious political satire of the famous Capitol Steps. This renowned comedy revue troupe will have you roaring as Hillary, Donald and today’s cast of political characters bring you inside Washington’s halls of power – a very scary place!

Cast your vote in our mock election and help us predict the presumptive next president if the produce industry gets our way! For questions reach out to Angela Tiwari at 202.303.3416 or

Sign up online here!

Why should you support United FreshPAC? Click below to hear from Chairman Tony Freytag.

Tony Freytag on United Fresh PAC







Hotel & Travel


The Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill is the event location for the United Fresh Washington Conference.  The Hyatt is offering a discounted group rate of $289. We recommend securing your housing as soon as possible. Please click here to reserve your hotel room, or contact the hotel directly at 1-888-421-1442.

Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
(202) 737-1234 or 1-888-421-1442

The Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill is located 4.6 miles from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). Alternatively Dulles International Airport (IAD) is 27.6 miles and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) is 31.7 respectively. A variety of ground transportation options are available at the airports.

Volunteer Leadership Meetings

Market Segment Boards and Expert Policy Councils

United Fresh Produce Association is led by more than 450 individuals currently serving in elected or appointed positions of leadership. These volunteer leaders represent our member companies throughout the entire produce supply chain from farm to table. Attendees are welcome to observe market segment boards and expert policy council meetings.

Monday, September 12

9:00 am – 4:30 pmFood Safety & Technology
9:00 am – NoonFinance & Business Management
 Government Relations Council
 Produce Marketing & Merchandising
 Supply Chain Logistics Council
10:00 am – NoonLeadership Alumni Board
Noon – 1:15 pmVolunteer Leadership Lunch
1:30 pm – 4:30 pmFresh Start Foundation Board*
 Grower-Shipper Board
 Fresh-Cut Processor Board
 Wholesaler-Distributor Board
 Retail-Foodservice Board

Wednesday, September 14

10:30 am – 9:00 pmBoard of Directors Meeting & Dinner*

Thursday, September 15

8:00 am – 11:00 amBoard of Directors Meeting*

*Meeting is not open to observe

Hear What People Are Saying

“It’s easy to think that policies set in Washington won’t impact our daily business, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s definitely worth the time and financial investment to go to D.C. and take an active role in the industry’s future. If we don’t who will?” 
– Douglas Kling, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Village Farms International, Inc.

“There aren’t a lot of opportunities where we can all get together to focus on policies to enhance farming, production agriculture, and the food industry in our country.”
– Caitlin Antle Wilson, Tanimura & Antle

“We all attend a number of events throughout the year. However, the Washington Conference is the only platform in which we discuss policy in depth and can bring our message directly to members of Congress. We can express the critical nature of their vote and how their decisions directly impact the future of the fresh produce industry”
– Jose Rossignoli, General Manager, Tropical Category, Robinson Fresh

“Federal legislation will have a major impact on all of us in the produce industry now and for years to come. We need to talk directly with our lawmakers and government officials to show them how federal policies affect our business.” 
– Ron Carkoski, President & CEO, Four Seasons Family of Companies


Thank you to our 2016 sponsors!

Platinum Level 

ALC-ALCLogistics-Logos      Apio-Color-Logo     TWC-Del-Monte-Fresh      TWC-FourSeasonsFamilyofComp                           
FGS     meister     Monsanto      Produce-Business                
 TWC-TA     Produce-News       WonderfulCitrus

Gold Level

TWC-Baldor      120x120_Bayer-Logo       Blue Book Services        TWC-GrimmwayEnterprise
 IFCOGlobal     ProdProc_web    Packer


Silver Level

 TWC-CalGiantBerry         CHEP_LogoTreatment_2015_0507(WhiteBG)     150x86_Crunch-Pak-Logo-Gradient_tagline 150x111_DUDA_FFF_RGB    Frontera           
 163x67_hmc-farms      TWC-Manns    TWC-Robinson-Fresh      WP_RAWL

Bronze Level

cabbage         150x92_Famous-Software-Logo-Large-(400w_124h)          FoxPackaging_CMYK     130x120_GlobalGAP_Logo_slogan_green                            
 150x107_indianapolis-fruit-logo_extra_large_register_symbol       150x106_L-and-M_Logo_CMYKtag   150x67_Mission-Avocados-Heritage-Logo      NorthBay-Produce-Logo                           
Produce Careers Logo New 2014          163x109_Sensitech_tag_Standard_CMYK

For more information on the Washington Conference, contact Angela Tiwari, Director of Grassroots and Political Action, at 202.303.3416.