Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, which will meet Oct. 25 to Oct. 26, 2016, at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Va. The committee meets Oct. 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET and Oct. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) oversees the 25-member committee to ensure that it is administered according to the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Members are nominated by the industry.
The following members will serve two-year terms from 2016 to 2018:
- Mark Allison, The Cheesecake Factory, Calabasas Hills, Calif.;
- Christie Balch, Crossroads Community Foods Network, Takoma Park, Md.;
- Virginia Barnes, Barnes Farm LLP, Hastings, Fla.; *
- Michael Janis, San Francisco Wholesale Market, San Francisco, Calif.;
- Hollie Manier Johnson, Bay Baby Produce, Burlington, Wash.;
- Beth Knorr, Cuyahuga Valley Countryside Conservancy, Peninsula, Ohio; *
- Mark Nicholson, Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, N.Y.;
- Robert Nolan, Deer Run Farms LLC, Brookhaven, N.Y.; *
- Diane Smith, Michigan Apple Committee, Lansing, Mich.; *
- Dan Sutton, Pismo Oceano Vegetable Exchange, Oceano, Calif.;
- Bruce Talbott, Talbott’s Mountain Gold LLP, Palisade, Colo.;
- Lucy Whittemore, W. P. Distributor LLC, Everett, Mass.; and
- Liz Xu, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Aiea, Hawaii.
*These re-appointed incumbent members previously served two-year terms from 2014-2016.
The following members will continue serving the final year of their three-year terms on the committee from 2014 to 2017:
- Tiffany Boaldin, Chef, Horton, Kan.;
- Catherine Burns, Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.;
- Carlos Castaneda, Castaneda and Sons Inc., Arroyo Grande, Calif.;
- Helen Dietrich, Ridgeview Orchards, Conklin, Mich.;
- Kristine Ellor, Phillips Mushroom Farms, Kennett Square, Pa.;
- Richard Hanas, A. Duda and Sons Inc., Oviedo, Fla.;
- James Alan Johnson, Carzalia Valley Produce, Columbus, N.M.;
- Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Company Inc., Salinas, Calif.;
- Roland McReynolds, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Pittsboro, N.C.;
- Jorge Vazquez, Latin Specialties LLC, Houston, Texas;
- Thomas N. Williams, Coburn’s, Minnesota; and
- David Yanda, Lakeside Foods, Manitowoc, Wis.
Committee members represent a broad cross-section of the industry, including fresh fruit and vegetable growers, shippers, wholesalers, retailers, industry trade associations, importers, processors, foodservice suppliers, brokers, state departments of agriculture, organic producers and marketers, and farmers markets and food hubs. As representatives of various sectors of the industry, members bring diverse experiences and perspectives to help USDA understand the impact of its programs and how to improve its services.
Originally chartered in 2001, the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee meets up to two times per year to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on issues affecting the fruit and vegetable industry. During the upcoming meeting, committee members will review the status of their previous recommendations to the Secretary and the progress made by current working group members. The working group chairs will provide an overview on previous recommendations developed by their groups and submitted to the Secretary over the last two years. New focus areas as well as a continuation of existing working group topics will be determined at the October 2016 meeting. Previous focus areas include:
- Food Safety/Food Safety Modernization Act issues including outreach, education and implementation recommendations;
- Broadband and rural connectivity issues for farmers markets, small farms, and retailers;
- Pest and disease detection, research and grant funding;
- Port and transportation inspection issues and development;
- Agricultural labor reduction concerns;
- Potential food waste and food desert reduction concepts throughout the industry supply chain; and
- Advocating agricultural-based jobs to potential new farmers, and providing training, mentoring and education.
Due to the amount of research and work that goes into each subject matter area, in addition to the formation of new working groups, there will be time allotted during the two-day meeting for all the working groups to meet separately from the full committee. Subject matter experts may also provide presentations at the meeting, based upon AMS and the committee’s request.
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) guidelines and regulations and how USDA’s GroupGAP (Good Agricultural Practices) audit program for the small farmer relates to FSMA continue to be high priority topics.
The meeting is open to the public and currently scheduled to be held in the Potomac Conference Room at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel, 2799 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Va., 22202.
Individuals interested in submitting written comments related to the fruit and vegetable industry must submit them 10 business days in advance of the meeting date by fax to (202) 720-0016, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals who wish to arrange for special accommodations should contact committee designated federal officer Pamela Stanziani at (202) 720-3334, or email email@example.com.
Additional information on the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee is available online at: www.ams.usda.gov/about-ams/facas-advisory-councils/fviac. Details about the meeting are in the Sept. 7, 2016, Federal Register.