(Feb. 3) WASHINGTON, D.C. — Trying to put a name with a face, the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association is launching an industry grass-roots action network to give the produce industry a stronger voice in the nation’s capitol.

A new Internet-based program called the United Produce Industry Grassroots Action Network will allow produce industry people to easily contact their elected representatives via regular mail, e-mail or fax.

“For a number of years we have been trying to put a face on the produce industry before our elected leaders,” said Robert Guenther, United’s vice president of government and public affairs.

“It will be a key component in helping us generate a lot of grass-roots response to members of Congress and the president.”

The program, to be provided at United’s Web page, www.uffva.org, will be open to all produce industry members, not just United members, Guenther said.

“When people think of the produce industry, they think of the growers,” Guenther said. The campaign will show the congressional representatives the growers, shippers, brokers, processors, wholesalers and distributors that constitute the industry, he said.

“Our membership is throughout every state in the country,” Guenther said. “This is one way we can help extend the development of the voice and visibility of the industry.”

Among other things, the program will allow users to find their congressional representatives by ZIP code and provide detail on how the representatives voted on produce-related legislation.

The program, which is in its implementation stage, will be unveiled Feb. 21-24 at United’s annual conference and exposition in Long Beach, Calif.