LAS VEGAS — Jim Lemke, senior vice president of C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., said the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., will continue to help growers and their customers work better together.

Lemke took the role of chairman of United Fresh at the association's 2009 conference April 22-24.

Lemke said traceability will continue to be a priority for the association, which is a co-sponsor of the Produce Traceability Initiative, along with, the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del., and the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, Ottawa.

The fresh produce industry cannot continue to tolerate how the U.S. government deals with outbreaks of pathogens in the marketplace, he said.

"The way our government handles outbreaks is truly broken," Lemke said. "We need to move from theoretical solutions to practical ones."

The traceability initiative requires input from all sectors of the fresh produce chain, Lemke said. The association's market segment boards will play key roles in the search for solutions, he said.

"The association's structure gives a voice to every segment of the food chain," Lemke said.