Organizers are expecting high attendance for the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference scheduled for Jan. 6-11 in Savannah, Ga.

Southeast grower event to focus on produce traceability

The conference, sponsored by the La Grange-based Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and the Columbia-based South Carolina Peach Council, returns to the Savannah International Convention Center, where growers are scheduled to learn the latest on food safety legislation and the Produce Traceability Initiative.

David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., is scheduled to moderate a Jan. 7 food safety seminar featuring Teri Miller, category manager for Food Lion LLC, Salisbury, N.C., Elliott Grant, founder and chief marketing officer for YottaMark, Redwood City, Calif., and Mark Shuman, general manager of Vidalia onion grower-shipper Shuman Produce Inc., Reidsville, Ga.

Gombas is set to update growers on the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory program.

“This will be David Gombas’ third year at the conference,” said Charles Hall, the Georgia association’s executive director. “The big deal is what this conference has always done and the impact it has always had in the industry in the Southeast, bringing the critical people to the conference to make sure we are getting the information out to the growers.”

Hall said mid-December preregistration was 23% higher than it was at the same time last year for last year’s convention, which drew a record 2,250 attendees.

Participants at the 2011 North American Raspberry and Blackberry Conference, scheduled for Jan. 6 in the same convention facilities, aren’t included in the main conference’s registration numbers. The berry conference focuses on grower production issues.

New at this year’s Southeastern regional show, organizers plan a seminar on how growers can learn how to ensure receiving payment through a seminar on Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act and Dispute Resolution Corp., Ottawa, procedures.

C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., is also scheduled to host a session to help save growers money on trucking. The logistics program is part an agreement the association has with C.H. Robinson on, Hall said.

Other parts of the show include sessions on growing berries, peaches, vegetables and Vidalia onions and organics as well as a silent auction that benefits the association’s scholarship programs and other services it provides to youth through organizations such as the Future Farmers of America and 4-H programs.

Read more about the conference here.