(Aug. 11) A new location, new seminars and a new name for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association are in store for attendees at the association’s Sept. 12-15 Washington Public Policy Conference.

What’s not changing is the spotlight on legislative issues that affect the fresh produce industry, from food safety and the Farm Bill, to labor and immigration issues.

The conference marks the formal debut of the United Fresh Produce Association, the result of a merger between United, Washington, D.C., and the International Fresh-cut Produce Association, Alexandria, Va.

A Sept. 12 banquet will celebrate the merger of the two associations. Amy Philpott, United vice president of marketing and industry relations, said the association would have marketing materials, logo and a new Web site at that time.

CONFERENCE DETAILS

The conference will be at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel, a new and larger venue for the event.

In late July, Philpott said registrations for the conference were ahead of last year, with about 135 received as of July 28, compared with 120 registered at the same time last year. Attendance is expected to be about 300, Philpott said.

Confirmed speakers include Steven Anderson, chief executive officer of the National Restaurant Association, Washington, D.C., and Bob Brackett, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the Food and Drug Administration.

In addition, Philpott said several invitations to members of Congress and administration officials have been extended, although United was waiting for confirmation in late July.

Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Fla., House Republican policy chairman, has agreed to speak on Sept. 14. Putnam is scheduled to discuss the House’s legislative agenda for the remainder of the year.

Robert Guenther, vice president of public policy for United, said members of Congress and the administration are scheduled to discuss issues such as immigration, nutrition and the farm bill.

The Fresh Festival, a popular exposition featuring produce exhibits and samples for members of Congress and their staff, has changed to an invitation-only event on Sept. 13.

“We’ve already sold out the exhibit space for that,” she said.

ISSUES

While most years United would try to limit the number of industry lobbying issues to three, Philpott said this year might be an exception.

“There are so many issues that members can be proactive about,” she said listing everything from immigration reform to country of origin labeling, the upcoming farm bill, agricultural appropriations, the WIC food packages proposal, the Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program and specialty crop block grants.

“We really have five or six issues to embrace this year,” she said.