Tell it to The Packer | Letter to the Editor

Tom Karst hit the nail squarely on the head in his editorial column, “PMA, United Fresh should formalize cooperation” on Page A6 of the May 16 edition.

Well said, Tom, and kudos for saying it. I am sure that many agree with you and perhaps many just don’t want to rock the boat by suggesting it.

Sometimes the boat has to rock before it will calm down and find a straight and steady course. I happen to agree with Tom, and although I have made similar comments over the years, never quite as aggressively and as credibly as the national editor of The Packer.

Presently, we at the New York Apple Association support both organizations, we pay our dues, and we attend United Fresh’s Washington Public Policy Conference, PMA’s Fresh Summit and various meetings throughout the year.

At United Fresh, we serve on committees and we participate in policy development, membership expansion and grower educational services.

As a member of PMA we utilize the Produce Electronic Identification Board, many industry resources, and of course the PMA Fresh Summit.

We find both organizations worth our investment and our time or we would not belong.

Presently, they both do what they do well and they serve their members to the best of their abilities.

But the question is, as Tom implies, could we receive the same services by consolidating into one organization? My question is could we reduce our costs? Could one membership fee suffice? Can we one day prevent having to choose which group we can afford?

Both organizations have a mission and goals, but often, as Tom states, they seem to drift over into the other’s camp, and tend to duplicate and try to overshadow one another. Both groups have their strong points.

In a nutshell, United Fresh owns public policy and government affairs and PMA claims marketing and retail resources.

In short, PMA should focus on the marketing objective, while United Fresh should focus on the issues (i.e. labor) that continue to impede bringing produce to the market place.

It seems that the two tasks depend on each other, at ground level.

Coming together to clearly identify the priorities of both groups and the expertise that each has to offer should fine tune the efforts and improve the results.

In today’s economy, we are all under pressure to lower costs while increasing results and productivity.

The consolidation of the International Fresh-Cut Association and United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association is proof that bringing two groups together for the common cause is not only effective but economically responsible to their members.

Tom is spot-on — why not get the ball rolling?

Jim Allen, president
New York Apple Association, Fishers