(Sept. 8) On the afternoon of Sept. 3, more than 250 representatives from the fresh produce industry, divided into 20 teams, marched on Capitol Hill to inform their congressional delegations about a variety of issues.

The march, the highlight of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association’s annual Washington Public Policy Conference, focused on four issues:

  • Country-of-origin labeling. Members urged those in the halls of Congress to ensure that the final regulations of the law, which will go into effect Oct. 1, 2004, do not impose costly and undue burdens on the industry.

  • Expansion of the fruit and vegetable pilot program. Legislators were asked to sponsor a bill to expand the highly successful program to all 50 states.

  • Bioterrorism and Food and Drug Administration regulations. Industry representatives urged lawmakers to listen to the produce industry to make any new regulations efficient and reasonable.

  • The produce bill. Members of the industry asked legislators to sponsor this measure, also known as the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act. The bill would enhance the long-term competitiveness of the domestic produce industry.

The importance of such lobbying efforts by those in the trenches of the produce industry cannot be overstated.

Here’s hoping they soon bear fruit.