National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

Before it is too far in the rear view mirror, I'll review some helpful links from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Outlook Forum.

For as much as the event gets slammed by some in the fresh produce arena for its commodity-heavy agenda, this year was different. The rare opportunity to hear a top produce executive from Wal-Mart was one huge plus. I see our coverage of that speech by Dorn Wenninger, vice president of  produce and floral for Walmart, Bentonville, Ark., on local procurement has already attracted nine reader comments. By the way, Associated Press style is "Wal-Mart," though the company's own business cards (and stores) say "Walmart." Go figure.

James Bailey III, the director of federal government  relations for Wal-Mart, Washington, D.C.,  and Theresa Wang, senior manager of federal government relations, for Wal-Mart, were also on hand with Wenninger.

Though everybody has a gripe about Wal-Mart, Wenninger dropped a few facts that screamed "scoreboard."  Wal-Mart now has over 4,000 stores in the U.S. and $274 billion in  sales for fiscal year 2013. The chain added $10 billion in U.S. sales last year with a 3.9% growth rate. Check out the pdf of Wenninger's presentation here.

That brings to mind a question I posed to the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group,

How have the mechanics of buying and selling produce at shipping point changed over the last 20 years?

I guess I should have had "Wal-Mart" as one of the answers. Check out the poll and give me your thoughts....


More helpful links from the USDA Ag Outlook event:

Costco and the food safety revolution

Weather outlook for the 2013 growing season

WTO Brazil Cotton case: how does this end?

Global perspective on agriculture's next five years

Food price inflation for 2013

CSPI views on produce safety rule

Giclas presentation on produce safety rule

FMI presentation on produce safety

Showcasing local foods: Michigan State University presentation

USDA: farm to school accomplishments

Specialty crop block grant program in Penn.


That's the bulk of it, but find the complete agenda and other presentations here.