Oct 20, 2010
12:55 PMThe Wind Machine
PMA in Orlando
Over the past weekend, I attended the Produce Marketing Association’s annual convention. Most people attend to advance their firm’s commercial interests. They market, promote, and try to make direct contact with that elusive person, a major retail-chain executive responsible for produce sales.
So why was I in Orlando? I don’t sell or buy product. It wasn’t to attend Disney World or see the sights. My radius of operation was the Orange County Convention Center and the hotel, where I stayed, across the street.
In addition to their more direct and obvious commercial aspects, these modern day fairs bring people together from throughout the country and allow for side meetings and informal conversations related to policy issues of concern to our tree-fruit industry organization. A few personal examples:
● On Friday morning, I attended a Minor Crop Farmer Alliance meeting. MCFA works on pesticide policy issues in Washington, D.C.
● I had lunch one day with Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli of the Center for Produce Safety located at the University of California/Davis. As a member of the CPS’s advisory board, I wanted to check on how things were proceeding with this new industry research-oriented organization.
● While touring the trade show floor, I talked with many exhibitors from the tree-fruit industry of the Pacific Northwest. If someone had a problem or question about the work of the Northwest Horticultural Council, they could discuss the matter with me. And, for me, it provided an opportunity to hear how this year’s harvest was moving to market and to catch up on any personnel changes at the exhibitor’s firm.
● I listened to Dr. Jim Gorney of the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, D.C., the person responsible for developing proposed new food safety rules for the produce industry, at two different convention sessions. Issues such as product testing for human pathogens and how to determine “lot” size for purposes of recalls are a direct concern to our industry and were discussed both at the sessions and in hallway conversations I had with Dr. Gorney.
● Industry association contacts were renewed and strengthened. I exchanged thoughts with such colleagues as Mike Stuart of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Matt McInerney of Western Growers, Joel Nelsen of the California Citrus Mutual, and Scott Horsfall of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. And I saw, perhaps for one of the last times, my good friend Danny Dempster, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association, who retires next year after more than three decades of service to Canada’s fruit and vegetable industry.