Last week, I joined 500 produce industry professionals in Washington, D.C., for the United Fresh Public Policy Conference. Two highlights were the march on Capitol Hill and the Fresh Festival.

United Fresh briefed all attendees on some of the most pressing topics and concerns to the produce industry in the United States. With these in hand, we were all dispatched to Capitol Hill in groups of 6 or 8 to meet face to face with our representatives and their staffers to share our issues and concerns.

Key topics included the need for labor; the importance of passing the Farm Bill with the research and specialty crop provisions that are so useful to our growers; and nutrition issues that help get fresh fruit and vegetables to school kids all across the country.

After an afternoon on the Hill, the Pear Bureau was one of a dozen or so companies that had a booth at the Fresh Festival. This is a popular event that brings representatives and their staffers together to sample and take home lots of fresh produce. The event was packed, and at our booth, we sampled about 750 pounds of fresh, ripe Northwest pears in an hour and a half. That is about a pound of pears every 7.2 seconds.

A lot was packed into a three-day event, and I believe we got our points across. These trips to D.C. rarely provide immediate, positive outcomes, as nothing moves fast in D.C. except the subway. However, it is important to keep hammering the messages home, because it is often “out-of-sight, out-of-mind.” We did educate a lot of people about tasty, healthy pears, which did provide positive and immediate satisfaction.

All pears all the time,