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Trade Group Announces Plans for International Asparagus Days

International Asparagus Days is a new international event dedicated to the asparagus supply chain to be held October 16-18, 2018 in the renovated exhibition spaces of Cesena Fiera. It’ll be a collaborative event between asparagus expert Christian Befve and Cesena Fiera, which organizes Macfrut.

The three-day trade fair will involve four initiatives. The first of those will be an exhibition with exhibitors coming from all over the world to be hosted in Cesena Fiera’s pavilions. In addition, it will include a full program of conferences on agronomic, commercial, strategic and technical aspects, to be held in three conference rooms, focusing especially on aspects concerning low environmental impact techniques, such as antagonistic micro-organisms for traditional and organic crops, and varieties. There will also be a series of live field demonstrations, which will take place in an area adjacent to Cesena Fiera. Last but not least, technical tours with visits to major asparagus producers in the Emilia-Romagna region.

The event stems from a partnership between Cesena Fiera and Christian Befve. As an agronomy and sales consultant to many companies in 30 different countries, Befve has three decades of experience in growing this vegetable, so much so that he is internationally recognized as an expert in this field. Luciano Trentini, who is also an asparagus and fruit and vegetable specialist, facilitated the partnership between Cesena Fiera and Befve.

This highly specialized global trade fair arises from an event promoted by Befve five years ago in Bordeaux. Today, this kind of event is much needed, according to its organizers, since there is a lack of opportunities for discussion on this topic, but also because this crop is attracting great interest worldwide.

At present, 210,000 hectares of asparagus are grown around the world, of which 7,500 hectares are cultivated in Italy. The world’s leading asparagus producing countries are Peru and China. Global demand is increasing, and so are prices. The entire supply chain is interested in increasing quality as well as promoting this product on the market more effectively, given the low consumption rate among Italian families, which is just over 40 percent.

The International Asparagus Days addresses the entire supply chain with an event that’s expected to be of particular interest to all stakeholders. Specifically: seed companies, plant nurseries, manufacturers of field processing machines (transplanters, bed formers etc.), including harvesting machines, but also producers of technologies for calibration and warehouse processing, packaging, greenhouses for protected crops and services, as well as distributors and buyers.

Nominations Open for United Fresh Produce Manager Awards

United Fresh is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Retail Produce Manager Awards Program. This program recognizes 25 outstanding retail produce managers for their innovative merchandising, produce-related community outreach, increased store sales and recognition among company peers.

The Retail Produce Manager Awards Program, sponsored by Dole Food Company and now in its 14th year, pays special recognition to produce managers on the front line in supermarkets working every day to increase sales and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

“The ability to creatively merchandise the product, interact with the customers, and oversee the growth of not only the product, but the people within the department, is paramount,” noted Jeff Cady, Director of Produce/Floral at Tops Friendly Markets and Vice Chairman of the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board. “Produce is a vital part of our day to day business, and being able to undertake this and manage it successfully is something we truly appreciate and want to recognize in these individuals.”

Twenty five award winners, along with their corporate produce directors, will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registration to United Fresh 2018, taking place June 25-27 in Chicago. The winners will be honored on Wednesday, June 27, where five grand prize winners will be announced as recipients of an additional $1,000 cash prize.

As one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables, Dole Food Company, Inc., is proud to honor the produce managers who are driven to make a difference in our industry and the communities in which they live. “This is Dole’s fourth year as title sponsor of the United Fresh Produce Manager of the Year Award, and we could not be more proud to be a part of this important recognition program. These men and women do so much to promote the increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and this gives us an opportunity to recognize that contribution and genuinely say thank you,” said Tim Stejskal, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Sales for Dole Fresh Vegetables

Since the program’s inception, more than 300 produce managers from more than 100 different retail banners have been honored. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 program. Nomination forms may be accessed online at www.unitedfresh.org/rma and must be received by Friday January 12, 2018.

For more information about the program, including selection criteria and a list of past winners visit, www.unitedfresh.org/rma, or contact Jeff Oberman, United Fresh Vice President, Trade Relations at joberman@unitedfresh.org or 831.600.8922.

Organic Farmers Association Announces Policy Leadership

Organic Farmers Association, a national membership organization for certified organic farmers, sponsored by Rodale Institute, has announced a new Policy Director and elected the first Policy Committee. This new leadership will facilitate Organic Farmers Association’s policy platform created by certified organic farmer members.

Mark Rokala will serve as Policy Director and lead policy work, under the direction of the newly elected policy committee and coordinating closely with the Organic Farmers Association Director Kate Mendenhall and Steering Committee Chair Jim Riddle. Rokala will be leading work on the farm bill, helping identify Organic Farmers Association farmer members’ policy priorities, connecting members with Congressional leaders, and ensuring that the nation’s federal policies help support thriving independent organic farmers.

Rokala has more than 28 years of experiences in agriculture policy, with 23 of those years working on state and federal agricultural policy. He worked for seven years as a congressional staffer on Capitol Hill and 16 years as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. focusing on agricultural and food policy.

“The Organic Farmers Association is excited to welcome Mark Rokala as our Policy Director,” said Jim Riddle. “Given the proven power of organic production to promote soil health, produce healthy food, and restore rural economic vitality, organic farmers must make our voices heard in D.C. Mark has a great deal of experience working on federal farm policy, and will help members of Congress and federal agencies understand the importance of investing in and protecting organic systems.”

The first elected Policy Committee is made up of 12 voting certified organic farmer members and six advisory organizational members. Committee members are regionally diverse and reflect the national diversity of organic farms. The Policy Committee will facilitate OFA’s policy platform, created by certified organic farmer members. From its start in the fall of 2016, Organic Farmers Association has been working to build and support a farmer-led national organic farmer movement with a strong voice advocating for organic farmers. This first Policy Committee will help guide this work forward from the ground up.

2017 Policy Committee includes:
California Region Farmer Representatives (Voting)
Kenneth Kimes, Greensward / New Natives, LLC, Aptos, California
Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures, Fresno, California
California Region Organization Representative (Advisory: Non-Voting)
David Runsten, Policy Director, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Davis, California
Western Region Farmer Representatives (Voting)
Bob Quinn, Quinn Farm & Ranch, Big Sandy, Montana
Pryor Garnett, Garnetts Red Prairie Farm, Sheridan, Oregon
Western Region Organization Representative (Advisory: Non-Voting)
Kristina Hubbard, Director of Advocacy, Organic Seed Alliance, Missoula, Montana
North Central Region Farmer Representatives (Voting)
Francis Thicke, Radiance Dairy Fairfield, Iowa
Harriet Behar, Sweet Springs Farm, Gays Mills, Wisconsin
North Central Region Organization Representative (Advisory: Non-Voting)
Matthew Miller, Policy Committee Member, Iowa Organic Association, Ames, Iowa
Midwest Region Farmer Representatives (Voting)
Michael Adsit, Plymouth Orchards, Plymouth, Michigan
Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Village Acres Farm & FoodShed, Mifflintown, Pennsylvania
Midwest Region Organization Representative (Advisory: Non-Voting)
Casey Trinkaus, Livestock & Poultry Specialist, The Fertrell Company, Bainbridge, Pennsylvania
Southern Region Farmer Representatives (Voting)
Laura Freeman, Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, Kentucky
Jennifer Taylor, Lola’s Organic Farm, Glenwood, Georgia
Southern Region Organization Representative (Advisory: Non-Voting)
Michael Sligh, Program Director, Rural Advancement Foundation International, Pittsboro, North Carolina
Northeast Region Farmer Representatives (Voting)
Rodney Graham, Oxbow Organic Farm, Hunt, New York
Dave Chapman Long Wind Farm, East Thetford, Vermont
Northeast Region Organization Representative (Advisory: Non-Voting)
Edward Maltby Executive Director, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Deerfield, Massachusetts

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