Shutdown disrupts WPPC eventsWASHINGTON, D.C. — The government shutdown that began midnight Oct. 1 has caused more disruptions to the agenda of the Sept. 30-Oct. 2 United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference.

In an e-mail to WPPC participants on Oct. 1, United Fresh president Tom Stenzel the association was forced to cancel the March on the Senate Oct. 2 because of numerous cancellations. He said the White House has told United Fresh that Let’s Move Executive Director and scheduled WPPC speaker Sam Kass will not be allowed to attend due to the shutdown. A planned Oct. 2 visit by WPPC attendees to the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Maryland has been scrapped because of the government shutdown.

However, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Mike Taylor will appear at the event Oct. 2.

“Although he was not scheduled to speak at our FDA Forum, the other scientists have been caught in the shutdown and are not allowed to be working,” Stenzel said in the e-mail.

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., was slated to speak Oct. 2, Stenzel said, but the WPPC closing luncheon session has been cancelled and food from the event will be donated to food banks, Stenzel said.

The government shutdown forced the relocation of the Oct. 1 WPPC Fresh Festival from the Rayburn House office building to the Hyatt Regency near Capitol Hill.

While WPPC attendees were able to meet with some House of Representative lawmakers Oct. 1 in its grassroots advocacy event “March on the Hill,” other meetings were cancelled.

WPPC attendees did hear remarks from Senate Agricultural Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in addition to Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s horticulture subcommittee, and Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee horticulture subcommittee.

The WPPC agenda also featured education sessions Oct. 1 focusing on food safety, labor issues and school foodservice demand for fresh produce.