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Although he describes his year as chairman of the United Fresh Produce Association as a blur, Ron Midyett did pause a couple of times to enjoy the successes in hard-fought battles.
“It went really, really fast. It was a terrific blur,” said the chief executive officer of Apio Inc., who’s been back at his regular job full-time since passing the United Fresh reins to Ron Carkoski on April 22.
Midyett said he knew what he was getting into when he stepped into the role of chairman of the board for United Fresh in 2013 because he’d been on the board since 2008. He said United Fresh president and CEO Tom Stenzel does a good job prepping incoming chairmen and chairwomen, so he didn’t meet with any surprises during his term.
Federal immigration reform was at the top of Midyett’s priority list as chairman.
“It looked like the stars were lining up and there was going to be resolution,” he said recently. “I am very grateful that I got to see the Senate pass its reform measure. That was monumental and a great framework for continued progress on the topic.”
Another high priority for Midyett was the Food Safety Modernization Act and proposed rules from the Food and Drug Administration related to it. He said one of his greatest pleasures during his year as chairman was seeing the United Fresh membership and the fresh produce industry provide meaningful comments on the proposed rules that made FDA officials pause for thought and agree to make revisions.
“Without the number of comments and the science and common sense those comments represented I can’t imagine what would have happened,” Midyett said. “We were what made FDA pause. We had to educate them, and we did.”
From his view within the association, Midyett said some of his favorite sites from 2013 were the record attendance set at the annual trade show and the donation of so many salad bars to schools in California as that show unfolded.
“I think it is also significant that we reached the three-year agreement with FMI to co-locate the shows,” Midyett said. “That will be good for both organizations and their members.”
He said the completion of the United Fresh strategic plan and the passage of the farm bill are also on his fondest memories list from his year as chairman.
“We not only got a farm bill passed with specialty crop funding intact, (but)we got them to grow that support $4 billion over 10 years.”