Chat – Bryan Silbermann - The Packer

Chat – Bryan Silbermann

10/19/2010 09:58:30 AM
Tom Karst

1:50 p.m. Karst: Is there a double- edged sword in trying to point out the hypocrisy, so to speak, in what EWG is saying? Is there a danger in that it seems the media isn’t perhaps interested in the campaign as the conflict?

1:51: p.m. Silbermann: I think if we bury our heads in the sand as an industry and as public agencies and we say we are not going to set the record straight because we fear it is going to attract attention and controversy, and then we never ever get a chance to set the record straight. That’s going to be one of the themes I am going to talk about in my state of the industry remarks. I feel very strongly about it and I will have more to say about it because that’s typically the way that production agriculture has chosen not to respond to this kind of attack.

It takes me back to 1985, PMA Fresh Summit in San Francisco and I remember Bruce Obbink, was outgoing PMA chairman at the time. Bruce was president of the California Table Grape Commission and stood up and said the industry was going to have to wake up to the concern about pesticides that is growing around the country. That was 1985 and nothing was being said about it. It wasn’t so much that Bruce was legitimizing the issue of pesticide residues, what he is saying was, ‘We as production agriculture want to be on the farm, want to do our own thing, we don’t’ really want to engage in consumer debate. We want to be left alone basically. That’s the nature of farmers and farming. I would say to you that the Alliance for Food and Farming and the work that organizations like Western Growers and ourselves are doing with the alliance is exactly the antidote that is required to that traditional approach, which is hunker down, don’t get involved, don’t try to set the record straight. I think the time for doing that is long gone.

1:55 p.m. Karst: We’ll look forward to hearing more about what you will say in your State of the Industry address. What are you most excited about for the upcoming PMA?

1:57 p.m. Silbermann: It is always a great opportunity to get together with 15,000 plus of your closest friends. For PMA, the show is sold out and we squeezed about a dozen additional booths on to the floor because of the demand so we are busting at the seams. Preregistration numbers are really great and buyer numbers are way up in all categories - retail, foodservice operators, distributors, wholesalers, you name it. So numbers are great, booths are great, and PMA’s international attendance is looking really strong. We have a partnership with the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and we have buyer delegations from more than two dozen countries, everything from Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland, Venezuela and Viet Nam. These are official delegations and we have people from a whole bunch of other countries.

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