The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas Spring Policy Summit will include presentations on possible U.S. infrastructure changes, inspections at the U.S.-Mexico border, and food safety standards across Canada, Mexico and the U.S.
The event is March 20-21 in Tubac, Ariz., where industry members can talk with regulators about the laws that apply to their businesses.
Companies can give perspective on challenges certain regulations might present and suggest alternatives that still achieve the objectives.
“That’s kind of a theme of the event is how do we help each other,” said Lance Jungmeyer, president of Nogales, Ariz.-based FPAA.
“We want to help the regulators regulate the product effectively, and we hope that they want to help us not add extra, unnecessary costs to the business, and so if we can help each other, we’re helping obviously the cost of food in the country and keeping America well fed.”
The North American Free Trade Agreement, which is being renegotiated, will also be the focus of an education session at the event.
Attendees will also hear about Unified Cargo Processing, a program that is reducing crossing times by enabling joint inspections for certain trucks. In addition to improving the process for individual vehicles, the program can benefit a whole port of entry.
“As a result of the crossing times being lower, you have fewer trucks sitting in line at the border waiting to cross, and as a result of that you have fewer emissions,” Jungmeyer said.
He said shippers might consider that element when deciding where to cross.
“If you’re a produce company and you’re dealing with Walmart — and Walmart has a sustainability index — and Walmart says, ‘Well, we want you to do X, Y and Z to be better for the environment,’ this gives you something else to take to Walmart and demonstrate, ‘Well, I cross my produce here, and this helps me reduce my supply chain emissions by X amount,’” Jungmeyer said. “That’s important to Walmart.”
The FPAA will have another event later in the spring, the Southern Arizona Sustainability Expo on May 17 in Nogales.
Among the activities there will be panels on solar power, automation, waste reduction, sustainable packaging, recycling and transportation.
Sustainability measures can be beneficial for companies looking to meet consumer expectations as well as those aiming to lower operating costs, so the FPAA looks to use the expo to connect such companies with providers of sustainability solutions.