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    UFFVA to Launch Produce Industry Grassroots Action Network

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. - United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association will launch a new internet-based government advocacy program -- the United Produce Industry Grassroots Action Network -- at its Annual Produce Business Conference and Expo, Feb. 21-24, 2003, in Long Beach, Calif.

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. - United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association will launch a new internet-based government advocacy program -- the United Produce Industry Grassroots Action Network -- at its Annual Produce Business Conference and Expo, Feb. 21-24, 2003, in Long Beach, Calif.

    "The produce industry has never had a stronger voice in Washington, D.C. than today," said United president Tom Stenzel. "Yet, the key to even greater power is to stimulate the personal involvement of thousands of produce industry members to interact directly with their members of Congress and other national policy leaders. Our new grassroots action network will make it easy for anyone in the industry to let Congress know how they feel on key issues important to their business," he said.

    The association hopes to mobilize thousands of members to urge their government representatives to increase funding for nutrition education and 5 A Day, develop sound food safety policies, and implement fair regulations that enhance our business rather than restrict our success, said United chairman of the board Steve Grinstead, Standard Fruit and Vegetable, Dallas, Texas.

    The network will include immediate online access through United's website, www.uffva.org, which will provide the tools members need to get more involved.

    The network is being sponsored by Torrey Farms and Paul Marshall Produce.

    "While many associations have made this type of system available to members-only, United has decided to open the United Produce Industry Grassroots Action Network to all users across the entire industry in order to maximize its impact on the national public policy process," Stenzel said. "Our member companies will likely be the most active users at first, but our long-term goal is to identify and reach every individual whose business and livelihood is affected by Congressional action on produce issues. That means everyone from growers to warehouse and field staff; processing line employees to truck drivers, retail produce clerks to nutrition educators -- anyone who can take five minutes to tell their Member of Congress why a produce issue is important to them. At the end of the day, we've got to put a personal face on the produce industry in every Congressional district across the country, not just our traditional agricultural growing areas," he said.

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