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    United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association To Form Food Security Task Force

    The United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association announced it is forming a new Food Security Task Force to coordinate the industry's overall support for anti-terrorist actions and to ensure the security of an abundant and affordable fresh produce supply.

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association announced it is forming a new Food Security Task Force to coordinate the industry's overall support for anti-terrorist actions and to ensure the security of an abundant and affordable fresh produce supply.

    The task force will bring together representatives from each of United's Policy Councils, who in turn will work with members of the association's Allied Association Council, which includes association representatives from all parts of the North American produce industry.

    Tim Shaheen, CEO, Sun World International, has been chosen to head the new Task Force. He said the force will begin working immediately to examine ways in which the produce industry is likely to be affected by unfolding events. "The war on terrorism that President Bush has outlined will require the full participation of all parts of our industry," Shaheen said. "We have to ensure that our industry has the proper tools to maintain the abundant, safe and affordable supply of fresh produce that Americans enjoy today."

    "In the two weeks since the horrific terrorist attacks in the United States, the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association has found our industry to be greatly affected by these attacks and possible future consequences of our country's new war on terrorism," said United Chairman Fred Heptinstall, Chiquita Fresh North America. "From the disturbing news that terrorists showed interest in crop dusting airplanes to the difficulty of moving perishable produce efficiently and quickly by air, land and sea, we have seen that produce is not immune from the consequences rippling through our economy," he said.

    United President Tom Stenzel said there are many challenges the Task Force will examine, including:
    * Use and safeguarding of agricultural production tools and production areas;
    * Safeguarding of food processing, storage facilities and distribution systems;
    * Import and export procedures to ensure that these safeguards apply to products in cross-border trade;
    * Employment and labor safeguards to keep our mostly migrant labor pool operating successfully for the harvest of U.S. crops.

    "We anticipate that this will not be a short process," Stenzel said. "The Task Force will be asked to develop a list of these and other areas where the war on terrorism may affect our industry, or require special support from our industry. We'll then have to address these and other specific challenges in the months to come. The produce industry will be prepared do its part," he said

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