Rift Develops In Produce Industry

Published online: Apr 11, 2003
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It appears a rift is developing in the United States produce industry over the matter of country-of-origin labeling.

A group of 12 vegetable commodity leaders wrote a letter to Bryan Silberman, president of the Produce Marketing Association, for discounting the urgent need for country-of-origin labeling on produce.

PMA added comments to USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s review of the matter stressing that the PMA spoke on behalf of the entire produce industry.

In the letter to Silverman, with Joel Nelsen of the California Citrus Mutual, as the first signature, the group asked why the PMA would continue to support “…a simple, voluntary, nonregulatory approach to country-of-origin labeling.”

The dozen said the PMA asked for “legislative repeal. Certainly you are aware that many of the industry’s most prominent associations and their members favor implementation of mandatory origin labeling rules.”

“Given the clear position in favor of labeling taken by so many groups, PMA should not purport to speak on behalf of the entire supply chain,” the letter to Silverman continued.

“…we are very disappointed with the approach you have taken in this case. PMA should recognize the industry’s diversity and respect the viewpoints and efforts of other industry groups and their members.

“Only then can we regard PMA as a partner in working through this difficult issue in view of the differing opinions within the produce industry,” the letter concluded.

The letter was signed by representatives of: Idaho Grower Shipper Association, Washington State Potato Commission, Western Growers Association, Texas Vegetable Association, Northwest Horticultural Council, Georgia Vegetable Growers Association, Florida Tomato Exchange, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Florida Farmers Inc., and Nelsen’s California Citrus Mutual.