The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) held its annual Spring Policy Summit on April 21st -23rd. The selection of panelists covered some of the most important topics for the fresh produce industry including the current relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, sustainability trends in fresh produce and the latest on improving barriers to trade.
Day 1 of the summit featured Kenneth Smith, former lead NAFTA negotiator for Mexico and current partner with AGON. Smith focused on discussing changes in Mexican policy and collaborations between the U.S. and Mexico that could positively impact the fresh produce industry. This session also featured Britton Mullen, president of the Border Trade Alliance and principle with Clarke Consulting. Mullen focused her presentation on the USMCA and the transition from the last Administration to the current Administration and what the produce industry could expect moving forward.
In honor of Earth Day, Day 2 of the summit was centered around sustainability. Jim Mullen, chief administrative and legal officer at TuSimple, a technology developer of autonomous trucks, and former deputy chief for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, started the session discussing the relationships between transportation and sustainability. Mullen discussed the latest technology developments for the TuSimple autonomous trucks and how this has a positive impact in our environment. Current FairTrade USA chairman Ricardo Crisantes from Wholesum, a company who works in responsible growing and sustainable operations, discussed the sustainable practices that are part of Wholesum. He also talked about the benefits for the company, its employees and its other stakeholders.
For the closing day, the University of Arizona (UA), Rogers College of Law, joined FPAA for a session discussing trade cases and technical barriers to trade. The session included a review of the report Inspections and Non-Tariff Barriers on “Perishable Imports” at the Mexico-US Border: Legal Limits and Best Practices, a TradeLab report. This session featured UA law students Derek Brewer, Brien Brockbank, Leon Kuntz, Tusa Rutherford and Ekaterina Shkarbuta, as well as teaching fellow Lauren Robbins and Professor Sergio Puig. The discussion also provided updates on the trade cases currently happening and possible steps forward in addressing technical barriers to trade between the U.S. and Mexico.
“We always aim to bring discussions that are realistic, yet willing to challenge the status quo to find the best way forward for the industry,” said Lance Jungmeyer, FPAA president. “Knocking down technical barriers to trade will be a key challenge for agriculture in the coming years.”
The FPAA will also launch a new webinar series featuring a guest speaker each month. The series will cover a wide range of topics related to the fresh produce industry including community development, professional development and updates on policy and trade.