produce industry safety standards will top the agenda at this year’s Joint Tomato
Conference scheduled for Sept. 8-13 in Naples, Fla.
The conference, co-sponsored by the Maitland-based Florida Tomato Committee
and Florida Tomato Exchange, comes before the start of the second year of
mandatory safety inspections of Florida tomato farming operations and
The largest fresh market tomato producing state’s growers, shippers,
repackers, brokers and others are expected to assemble at the Ritz-Carlton
Hotel to discuss pressing industry issues during the 34th yearly industry
Conference organizers plan to address the Food Safety Enhancement Act of
2009, which was being voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives on July
29. The bill would then move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
Additionally, talk about a standardized tomato safety document developed by
the North America Tomato Trade Work Group and other food safety practices
are also on the agenda, said Reggie Brown, committee manager and exchange
executive vice president.
Brown said food safety training sessions for farms and packinghouses
scheduled for Sept. 8 will concern how the regulatory arm of the Florida
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services enforces mandatory
statewide tomato safety standards.
“Hopefully, we’re moving away from the advisory educational program to the
regulatory side,” Brown said. “People have had a year now to be made aware
of the program and requirements for compliance. We anticipate the state to
move towards a more aggressive enforcement position.”
Martha Roberts, University of Florida consultant and former state
agriculture deputy commissioner, is scheduled to discuss tomato best
management practices at the sessions.
During the Sept. 9 Florida Tomato Institute, Brown is scheduled to present
his yearly state of the Florida tomato industry talk. Faculty
from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
will also present tomato-related research results.
The conference also features the Sept. 10 annual meetings of the exchange
and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange.
Samantha Winters, the committee’s director of education and promotion, is
scheduled to present the industry’s planned 2009-10 season promotional
efforts during the committee’s Sept. 10 annual meeting.
Receptions, a dinner-dance and golf tournament are also scheduled.
More information on the conference can be found at Fla. conference Web