Friday, April 24, 2009 by Bryan Silbermann
PMA leaders visit White House, USDA on economy, sustainability
PMA Chairman of the Board Dave Corsi of Wegmans and I found good reception indeed this week when we visited key U.S. government offices April 22-23 to carry industry messages about economics, food safety and sustainability.
White House domestic policy staff showed great interest in PMA’s new economic impact study, which for the first time documents the industry’s substantial contribution to the U.S. economy. We also discussed nutrition issues at length, including concrete ways to fulfill the administration’s stated goal of increasing fresh fruits and vegetables in the American diet.
At a breakfast meeting with Kathleen Merrigan, we discussed sustainability, as well as how to better connect growers and consumers. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Merrigan even solicited our advice on how to improve use of produce in the USDA cafeteria, so that the department can carry its mission into its own cafeteria.
One of our goals for these meetings was to bring real-world industry experience to Washington, D.C. – in fact, Dave took that mission personally, presenting Ms. Merrigan with heirloom tomato plants from Wegmans’ own Organic Research Farm for the USDA People’s Garden and the White House Kitchen Garden.
We were pleased to be able to advance PMA’s ongoing work in Washington with Dave as we connect the industry with Washington – and particularly happy to talk about issues like sustainability on Earth Day. I’ll be sharing more about our trip later this afternoon here on the PMA Field to Fork blog.