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The Year Of Transition

President's Message

Monday, June 08th 2020

CGTFL President, Barry Bedwell
CFFA President, ilemay

Welcome to the California Fresh Fruit Association’s website. We hope you find the information here valuable and we encourage you to contact us with any suggestions or questions.

It is with pride that I report that the role of your Association remains just as important today, as it was 84 years ago: To serve as the primary public policy advocate for the fresh fruit growers and shippers of California. It probably goes without saying, but 2019 truly was a year of transition for the California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA). But as I reflect on the year, I am proud to say that we have weathered the storm, righted our ship, rebuilt our crew and set a path which we are determined to follow. Let me pause there for one moment, as I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge my sincere appreciation to our leadership and membership for the opportunity to serve as President of the California Fresh Fruit Association. Nearly five and a half years ago, I sat in Barry Bedwell’s office, discussing my interest in joining the Association team. Through my own interactions with Barry, I had observed the strength of the industry's collective, admired the longstanding history of its member companies, and deeply respected the members who had invested their time, talents and treasures creating an entity that spoke as one voice for the California fresh fruit industry. I saw a place that I wanted the opportunity to be a part of, to build my career at and hopefully, have the opportunity to lead someday. Those five and a half years have flown by and I stand here today more thankful, determined and invigorated to make a positive lasting impact for our industry. As we look back at the last year for CFFA, we see that the top priorities for our membership continued to be oriented around three key topics: Labor, Water and Trade. On labor, CFFA continued to impress upon our elected representatives that Congressional action is needed to ensure a long-term solution toward addressing labor security for the agriculture sector. The Association was pleased to join our industry peers and members of Congress in supporting the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote and now waits to be heard in the Senate. With regards to the California State Legislature, CFFA continues push back against biased rulemaking and legislative attempts to tilt the balance against the employer while ignoring the will of the employee. As it seems like every year, water policy continued to be a top priority for CFFA. In California, the need for long-term water certainty remains the utmost importance for sustaining a viable agriculture economy. CFFA continued to press federal representatives and state representatives working on the biological opinion re-consultation efforts, voluntary agreements and infrastructure improvement efforts that meaningful progress was needed. CFFA also worked with leaders in water to prepare the industry for the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which will be fully implemented in 2020. Throughout the agriculture industry, significant concern remains over how the Act would be governed by the State. Finally, the importance of trade remained front and center throughout the 2019 season. CFFA was supportive of the Trump Administration’s efforts to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), understanding that for many of the commodities we represent, Mexico and Canada remain the number one and two export markets. CFFA Staff also remained engaged with the Administration on the ongoing China Trade Dispute. We were pleased to see both the U.S. Government and the Chinese Government finally come to an agreement over the Phase One Deal and appreciated the opportunity for our Chairman, Randy Giumarra, to be invited to the White House to witness the signing of the agreement. We now hope and continue to work with the Administration to ensure that China lives up to their purchasing agreements. Let me close with a few personal acknowledgements. First to our outgoing Chairman Randy Giumarra, thank you for believing in me and my abilities. For exemplifying leadership in troubled times. For your commitment to our industry, its history and its vibrant future. For all the phone calls, emails, last minute flights to Washington D.C., lunches to talk, and all the unsaid things that you probably are glad to pass on to Kevin as our next Chairman. Thank you for being the leader we needed at this important time. Next, to our staff: Courtney, Caroline, Adam, Allyson, Mary and Perla. If I have said it once, I have said it a million times. We are a team; we are this industry’s team. Thank you for repeatedly rising to the occasion, for buying into a vision and committing yourself to an industry that is worth fighting for. It is a privilege to work with each of you. And finally, to my wife Molly. For all the challenges and transitions that the Association went through this past year, the LeMay Family might have equaled them in our own personal life. Thank you for being by my side through all of it. And to our entire membership, thank you for your continued support and dedication to the Association. The work, the fight and the progress continues. 

Thank you for visiting our site and we sincerely hope that you will visit again soon.