2013 OPGMA Congress
State’s Produce Industry Gathers at OPGMA Congress to Share Business Solutions
Annual Convention & Marketplace Offers Education, Trade Show, and Networking
Nearly 800 attended the 2013 OPGMA Congress this week in Sandusky, Ohio. This 2.5-day convention and marketplace brought together produce growers and marketers to share ideas, find products and services to help their business, and network with colleagues.
Industry suppliers from across the country exhibited at the 100-booth trade show to showcase the latest in produce varieties, equipment, products, and services. Attendees saw some of the latest innovations designed to help businesses grow and become more profitable.
Food safety and our industry’s responsibility to ensuring safe food was a priority at this year’s OPGMA Congress. Ten sessions were offered that shared GAP best practices, common food safety issues and farm deficiencies, environmental testing, managing listeria survival in agriculture environments, certification through the Ohio Produce Marketing Agreement, and an update from U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) representatives on the proposed food safety rules that will affect the industry.
In addition, 40 sessions were offered on topics like tree fruit, vegetable production, pest and disease management, small fruit, merchandising and marketing strategies, and business management.
A new feature at this year’s OPGMA Congress was a merchandising hands-on workshop on the trade show floor. Merchandising expert Joe Baer of Zen Genius shared merchandising basics and tricks to create displays that really sell. Additionally, the elements, best practices, and strategies to organize a point of purchase signage program were provided to assist farm markets and other produce retailers.
Mike Hirsch, OPGMA president and co-owner of Hirsch Fruit Farm in Chillicothe, Ohio, said, “The OPGMA Congress is an opportunity for Ohio’s produce growers and marketers to gather under one roof to share ideas to grow our businesses and the industry. We are thankful for the support of our members, industry vendors, and volunteer planning committees for making this event successful.” Four industry professionals were elected to the OPGMA board of directors. Mike Hirsch, Hirsch Fruit Farm, Chillicothe, Ohio; Kerry Sullivan, Jacquemin Farms, Plain City, Ohio; and Julie Witten, Witten Farm Market and Greenhouses, Beverly, Ohio, will serve a three-year term. Mark Stokes, Dale Stokes Raspberry Farm in Wilmington, Ohio, will serve a one-year term. Hirsch was elected from the board to serve as president; Ken Holthouse, Doug Walcher Farms, North Fairfield, Ohio was elected vice president; and Sullivan was elected secretary/treasurer.