The Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) will be hosting two workshops at their corporate headquarters in Mission, Texas, on Sept. 24. The topics will focus on overcoming labor challenges which is proving to be a key concern in the produce industry. These sessions are available for free for TIPA members, along with Texas Vegetable Association, Texas Citrus Mutual and South Texas Onion Committee members.
The first workshop geared toward Texas growers takes place 9-11 a.m., with the purpose of helping growers successfully navigate the H-2A program to fill labor shortages. Many Texas growers are finding it harder to fill their crews for the season, a trend that has impacted many regions across the country. Growers are turning to the H-2A program to obtain seasonal workers, but there are a lot of details to consider. Attendees can learn the basics about the program, find out how to ensure compliance and avoid common pitfalls and hear about types of training that can create a seamless staffing transition.
Joe Martinez, executive director, Cierto Global – Martinez works with growers on “clean” recruitment, which ensures brand integrity and continuity of supply. Martinez has worked closely with NGOs, the U.S. and foreign governments to address issues related to farmworker recruitment.
Norma Encinas, H-2A program director, Cierto Global – Encinas has worked in the H2-A program for 10 years, successfully processing and delivering more than 10,000 workers to numerous companies throughout the U.S.
Cierto is a certified farm labor contractor that recruits, trains and places experienced agricultural workers from Mexico in farms in the United States with the mission of creating a professional agricultural workforce that is skilled, certified and brings added value to the food supply chain.
The second workshop, geared toward both domestic and international grower-shippers and importers, will be held from 1 until 3 p.m., with the purpose of showcasing how workforce development drives social responsibility and bottom-line results. Attendees will learn the importance of workforce development as a key component to a social responsibility program and how it can positively impact the organization. This includes understanding ties between organizational culture, worker engagement, productive workforce and food safety. The workshop will cover resources to help comply with the Ethical Charter on Responsible Labor Practices.
Kevin Boyle, director, business and new product development, Equitable Food Initiative – Boyle has decades of experience working with large corporations and governments to address major changes within industry supply chains to ensure their ability to continue as high-performing organizations and quality workplaces.
Kenton Harmer, director, certification and impact, Equitable Food Initiative – Harmer directs the multi-stakeholder process that results in the standards, policies and relationships that allow the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) to certify fresh produce under industry best practices.
The EFI label is a sign of assurance that growers, farmworkers and retailers have collaborated to create a culture of continuous improvement that engages everyone in the supply chain to raise the standards for food safety, farmworker communications and production for the consumers they serve.
“We’re excited to bring in these expert speakers who can help our growers learn how to maximize the H-2A program to fill labor shortages and also help both our growers and importers to better understand the importance of workforce development programs to prevent food safety issues while improving overall quality,” says Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of TIPA.
Industry members can register online to attend the workshops, which will be held at the TIPA headquarters located at 901 Business Park Drive, in Mission.