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Scholarships Send Family-Owned Produce Firms To D.C.

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The International Fresh Produce Association has announced the recipients of the Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program. 

The scholarship provides airfare, hotel and registration for representatives from family-owned businesses to attend the IFPA Washington Conference for the first time.   

This year’s winners are: 

  • Billy Itule, senior management, Willy Itule Produce Inc. in Phoenix; 
  • Amanda Horney, business development, London Fruit in Pharr, Texas;  
  • Marco Ochoa, CFO, Legend Produce in Scottsdale, Arizona; and
  • Camile Matrana, sales representative, Matrana’s Produce in Westwego, Louisiana.

The program was launched in 2001 by Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins of Frieda’s in honor of their mother.  

“We’re proud to empower these incredible leaders to attend the Washington Conference in September,” said Karen Caplan, former CEO of Frieda’s Branded Produce

“This year is especially critical with so much relevant legislation on the docket for the fresh produce and floral supply chain. It is imperative that all industry members are able to come to Washington, hone their voice, and advocate for their business and the industry as a whole at the federal level.”   

Set for Sept. 12-15, the Washington Conference features a number of ways for the scholarship recipients to learn from and engage with congressional leaders, administration officials and industry colleagues.   

The conference brings together hundreds of produce leaders from all sectors of the industry to network, learn and advocate. The education sessions are designed to inform attendees as they learn about how to navigate the political process and pursue their priority issues. 

Among the speakers for this year’s sessions are: U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; U.S. Rep. G.T. Thompson, chair of the House Agriculture Committee; Charlie Cook, an election expert; Mark Moorman, director of the Office of Food Safety at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; and Rob Ahern with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.   

“One of the most important roles these scholarship recipients will play is in sharing their business’ stories and concerns with members of Congress and officials,” said Angela Tiwari, director of grassroots and political affairs at IFPA. 

“These stories are often the most memorable input lawmakers have when considering their votes on issues that impact the industry. We need as many of our industry perspectives represented and are grateful for the Caplan family’s continued generosity in helping this important segment of our members participate.”  

Each year, a scholarship committee reviews applicants for the program using several criteria, including each candidate’s interest in advocacy work and their commitment to the produce industry. 

Registration is currently open for The IFPA Washington Conference.

Read more produce news from The Shelby Report.

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Sommer joined The Shelby Report in January 2022 after graduating from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA with a B.A. and M.A. in Communications and Media Studies. Sommer is excited to learn about the grocery industry and share her findings with The Shelby Report's readers!

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