At its upcoming February 19-20 conference at the Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel, the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association will examine today’s most pressing industry issues while also turning an optimistic eye to produce innovation a Shark-Tank style with “Tech Pitch.”
This year marks the fourth annual conference hosted by the CFVGA, and according to a release from Association Executive Director Marilyn Bay Drake, the lively agenda includes presentations from experts on labor and food safety, “both primary topics of concern to Colorado produce growers.” And the event will culminate with Tech Pitch, a competition “showcasing innovations to help the produce industry work more efficiently and to solve some its most pressing challenges.”
Tackling the issue of fair labor practices will be Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Exchange. “Brown was involved throughout the evolution of the Tomato Suspension Agreement, which curtailed the damaging impact to U.S. tomato growers from the dumping of Mexican grown tomatoes on the U.S. market,” the release reminds us.
And Laura Strawn, assistant professor and Extension specialist of produce safety from Virginia Tech, will address “procedures, policies, and practices that produce growers, packers, shippers and processors should implement as preventive measures to reduce the risk of Listeria monocytogenes in their operations.”
Additional speakers are scheduled to talk about water, soil health, organic and conventional disease control, recall readiness and produce marketing.
“In addition, the always popular grower-buyer networking session will take place Feb. 19 from 3-5 p.m.,” the release said. Upwards of 300 attendees are expected at the conference, and this year’s trade show will showcase 35-plus exhibitors and “more than 40 of the most innovative produce growers in Colorado.”
Both Marilyn and Robert Sakata, president of CFVGA, spoke enthusiastically about Tech Pitch. The association, through a selection committee “chose four technology innovators out of a wider field of highly-qualified companies and inventors to participate in a Shark-Tank-type presentation. Innovators who will present at 2:40, Feb. 20, include Augean, with a commercialization of a “Burro” robotic cart that can be programmed to follow a harvest crew and deliver product to a collection point; Impello-Tribus™, with a liquid plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria that serves as a pathogenic inoculator; Tortuga, with robotic harvesting, inventory tracking and data collection enabling precision agriculture; and Visugen, with early detection, on-site water monitoring to comply with FDA regulations
A full agenda can be found at https://cfvga.org/about/.
And for registration information, go to https://cfvga.org. Be advised conference rates go up after Feb. 5.