Fresh Thoughts: Now More Than Ever, It’s Time To Work Together


Fresh Thoughts: Now More Than Ever, It’s Time To Work Together

Last week’s NABC and USHBC meetings held in Washington, D.C., provided our industry with the opportunity to rally together on Capitol Hill, discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for the blueberry business, and share our needs and desires with our political representatives.

What a difference a week makes.

By all accounts, it was time well spent and we covered a lot of ground in four short days together.

The timing of our Capitol Hill climb was extremely fortunate. If it had been scheduled just one week later, it would likely have been canceled or postponed due to the current global public health crisis. The important business topics we discussed, the work we accomplished, and the political relationships we initiated would not have happened. 

Today, we’re seeing the widespread impact that the coronavirus is having on our world, country and communities. Everything from travel restrictions to school closures, the NCAA tournament and even my son’s Little League season is being affected. Our office is closely monitoring the ways in which all of this will likely impact our blueberry industry, and how we can best be prepared to serve during this rapidly evolving state of affairs.

I’m very grateful we could meet in-person with board members and industry leaders in Washington, D.C. We accomplished a great deal and I want to thank everyone who made the effort to attend, participate and engage while we were in D.C.

Through our collective efforts, we cast a new vision that emphasizes the importance of collaboration and facilitating innovation to ensure industry success during these challenging times. Based on attendee feedback, I can confidently say that we walked away more united as an industry than when we arrived. That’s a tribute to all of you who embraced the vision and committed to digging in and working through the changing dynamics we face as an industry … together.

As NABC member John Johnston of Driscolls, also a member of the USHBC Promotion Committee, said in response to our post-meeting survey: 

“It was probably the best day we’ve ever had together as members of NABC. We discussed critically important industry issues directly with members of Congress, we lobbied for making July national blueberry month, and we built lasting and personal connections with each other by working in small groups. It will be hard to top this day!”

The above picture shows Sec. Sonny Perdue meeting with members of the NABC at USDA headquarters during last week’s Spring Meetings in Washington, D.C. Sec. Perdue issued a signed proclamation declaring July National Blueberry Month.

Prior to our meetings, I was asked by a grower who wasn’t able to attend our meetings if we could make the extra effort to provide a recap of what was discussed and accomplished during our Spring Meetings. 


As a part of our strategic refresh at NABC and USHBC, our team is totally committed to bringing the news, messages and learning forward for those who weren’t able to attend. 

I hope you take advantage of their hard work – we’ve released a number of press releases (House Introduces Resolution Declaring July “National Blueberry Month”, Senate Introduces Resolution Declaring July “National Blueberry Month”, Refreshed Vision to Move Industry Forward, and Brian Bocock Earns Prestigious Award From NABC ] over the last two weeks to help keep pace with our efforts and activities, with more coming.

In fact, next week, we’ll be releasing a video featuring my keynote address that kicked off our week, highlighting the changes underway, the strategic refresh that was approved by the USHBC board and committees, and the theme of my message:

“USHBC Starts With Us.” – a thought that couldn’t be more timely than it is right now.

Prior to sending our NABC members to Capitol Hill, we spent the afternoon discussing the issues, our policy priorities and providing advocacy training.

Working together, focusing resources and energy, we can work through the challenges and identify the innovation and opportunities to help drive the next “blue wave.” 

In the meantime, stay safe out there and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions, comments or suggestions as we go from here.



P.S. A well-deserved shoutout to Brian Bocock on winning this year’s NABC Alex Wetherbee Award for all he’s done to advance the marketing of the blueberry. Congratulations, Brian! 

NABC Nomination and Awards Committee Chair Art Galletta of Atlantic Blueberry Company presents Brian Bocock of Naturipe with the Alex Wetherbee Award.

Thank You Sponsors!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the folks who made last week’s experience an opportunity that we’ll not soon forget … our sponsors. The support we received allowed us to accomplish more than could have been possible without the commitments that were made – all of the extra touches, the blueberry-themed menus and even the buses to the Hill. Please take a moment to thank the following companies for their commitment and support in helping NABC advance our industry efforts:


Last but not least, I also want to thank my team. For attendees, I’m sure it was obvious that our team was putting every effort possible into making last week a successful and memorable experience. It was a lot of extra effort, and I’m beyond grateful for the dedication that went into the planning and execution of our 2020 Spring Meetings. If you have a moment, please thank Alicia, Julie, Mandy, Rick and Andrea.