In a momentous visit, the Honorable Governor Katie Hobbs engaged in a roundtable discussion at the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas (FPAA) headquarters. With a panel discussion including leaders like Rod Sbragia, Walter Ram, Matt Mandel, JJ Badillo, Jose Antonio Martinez, Kyle McGrath, and James Martin, the Tomato Suspension Agreement (TSA) took center stage along with discussions about ports of entry, staffing, area transportation needs, and more.

Governor Hobbs opened the floor with remarks about the importance of the produce industry and trade. Additionally, Chief Executive Officer Paul Brierley from the Arizona Department of Agriculture (ADA) talked about the important role Nogales plays for the ADA.  The FPAA was honored to have the Governor’s staff, including Billy Kovacs, Will Greene, and Marisol Flores Aguirre actively participating in discussions.

The heart of the dialogue featured insights from industry experts exploring the nuances of the 2019 (TSA). FPAA President Lance Jungmeyer, Executive Vice President Allison Moore and Director of Operations and International Affairs Georgina Felix, added depth to the conversation, emphasizing the important role FPAA members play in providing fresh produce to North America.

The Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority, represented by Chairman Josh Rubin and Past Chairman Jaime Chamberlain, brought valuable perspectives on the TSA and other community needs. The session not only underscored Governor Hobbs’ support for the TSA but also showcased her dedication to addressing local challenges, such as infrastructure and CBP staffing issues.

The Governor’s visit continued with a journey through the center of Arizona’s produce industry, with a tour of the Divine Flavor warehouse. Jose Antonio Martinez, COO and General Manager led a tour through the world of produce logistics and shed light on quality inspections that the industry conducts in coordination with both the Arizona and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Jose Antonio and others discussed the importance of innovation at the ADA in implementing electronic tablets to assist with inspections.  A heartfelt thank you to Jose Antonio Martinez for hosting the insightful tour at Divine Flavor.

Ed Foster and Shau Booker of the ADA emphasized the collaboration between the industry and the ADA in ensuring efficient and effective inspections at area warehouses.

From Divine Flavor, the Governor and her team transitioned to the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales, Arizona, setting the stage for a compelling roundtable discussion.

The Stakeholder Roundtable, moderated by Jaime Chamberlain, the Past-Chairman of the Greater Nogales Santa Cruz County Port Authority, and hosted by Guadalupe Ramirez and Mike Humphries of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) highlighted some of the main issues and opportunities of area groups including the City of Nogales, Santa Cruz County, the banking sector, tourism, mining, and fresh produce.  Some of the key topics were the urgent need for resources to ensure humane services for migrants in border communities, discussions on DeConcini port modernization, customs staffing, and transportation infrastructure funding.

This event serves as a beacon of collaboration, as FPAA and Governor Hobbs align efforts to strengthen the industry, support economic development, and foster a resilient community. Our appreciation is extended to all hosts, speakers, and participants for contributing to this impactful day of dialogue and discovery. Stay tuned for further updates as we continue to navigate the evolving landscape of Arizona’s produce and border infrastructure.