Don Needham, Fastrak Express, Inc.
In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the American Mushroom Institute (AMI) continued to focus on initiatives to support and enhance the mushroom industry by bringing members together to tackle common challenges. These initiatives contribute to enhancing the member’s experience in line with the mission: AMI is a resource center dedicated to acting as the unified voice of the U.S. mushroom industry by bringing our member businesses together to provide resources and increase knowledge on policies, research, education and training programs.
To honor Sara Manning’s career accomplishments she received a fitting tribute when the Community Awareness Committee renamed its schoolarship program the Sara Manning Scholarship. Further, Sara received the Krallinger Friend of the Industry Award and the Friend of Penn State Award at the Penn State Short Course in October.
Mushroom News continues to be published each month, and this year the AMI staff rolled out the electronic version of the magazine, which is available to supplement or replace the printed issue you receive each month. If you’d like to sign up to receive the electronic version or update any of your subscription information, call the AMI staff in Avondale at 610-268-7483 or email [email protected] americanmushroom.org.
After many months of deliberation, the AMI Board of Directors voted in November to move forward with the purchase of the office building at 1284 Gap Newport Pike in Avondale, PA. The Board believes that this investment was a prudent financial decision that will benefit the association now and into the future. In December, Kari Piatt joined the AMI staff as an administrative assistant in the Avondale office.
The Mushroom Farmers of Pennsylvania (MFPA) sponsor and participate in many events throughout the year, but none are larger or better attended than the annual PA Farm Show held each January in Harrisburg. At the 101st Farm Show, the MFPA Committee once again provided a major sponsorship presence that included a booth staffed by over 50 volunteers from AMI member companies. The mushroom booth was well received and the giant, inflatable MushRoom has become a landmark to rival the butter sculpture for visitors throughout the eight-day event.
Also in January, the AMI Board of Directors held a Board meeting in conjunction with a Mushroom Council meeting in San Diego, CA. The AMI staff took the opportunity to visit several AMI members in California, touring Monterey Mushrooms and Fitz Fresh in Watsonville; Amycel/Spawn-Mate in San Juan Bautista; Countryside Mushrooms in Gilroy; and Mountain Meadow in Escondido. Thanks to these and other AMI members who have hosted farm tours for public officials, researchers, other ag associations and students over the past year.
The Mushroom Employee Safety and Health (MESH) Committee is operating under a new name this year after being known as the AMI-OSHA Alliance since its establishment in 2008. This name change came about because the Committee sees its role as not limited to OSHA-related safety measures, but encompassing a broad mandate of all things safety related that occur on mushroom farms and ancillary businesses. The MESH Committee offered six sessions of First Aid/CPR training in June through a grant administered by the Chester County Economic Development Council. The Ergonomics subcommittee of the MESH Committee will also offer an ergonomics program in the fall, which will include train-the-trainer sessions and hand outs on stretching exercises tailored specifically for the ergonomic conditions of the mushroom industry.
The Food Safety Task Force met periodically throughout the year and continued to actively monitor the status of Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)-related regulations as well as other food safety activity emerging from Washington, D.C. AMI and Penn State offered several FSMA produce grower certificate training sessions in June and July in ChesterCounty, PA. Stay tuned for an announcement from the AMI staff on a time and location for this training session on the west coast.
Other AMI committees were also active throughout the year. The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Committee worked to source and secure new pesticides for use on mushroom farms. The Human Resources (HR) Task Force brought in experts on a variety of HR-related topics for its bimonthly meetings and will continue to do so over the next year. Contact the AMI staff to join the HR Task Force email list if you’re looking for information on workers’ compensation, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), aging in the workforce or other labor–related topics.
When this report is published, my term as chairman will have drawn to an end. Over the last 36 months, it’s been both an exciting and challenging time for our association. Despite those challenges we have stuck together and focused on our mission. Please join me in providing support to incoming AMI Chairman Stephen Anania as he seeks to continue the good work coming out of our offices in Avondale
and Washington, D.C.