AMI Chair Message
Stephen Anania, Amycel/SpawnMate
I’ve been involved with AMI for more than a decade, in various roles from committee member, committee chair, secretary, treasurer and recently chairman. Through these positions, I have seen first-hand how AMI and its members work in support of the association’s goals and objectives. These include anticipating and responding to issues affecting mushroom production, process ing and marketing; monitoring and influencing legislative and regulatory issues; and supporting, analyzing and disseminating relevant information such as research, statistics and innovations.
As I see it, AMI operates in two very important ways. First, the association allows our collective industry to speak with one voice to all levels of government, the public, suppliers and the media. This is an important function that benefits the mushroom farming community, and this collective representation of the industry gives AMI authority as it presents a view, idea or position. Conversely, AMI is the first line of contact for those who want to reach the industry.
How AMI does this is through the work of its committees. They are the engines that propel our industry forward, and in 2017, these committees – with the help of many dedicated members who volunteer their time and effort – have been able to advance useful programs and initiatives that strengthen our businesses.
Look no further than the Mushroom Employee Safety and Health (MESH) Committee for an example of what happens when representatives from AMI member companies combine their efforts to make the mushroom industry a safe and healthy place to work for all our employees. The MESH Committee made great strides in 2017, from extending the AMI-OSHA Alliance for five additional years to producing materials for ergonomic programs and coordinating CPR/first aid training. Solidifying this relationship with OSHA and developing programs for our employees not only helps to keep our staff healthy, it also helps keep our businesses strong and safe, too.
It’s my belief that the most important accomplishment of the Committee is the meeting held on the third Thursday of each month. At these meetings, participants benefit from discussing best practices, lessons learned from on-farm incidents and injury prevention strategies, while also identifying areas of concern. There is no “one size fits all” safety solution, but high-performing companies say that information from these meetings contribute to their success, and participation in monthly MESH Committee meetings has made a significant positive difference in their companies. I encourage you to consider joining.
The Food Safety Task Force remains active in ensuring all AMI members understand the changing food safety regulations, and are fully equipped to meet the new requirements. This year, the Task Force arranged Produce Safety Alliance Grower Trainings both in Pennsylvania and California, helping companies meet the requirements of the Produce Safety Rule, issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under the Food Safety Modernization Act. If you or someone on your farm were unable to attend, contact Kari Piatt at AMI for a list of available training courses.
The Integrated Pest Management Committee continues the hard work of identifying and prioritizing pest management needs and opportunities. We thank the many AMI members who contribute their time and energy to conduct efficacy trials, pursue registrations and labels, and work closely with stakeholders and regulatory agencies to coordinate efforts that benefit all our grower members.
We’ve made strides in our communications to our members and other audiences. Thanks to the Mushroom News Committee, we’ve expanded the magazine to a digital version and added an E-Flash newsletter to enhance how we communicate. Moving into 2018, we’re beginning the arduous task of redesigning and reworking our website to function better for our membership, but also to better convey the story, needs and initiatives of mushroom farmers.
As 2017 draws to a close, I want to take this opportunity to thank the volunteers who work tirelessly on and with our committees. Thank you for your time, dedication and support. We couldn’t and wouldn’t be successful without you. To those who have not yet joined an AMI committee, I urge you to get involved. The experiences have made me a better grower, business person and ambassador of our industry.
Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous holiday season for your family and business, and I look forward to working with you in 2018 and beyond!