U.S. Congressman Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) announced that he will not seek reelection in 2012, opting instead to “energetically continue [his] efforts to improve California as a private citizen.” A member of the House Agriculture Committee and a long-time advocate of the fresh fruit and vegetable industry that comprises a large portion of his Central Valley district, Rep. Cardoza has been a frequent speaker at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference and is a recipient of the United Fresh Congressional Leadership Award.

“This is certainly a bittersweet day for those of us in the fresh produce industry fortunate enough to work alongside Rep. Cardoza. He has been a tireless champion for the fresh produce industry, and a great friend and ally, not just to the industry in California’s Central Valley, but also nationwide,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO. “He has been a tremendous asset for our industry and we wish him all the best in retirement.”

“Congressman Cardoza has been a wonderful voice for the produce industry on Capitol Hill, working to focus his fellow lawmakers’ attention on fruits and vegetables and other specialty crops, and include these sectors as vitally-important parts of U.S. agriculture,” said United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther. “His policy efforts on pest and disease, research, conservation and state block grants have yielded countless success stories for growers across the country, and we are grateful to call him a friend of United Fresh and of the industry.”