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AMI chairman's year end report.

I'm pleased to report that it has been a busy and successful year for the American Mushroom Institute. The diligence and dedication of AMI members and our committees have led to another great year and I'd like to take a few minutes to share some the highlights.

In February the international mushroom community gathered in San Diego, California for the 19th North American Mushroom Conference. A record number of sponsorships and high levels of attendance helped to make this one of the most successful conferences we've ever had! Over 300 people attended the conference, which included exhibitors and speakers from around the world.

Two days of business sessions, a dinner cruise around San Diego Bay and the "MushRoom" exhibit were just some of the highlights. This was an ideal chance to learn about the newest innovations, plan for the future of our industry and re-connect with old friends and colleagues.

Murray O'Neil led us through the history of the NAMC and Ralph Noble gave an insightful presentation as the Andrew O'Neil Memorial speaker.

Other speakers included Liz Sloan who presented dozens of marketing opportunities, and a panel of food safety experts who provided timely and practical advice on prevention and crisis management techniques. Also serving as conference speakers were many of our industry colleagues, including Carla McKinney, Joe Caldwell, Chris Alonzo, Greg McLain, Frank Moscone, Arpad Mutsy, Craig Anderson, Ray Samp, Bart Minor, Bill Stevens, and Greg Seymour.

Special thanks go to the conference planning committee, especially our chairman, Jim Angelucci, for volunteering their time and expertise. Thanks also to our sponsors for their help and support. The end result was an outstanding conference with a profit margin allowing AMI to hold membership dues rates at last year's level.

As always, our Committee structure continues to bring focus to our activities throughout the year. In the IPM area, renewals for the Section 18 registration for Topsin were successful in California, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Oregon. Colorado also received permission for use this year.

Cyromazine is the only pesticide up for re-registration this year, but we will monitor any changes to pest regulations including a potential revision of the Worker Protection Safety Standards.

Imazalil, a fungicide shown to be effective against green mold, is undergoing continued testing. IR-4 is in the process of trials and gathering the data required to move this chemical toward registration and availability to mushroom growers.

The IPM Committee and Penn State have been active with an insecticide screening project funded by AMI. With recommendations from IR-4, 12 insecticides were tested with Venum, Poncho and Avant showing promising results. Further testing is being planned.

AMI also funded a cropping study at Penn State looking at various fungicides to control verticillium. Again, these results look promising.

We have also taken on the responsibility for the AGORA Web site on behalf of the Mushroom Council. This is where you can find pesticide information, including current labels, MSDS information and relevant articles from the Mushroom News. If you're not signed up for Agora, see Kim from the AMI staff while you're here.

AMI was able to participate in a number of meetings and seminars in conjunction with Penn State and the University of Delaware. In September, AMI helped organize the 2nd International Spent Mushroom Substrate Symposium.

The symposium was held in memory of Dr. Paul Wuest who organized the 1st International Spent Mushroom Substrate Symposium. His hard work and dedication to the mushroom industry never wavered throughout his long and distinguished career at Penn State. During the three day symposium, held in Concordville, PA, researchers from around the world gathered to share their data and participate in a tour of local SMS sites. A CD containing the papers presented at the symposium is currently available. Please contact AMI if you're interested in purchasing one.

This past December, AMI, Penn State and the University of Delaware organized and hosted a one-day mushroom review workshop for growers and supervisors. The topic of this workshop was "Managing the Indoor Environment and Mushroom Crop."

In an effort to support granting a scholarship this year, the AMI made a $3,000 donation to the Sinden Scholarship Committee. Hopefully, this fund will again support qualified graduate students that will become future leaders in the mushroom industry.

The Mushroom News is the one communication tool that AMI uses to reach every member. A lot of time and talent goes into creating the magazine. I want to thank and acknowledge Mushroom News Publisher, Bill Barber, members of the Editorial Board and News Committee for guidance on appropriate material, suggesting topics, reading manuscripts and offering editing suggestions.

Advertisers also play an important role in keeping the issues colorful and informative. Without their support, we could not publish Mushroom News. Thanks to Sara Manning, Editor and Lew Rossi, Art Director, who keep the magazine fresh, useful and newsworthy.

The Community Awareness Committee (CAC) has been busy working on issues that affect the Southeastern Pennsylvania mushroom farm community. CAC organized PA Governor Rendell's visit to the Mushroom Festival in September to present the proclamation for mushroom month and worked with PA Department of Agriculture officials on mushroom events at the Farm Show.

Recently, CAC sponsored a reception for new legislators and township supervisors in Harrisburg. Committee members also visited with Congressman Joe Pitts in his Unionville office to discuss immigration reform and the 2007 Farm Bill.

CAC is moving ahead with the public relations program outlined last year. CAC created a new logo and launched a Web site to highlight the contributions of local mushroom farmers. Several mushroom families are highlighted and a list of misconceptions is posted to combat rumors. A post card with information about the Web site along with a coupon for a free box of mushrooms and a recipe booklet is distributed to new residents through a Welcome Neighbor home visit.

CAC's support of the Avon Grove little league garnered positive press coverage and the signs and banners on the field credit the mushroom growers of Chester and Berks counties for their generous donation.

CAC's SMS grant committee continues to pursue outlets for SMS/mushroom compost and works with researchers, state officials and township supervisors to get the word out on the many beneficial uses for the product. The committee is working with the PA Department of Environmental Protection to eliminate the requirement of a General Permit for mushroom compost.

New brochures on applying mushroom compost to corn, hay and landscaping and lawns are now available. Research by Penn State's Dr. Michael Fidanza is published in the brochures to show the essential plant nutrients and the relative value of fresh mushroom compost to commercial fertilizers. New studies are underway for a variety of crops including pumpkins, berries, tomatoes, apples and summer vegetables. Brochures for these crops will be designed and printed when the research is finished.

An experimental star wheel separator to remove trash from mushroom compost is under construction. The committee works with Dr. Don Davis, also of Penn State, as he develops research on fresh and weathered SMS to control artillery fungus in landscape mulch. The group continues to explore energy applications and mine reclamation possibilities.

In Washington, DC, the AMI staff continues to monitor immigration reform and work with the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR) to help implement legislation that will benefit the mushroom industry. The most recent action on immigration reform has come from the Senate which has debated a bipartisan compromise for several weeks. Comprehensive immigration refers to legislation that would address all aspects of the immigration issue including, border security, internal enforcement, what to do with undocumented immigrants that are already in the U.S., and a guestworker program.

The House is expected to address immigration reform later this year.

In other legislative news, Congress is in the process of rewriting the Farm Bill. Collaborating with a specialty crop coalition, AMI is working on the provisions that will impact the mushroom industry including conservation programs, research and Specialty Crop competitiveness grants.

Addressing a very timely topic, AMI hosted a Food Safety Task Force workshop in Wilmington, DE a month ago. Representatives from the major packing houses and farms from around the country gathered with researchers and experts to analyze and discuss existing food safety standards as well as next steps in the development of an industrywide food safety plan. Additional meetings and workshops are being planned. I ask you to stay tuned for further information and to do your part to get involved in this vitally important issue.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helps to make the smooth operation of the American Mushroom Institute possible. Continuing to manage the daily activities of AMI are Sara Manning, located in our Avondale office, Laura Phelps and Kim Siebecker, our DC staff, and our law firm, McLeod, Watkinson & Miller.

I would especially like to thank the AMI membership for another great year! We all realize that it is your commitment to the industry and this organization that determines its success. Your insights and hard work are greatly appreciated, and I sincerely hope that you will continue to remain actively involved in AMI activities.

Pete Gray

AMI Chairman

Presented at Penn State's 49th Mushroon Industry Conference, June 2007

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Title Annotation:ami update; American Mushroom Institute
Author:Gray, Pete
Publication:Mushroom News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2007
Words:1637
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