NWA Convention Kicks-off 2022 with Sweet Notes

The 107th National Watermelon Association Convention & Annual Meeting was held in late February in Downtown Nashville, TN.  With a very good turnout in attendance, the support and love shown for the Association helped to make up for the missed convention in 2021 due to the coronavirus.  From start to finish, music led the way as we shared fellowship, networked, conducted business, greeted old friends, made new ones and enjoyed being together once again.
Bob and his team are so appreciative of everyone’s support and involvement.  Our members truly make this a family get-together, which is what we call (internally) our Annual Watermelon Family Reunion.  Thank you all for coming, for getting involved, for your support, and for being members of this great Association.  You are the reasons why we do what we do each and every day.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve. 
The Special Issue (e-blast) that was sent out earlier this week captures many of the pictorial highlights.  You can look at over 2500 pictures from the convention on your website,  The memories continue to be made every year by our Watermelon Family.
As we turn the page and look forward we set our sights on the coming domestic harvest and shipping season, and the unknown challenges that we will face and address ahead.  During that time we will also begin our plans for your next stop in the ever-growing memory books – the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina next February.  Cherish the memories, and plan to make new ones along the way.   God Bless you all!   


Here is Your Invitation:  FSPCA – PCQI Training
NWA Partners with Ag Safety Lady & Frey Farms

In cooperation with Kiley Harper-Larsen, owner of The Ag Safety Lady, and our friends at Frey Farms (Keene, Illinois), the NWA is extending an invitation to you to participate in a PCQI certification course that includes training on HACCP’s 7 principles and 12 implementation steps for up to 15 people.  The class, titled “FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food for the Watermelon Industry + HACCP Coordinator Review“, will assist an organization in meeting its legal FDA requirements to have a qualified individual (PCQI) if the organization handles, packs or repacks on any given day more than 51% of product that is not grown by the organization or if the organization processes any covered food item regulated by this FSMA rule.
Kiley will lead a VIRTUAL but interactive training session (via ZOOM) across two days from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm each day. Dates in April and early May are listed below.
The course will NOT include full International HACCP Alliance certification with gold seal, but it will meet the requirements of PrimusGFS v3.2 audit questions 6.01.02 and 7.01.02.  Both questions state that an organization’s HACCP and Preventive Controls Coordinator training is acceptable if it includes the following: “Preventive Control Qualified Individual (PCQI) training can also be accepted, as long as it is equivalent to the International HACCP Alliance training (covers the 7 Codex Alimentarius HACCP principles and the 12 HACCP implementation steps).”  This certification also helps fulfill new audit requirements for being the formal on-site, qualified food safety coordinator for a facility. The course agenda showing times and topics covered must always accompany the certification to be acceptable by a PrimusGFS auditor.
Each participant will get an electronic (Adobe PDF) Preventive Controls for Human Food manual and copy of the instructor’s HACCP Coordinator Review presentation emailed to them one day prior to the scheduled course.
We wish to assemble a large group to make this a cost-effective approach and to base the class solely on watermelons.  Once the class is completed, each student will receive PCQI certification with unique AFDO number as well as access to a folder with PCQI, HACCP, audit and food safety resources.
If we can get a class of 15-25 together, Kiley can do it for $900 a participant. The maximum is 25 students per class (FSPCA rule). A class of 10-14 is $1,250 each.   And a class of 5-10 people is $1,400 each.   And, if turnout exceeds capacity, Kiley can schedule more dates.  Please note: courses will be canceled and/or rescheduled three days prior if less than 5 people are registered.
The dates that are available are:
April 29 - April 30
May 2 – May 3
May 5 – May 6
Sign-ups are now open to all NWA members.  To register, please send the following info in an email to Kiley Harper-Larsen via [email protected] to secure your seat:
1. each participant’s first and last name
2. company name mailing address including number with street name or PO Box, city, state and zip code
4. email address for each participant,
5. company food safety contact preferred email address,
6. participant cell phone number,
7. company phone number.
The NWA will be pleased to handle the paperwork and invoicing for Kiley.  Time is of the essence, so please reserve your seat today.  Thank you very much.
Click on the tabs below to learn more about Kiley and the Course Work.
Your Lead Instructor


Legal Pathways for H-2A Program Expanded

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to expanding legal pathways to the United States as a part of a comprehensive strategy to address irregular migration.  The Administration is particularly focused on the expansion of labor pathways for nationals of the Northern Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras through the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Worker program.
This is a whole-of-government effort with all of the departments and agencies involved with the H-2A program.  They are the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Labor, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Today we want to share information from USAID with you on how you can work with the governments of the Northern Central American countries to recruit workers, along with a flyer from /link to from Cierto Global, a non-profit H-2A recruiter that is establishing operations in Guatemala and has received funding to defray the costs for employers of worker recruitment. You can find more information on this program by visiting:
We want the expansion of these temporary worker programs to be coupled with worker protections and ethical recruitment practices.  We believe that worker protections for temporary workers are essential to protecting all workers.  Establishing these flows through labor pathways will not happen overnight; it will require sustained U.S. Government effort and partnership with employers.  We hope you will share with your members these resources, and please feel free to direct any questions to Gary Merson at [email protected].

CIERTO  Guatemala  Honduras  El Salvador




Political Action Committees are designed to generate funds that will support candidates that can or may help their supporters (if elected) to achieve things that will help their businesses and lives. The NWA PAC is a federal non-connected PAC (meaning the PAC is not affiliated with any party or candidate).


All aboard!  The NWA Convention Train is Pulling out of the Station.  Climb Aboard

Nashville ’22 is Full Speed Ahead.  Climb Aboard! We’ve come down to crunch time.  Have you reserved your room and registered for the NWA’s National Watermelon Convention in Nashville?  It is upon us - - the time to reunite; renew; rejuvenate; and recapture the loving spirit that our Annual Watermelon Family Reunion creates year after year.

This time around we will kick it off with a Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening featuring one of Nashville’s finest songwriters – Dave Pahanish, followed by a separate (ticketed) event - - a Political Action Committee Fundraiser with headliner John Rich (Big & Rich) & his band.  You can secure your PAC event tickets by calling the NWA office.

On Thursday there are key sessions looking at the significant changes to food safety audits presented by our friends from QIMA/WQS.  Another session will focus on the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) and how they market watermelons to make a positive difference in your business.  You can sit in on the NWA’s Grade Standards Committee and learn what they are working on with the USDA to modernize watermelon grade standards, including the photo library that is widely used by quality inspectors. 

At the opening reception you will be entertained by Lewis Brice, (Lee’s brother) – a very talented singer/songwriter, followed by our headliner - Country Music Superstar Eddie Montgomery & the Montgomery Gentry band.  Music will carry us throughout the weekend with a young up-and-coming singer songwriter – Jordan Barry on Saturday evening, followed by some beautiful music from a duo called Towne on Sunday morning.  

The agenda from start to finish is full of opportunities.  Networking will happen throughout the four days of education, entertainment, and fellowship.  Take a look at our full agenda.
After losing the opportunity to meet in 2021, this reunion (national convention) will allow us to renew, rejuvenate and smile ‘together’.  Make your plans today, and we’ll see you in Nashville in a little over 3 weeks.  Music City USA awaits!         



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