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Varnum to Host Import Seminar for those Faced with Importing Due to Early Spring Crop Loss

May 7, 2012

In the wake of an unusually early Spring and significant fruit crop loss in Michigan, Varnum's Food Law group and Van Andel Global Trade Center will host a seminar to educate food processors on the practical and legal steps of importing produce from international markets. The seminar, entitled "What Now? The Nuts and Bolts of Importing Produce from Overseas," will be held at Crystal Mountain Resort on Wednesday, May 16 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

During March's summer-like weather, many Michigan fruit trees blossomed early, only to be hit with a series of freezing temperatures in April. The frosts killed many buds, as well as discouraged bees from pollinating buds that did survive the weather.  The rare weather patterns resulted in severe crop loss to Michigan cherries, pears, apples, and grapes, and has left many food processors to find fruit oversees for the first time in years.

"The crop loss affects more than the farmer and the fresh fruit consumer," said attorney Steve Kluting, co-chair of Varnum's food processing group. "Fruit processing is a large force in Michigan's economy, and it's been deeply affected by the crop loss. Many Michigan processors have never imported before or haven't in years. It's crucial for processors to be educated on the process and the regulations that apply to importing fruit, especially following the significant legal changes that have been implemented since 9/11."

Registration and breakfast will begin at 8:15 a.m. in the Hudson Bay room at Crystal Mountain Resort. Topics presented by Varnum's Food Law Group and the Van Andel Global Trade Center, an international consulting, training and resource  group, will include:   

  • Understanding import transaction structures
  • Buyer and seller responsibilities
  • Financing international transactions
  • Utilizing service providers - bankers, shipping companies, customs brokers, etc.
  • Elements of the sales contract
  • Resources available through government and other institutions 
  • Legal considerations, including applicable FDA rules and regulations
  • Effect of new legislation, like the Food Safety Modernization Act
  • Foreign supplier verification programs
  • Complying with certification maintenance requirements

The cost to attend is $15. To register, or for more information, visit

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