The new federal healthcare mandates are a head-scratcher, leaving many Southeast fruit and vegetable growers wondering how to get their operations to comply with them.

A special session at the SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference Jan. 9-12, 2014 in Savannah aims to explain the healthcare reform as it relates to agriculture and seasonal workers. The healthcare reform session Jan. 9 at 12:45 p.m. will be led by specialist in tax and employee benefit Sheldon Blumling of Fisher & Phillips LLC, and he will answer questions on how to prepare during 2014.

The session will also cover:

  • Review What Provisions and Obligations May Exist for Your Business;
  • Employer "Play or Pay" Mandate;
  • How the IRS Defines Seasonal vs. Full Time Workers;
  • Regulations for Large vs. Small Employers;
  • W-2 Reporting of Cost of Coverage.

Sponsored by the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and the South Carolina Peach Council, the annual conference takes place at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

More than 2,500 growers and industry representatives attend the program each year, which offers more than 85 hours of up-to-date and relevant information for fruit and vegetable producers, their employees and those who work in agribusiness. Sessions include production training, pest management information and marketing updates.

The conference covers peach, vegetable, Vidalia onion, watermelon, muscadine, blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, and pecan.

Special Good Agricultural Practices Food Safety, Organic Production and Roadside Markets sessions will be held. A Business Operations educational track is also offered to help producers across all commodities run the day to day operations of their organizations and make sound business and marketing decisions. Continuing education credits are available.

There will be an awards program Saturday morning where several individuals and groups will be recognized for their accomplishments and contributions to the fruit and vegetable industry. On Sunday, an Industry Roundtable is planned for both growers and suppliers to discuss issues of mutual concern.

The 2014 Trade Show, held in conjunction with the education sessions, offers an exciting and varied assembly of vendors and suppliers to the fruit and vegetable industry. With more than 200 companies already committed to the conference, this trade show will provide attendees the opportunity to compare products, talk with industry representatives, observe demonstrations, network with other growers and learn about the latest in fresh produce technology.

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association is a trade association representing farmers producing fruits and vegetables in the southeastern United States. The organization provides a viable and united voice to represent the industry. Through support for educational programs, agricultural research, member services and marketing activities GFVGA encourages efficient, cost effective production for growers and increased consumption by consumers.