Those attending this year’s Texas Produce Convention in San Antonio will discuss issues important to most businesses: rising fuel costs, immigration reform and marketing to growing ethnic populations.

But an organizer of the event said talks on these and other topics will be tailored to the state’s fruits and vegetable industry. Several hundred people are expected to attend.

The annual gathering of growers, shippers, packers, suppliers, researchers and others will be hosted by the Texas Produce Association, Texas Citrus Mutual and the Texas Vegetable Association. The event is scheduled for Aug. 10-12 at the Crowne Plaza in San Antonio.

Ray Prewett, president of Texas Citrus Mutual and an event organizer, said new this year will be a breakout session on the healthful benefits of citrus and how to market those benefits.

“We’ll have a vegetable session to discuss challenges and opportunities, a citrus session to discuss the economic outlook for Texas citrus, especially in light of problems in other citrus-producing regions, and new this year will be a session for Texas A&M’s Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center,” Prewett said. “We’ll be using citrus as a case study in promoting the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.”

The speaker for the special breakfast will be Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, will be the guest speaker for the special breakfast on Aug. 11. Her talk will be on, “Immigration: Prospects for Reform and What it Might Mean for Texas Businesses.”

Jacoby was a senior writer and justice editor for Newsweek and served as deputy editor of the New York Times op-ed page. In 2004 she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the advisory board to the National Endowment for the Humanities.

“She writes extensively on immigration and citizenship and is a leading conservative voice in the media in favor of immigration reform,” Prewett said. “We look forward to her insights on immigration reform as it relates to the produce industry.”

Keynote speaker later that day will be Charlie Stenholm, a former Texas congressman and U.S. representative who served on the House Committee on Agriculture during his 26-year career in Washington, D.C. He will shed light on the possibilities of a 2007 Farm Bill, Prewett said.

Stenholm’s talk will be titled, “Washington Issues Affecting the Fruit and Vegetable Industry.”

In response to rising fuel costs, experts will also be on hand to explore the feasibility of using transportation alternatives, including rail, to keep shipping costs down, Prewett said.

“In our general sessions in the past, we’ve often discussed marketing,” Prewett said. “But this year, we’ll be focusing for the first time on ethnic groups, since their growth rate is much faster than that of the majority population.”

Other speakers and their topics include: Dr. Juan Anciso, Texas Cooperative Extension, “A National Strategy for Irish Yellow Spot Virus on Onion;” Dr. Michael Gould, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, “Opportunities for Research and Innovations for Vegetables Through the Weslaco Center;” Pat Gomes, U.S. Department of Agriculture, “What is APHIS Doing to Protect Citrus States Outside of Florida;” and Dr. Julian Sauls, Extension, “The Status of the Canker/Greening Action Plan for Texas.”

To register online or for more information on speakers, events or the complete event agenda, go to http://valleyag.org or call 956-584-1772.