Jun 19, 2010
05:40 PMOut of the Orchard
Meeting Washington leaders
About ten days ago, we were invited to meet with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and the Administrator of EPA, Lisa Jackson. This past Monday the Cherry Marketing Institutes Chairman of the Board, Randy Willmeng and I traveled to Washington for the meeting. We started the day with a visit in Senator Stabenow's office to chat about the 2012 Farm Bill and the needs and hopes of Specialty Crop Farmers and specifically the Cherry Industry. We finished the morning with an hour and a half meeting with two cabinet level individuals.
The year 2009 was a mammoth cherry crop that picked out at 352.9 million pounds. The average production up to the 2009 crop was 242.6 million pounds. The quality was premier and, as a result, we packed the largest crop since 1964. This past season sales have been good including sales (including pledges) to USDA Domestic Feeding Programs of over 30 million dollars. These surplus sales helped us move much needed inventory but, more importantly, helped our industry get more money back to the growers. These programs, which were part of the last Farm Bill, have been a big help to Speciality Crop Growers all across the country. If you have the opportunity to talk with the Secretary, I would encourage you to thank him for his help and support this past year. He personally has also helped with some MRL (Maximum Residue Level) issues in Japan and personally met with a number of US groups in April to understand this issue and do what he could to assist. Lois Rossi who heads the Registration Division at EPA has been a leader on this issue and has been very helpful to us. We encouraged Ms. Jackson to support Lois and her efforts and thanked her for allowing Lois to continue to work Internationally to standardize farm chemicals labeled in other countries. It is one of the key issues for U.S. Farmers to be able to sell crops produced in the US in the world market.
At the end of the day, I left the meeting with a strong sense that the Secretary and Administrator really do care and want to do there best
to keep U.S. Agriculture the best and safest food supply in the world!