The Wind Machine

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Occasional thoughts on the politics and activities of Washington, D.C., as they may have relevance to our tree fruit industry.

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Schlect: Cow paths and ports

● A virtual shutdown of West Coast ports has severely damaged export efforts of our tree-fruit industry. Efforts by many of the commercial industries adversely affected, including ours, had requested President Obama to use special powers to intervene.

This was a long shot given that labor unions are part [...]

Schlect: Elections aftermath

● Greg Walden (R/Oregon) should be happy today. The chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee sheparded his flock of candidates to a significant national victory in yesterday’s mid-term election. However, the delegation from the Pacific Northwest did manage to stand pat, with the only change being in the [...]

Schlect: Cherry Street

● The Produce Marketing Association has hired a new team, Cornerstone Government Affairs, to represent it in Washington, D.C. Hunt Shipman will be the main contact for Cornerstone with PMA, for what is being called “Issues Management.” Mr. Shipman and his colleagues, such as my friend Vernie Hubert, have sterling [...]

Schlect: Focus on United

●  The New York Times Magazine issue of October 12 contains a feature article on the school lunch lobbying wars in Washington, D.C. Mentioned in this article are some old friends of mine: the lobbyist Marshall Matz, Tom Stenzel the president of the United Fresh Produce Association, and Kraig Naasz, [...]

Schlect: Food Safety — We’re Covered

● Last Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its anticipated revisions to four proposed rules implementing the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), with comments due by December 15. Our growers will be especially interested in changes to the FSMA rules for determining the safety [...]

Schlect: Mr. Hastings

●  Yesterday, Congressman Doc Hastings (R/Washington), who will be retiring at the end of the 113th Congress after two decades of service in the U.S. House of Representatives, endorsed Dan Newhouse to be his successor. Unsurprisingly, the other Republican candidate in the race, Clint Didier, did not find [...]

Schlect: From Russia without love

● Russia’s economic ban on U.S. agricultural goods will affect the Pacific Northwest’s apple and pear export programs this coming crop year. While the loss of direct sales is a concern, there are also the indirect impacts. For example, where will all the European apples that ordinarily were [...]

Schlect: Rediscovery of an advisory committee

● Secretary Tom Vilsack announced yesterday his long-awaited appointment of 25 members to the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, a private-sector committee that provides advice to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
Only one person on this national advisory committee is from the Pacific Northwest: Paul Newman of Washington state’s [...]

Schlect: Vetter clears Senate, takes U.S. chief agricultural negotiator job

● Darci Vetter, on July 10, cleared the Senate’s confirmation process and now holds the job of “U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator” at the office of the United States Trade Representative. She moves into USTR’s Winder Building from USDA, where she was deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services. [...]

Schlect: D.C. departures

● Eric Cantor’s primary defeat and subsequent resignation as majority leader has set in motion a search for a new majority leader. This will almost certainly be Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican from the fruit and vegetable producing Bakersfield area. Raúl Labrador (R/Idaho) is in this leadership race, but [...]