Apr 28, 2010
01:43 PMThe Wind Machine
A Sour Apple Tree
● At a meeting last Thursday in Las Vegas of about fifteen principals of industry associations and commissions, it was decided that the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance will continue as the vehicle for the nation’s specialty crop industry in addressing the development of a new federal Farm Bill. The Northwest Horticultural Council will continue to serve on the steering committee of the Alliance, along with such other groups as United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, California Grape and Tree Fruit League, National Potato Council, American Nursery & Landscape Association, United States Apple Association, and WineAmerica. Hearings are already being planned for the next multi-year Farm Bill, with an idea of having new legislation in place by the end of 2012. Our tree fruit industry’s primary interests in this bill relate to maintaining appropriate funding support for foreign market promotion (the Market Access Program), agricultural research, and nutrition programs.
I think the next Farm Bill will be a legislative war given (1) the acknowledged need to reign in public spending; (2) the divergent interests among traditional farm commodities such as sugar, wheat, and dairy; (3) the newness within the Farm Bill of our specialty crop issues; and (4) conflict between conventional agriculture and advocates for small local agricultural systems.
● A U.S. Food and Drug Administration listening session on fresh produce food safety standards is set for May 5 in Portland, Oregon. It is being co-hosted by the Oregon and Washington departments of agriculture. The NHC will be represented next Wednesday in Portland by Debbie Carter, our technical issues manager, with Jordan Matson of Matson Fruit in Selah agreeing to our request to travel to Portland to make a presentation within the five minutes allocated for input on potential new federal standards for our tree fruit industry. FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods, Michael Taylor, who spoke last week at the United Fresh Produce Association’s convention in Las Vegas, will be the primary listener in attendance.
● The U.S. Senate finds itself this week in knots over reform legislation aimed at malfeasance on Wall Street. It brings to my mind some words contained in a new biography by James McGrath Morris, Pulitzer: a Life in Politics, Print, and Power, about the presidential election of 1884 and New York City’s robber baron Jay Gould. “ All sorts of rumors began circulating. On hearing one that Jay Gould was tampering with the votes, a crowd surged up Fifth Avenue chanting, ‘ We’ll hang Jay Gould to a sour apple tree.’”