By CHRISTIAN SCHLECT, PRESIDENT, NORTHWEST HORTICULTURAL COUNCIL
- The White House is in the midst of a ninety-day study of ways to reorganize the federal government’s export and trade apparatus. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service and USTR are targets of some who would like all such efforts located under the umbrella of the Commerce Department. You can take it as a given that agricultural interests in our country will fight any such recommendation. When a Commerce bureaucrat stationed overseas has a choice between working on a billion-dollar manufacturing sale or a technical one involving, say, fresh pears, where will that person’s effort be placed?
- This past week, I hit the trifecta of produce food safety when I met, with varying numbers of other people, on Tuesday with Kristian Moeller of GlobalGAP North America in Wenatchee; on Thursday with Drs. Samir Assar and Jim Gorny of FDA’s Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition in College Park, Maryland; and, on Friday with Robert Garfield of the Safe Quality Food Institute in Arlington, Virginia.
- Growers of our low risk tree-fruit crops are exposed to a coming wave of food safety activity and regulation generated by a number of public and private forces. Forces greater than is within our industry’s ability to totally deflect.
- Last Saturday, the United States Apple Association adopted a position in opposition to USDA approval of two genetically engineered (GE) non-browning apples. This targeted action was in harmony with a position earlier taken by the trustees of the Northwest Horticultural Council.
- Japan’s combined earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster will have its effects on our tree fruit industry. While these questions pale next to the reality of human suffering, still: (1) Will this year’s level of U.S. fresh cherry exports be diminished? There were about 305,000/20 lb. cases shipped to Japan in 2010. (2) Is irradiation now even further away as a publically acceptable means of achieving pest and disease quarantine security? Irradiation has been touted by USDA/APHIS as a possible replacement for methyl bromide as a quarantine treatment for exports.
- POLITICAL FRUIT: “Suddenly, the Teamsters weren’t the only ones with an opinion. Senator Patty Murray of Washington—apples from her state were on the tariff list—took the side of Mexican truckers.” Editorial “NAFTA’s Unfinished Business,” The New York Times, March 12, 2011.