Jan 10, 2012
04:58 PMThe Wind Machine
● Yesterday, Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Blueprint for Stronger Service.” The core of this cost-cutting effort is the closure of some 259 domestic offices, laboratories, and other facilities, as well as seven foreign offices. The total cost savings are estimated by USDA to be $150 million annually. A quick scan of the closures discloses no significant adverse impacts for our tree fruit industry. Only two Foreign Agricultural Service offices are slated to shut their doors: Stockholm, Sweden, and Damascus, Syria.
● USDA is taking longer and longer to name members to its many citizen advisory committees. At bottom, these delays are usually cases—not of dropping the ball by career federal managers—but of lethargic behavior within the Jamie L. Whitten Building: that is, a wait to achieve final political clearance from the Administration for innocuous appointees. A case in point is the re-chartering of the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. Here all applications, pursuant to a Federal Register notice published in June of 2011, were submitted last summer. No announcement from USDA has yet been made. Meanwhile, the last meeting of this advisory committee was held on March 1, 2011.
● Congressman Doc Hastings (Republican, Washington) and Greg Walden (Republican, Oregon) are in the midst of an official visit to three countries, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. Each of the countries is an important market for commercial shipments of tree fruit from the Pacific Northwest. The two are traveling as part of a seven member Congressional delegation, led by House Speaker John Boehner (Republican, Ohio).
POLITICAL FRUIT: “Mitt Romney is responsible for job losses at companies where he invested as chairman of a venture capital company, but President Obama is not responsible for the failure of green energy company Solyndra, the Democratic Party chief said Sunday when asked if the two men’s records are comparable. ‘It’s total apples and oranges comparison,’ Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’” Fox.News.com, January 8, 2012.