● Today, in a surprisingly quick move, the House of Representatives passed by a vote of 216 to 208 a revised Farm Bill (H.R. 2642), a modified version of the proposed five-year Farm Bill that went down in flames on June 20. The big change? The majority stripped out, for later debate, the bill’s nutrition title, which includes the nearly $80 billion dollar food stamp program. No Democrat voted for H.R. 2642. This blows up the traditional urban/rural coalition that has served over many decades to pass bipartisan Farm Bills. How the House’s version of the Farm Bill will fare in conference with a more traditional version, as passed by the Senate on June 10, is now the subject of calculation, if not despair, by every agricultural lobbyist within the Beltway.
● The United States Apple Association is looking for a new leader. Nancy Foster will be leaving at the end of August after over a decade as USApple’s president. Setting aside what caused this departure, the issue before the board of USApple is what to do about a replacement. Right now it seems that it is full speed ahead to find one. A search committee has been named and a job listing posted. The search committee of five is chaired by Mike Wade of Wenatchee, with the other four from apple producing states of the Midwest and East. To my mind, it might be wise to pause for some thought about the future role and funding of USApple before quickly pulling the trigger on naming a successor to Ms. Foster.
● What does “local” mean? The Canada Food Inspection Agency has adopted an interim rule that recognizes “local” as: 1) food produced in the province or territory in which it is sold, or 2) food sold across provincial borders within 50 km of the originating province or territory. As an example, a tomato grown in Victoria, British Columbia, may be sold as “local” in Fort Nelson, some 1,020 miles away.
● A back cover advertisement from an in-flight magazine caught my eye as I returned from a business trip last month. It was for TagHeuer, the Swiss watch maker, and featured a picture of the film star Leonardo DiCaprio holding a wrist-watch. A message in a corner of the ad stated that Mr. DiCaprio and TagHeuer “have joined together to contribute to the National Resources Defense Council. ‘For nearly 40 years, NRDC has led the environmental movement to protect our planet. I [DiCaprio] have been a proud board member since 2003.”‘ Two observations: (1) the NRDC did not save the apple world when, some twenty years ago, it led the frenetic media campaign against ALAR and (2) the wrist-watch retails for $6,300.