● Moving a Farm Bill through Congress this year has proved difficult. Why? Because it represents huge expenditures of taxpayer dollars (mostly on social feeding programs, such as food stamps); contains controversial environmental policy directives; incites arguments between large commodity groups based on self-interest and geography; represents “big government” to those who seek to control federal spending and influence; and is being considered in a presidential election year with the two major political parties fighting each other red in tooth and claw. My guess is that passage of a new Farm Bill has its best chance in a lame duck session.
● In late July, President Obama traveled to Seattle for a fundraiser that brought together some 200 people at $5,000 a pop. The venue? The home of Costco Wholesale’s co-founder Jim Sinegal.
● A job of special interest to tree fruit export marketing interests changed hands on August 1. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has appointed Nancy Hirschorn as chief, horticultural branch. She succeeded Kevin Sage-EL who has moved into language training, before eventual posting to FAS’s agricultural trade office in Seoul, South Korea.
● Politicians and lobbyists smoothly adopt substitutes for words that might have developed a negative tinge. For example, an “interest group” might sound to some—or many—as if it has self-serving motives in opposition to the general public good. Solution? The warm, positive word “community” easily slides into the space once reserved for the cold “interest group” or “coalition.” So what did large companies dub the name of their new interest group created to fight for the rightful place of pizzas in today’s fevered regulatory debates over nutrition? The “USA Cheese Coalition”? No: “The American Pizza Community.”
● Political Past: Howard K. Smith in his 1942 book, Last Train from Berlin, observed: “If I had to describe Hitler’s Reich in one figure, I would compare it with a fine-looking apple with a tight, red, shiny skin, which was rotten to the core. The strong, polished hull is the army and the Gestapo, which has become the main constituent of the Nazi Party. It is a strong, very strong cover. The rotten inside is the whole of the fabric of Nazi society.”