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● A flurry of meetings will be held in Washington, D.C., the week of March 12. I will travel back then to attend gatherings of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance; the Government Relations Council of the United Fresh Produce Association; the Minor Crop Farmer Alliance; and, finally, the Crop Protection Coalition. This heaped-up pile of meetings is the result of coordination among the various chairmen of these groups, including me, who seek to avoid duplicate travel and attendant expenses of the involved people, many of whom routinely fly to the Capital for such meetings from sites ranging from Florida to the Pacific coast.

●This week, I received word from the federal government that I have been approved for a “secret” security clearance, such being necessary for one to serve on U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Trade Representative’s Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee. This was the culmination of my filing a bunch of personal information earlier in the year, in order to refresh a clearance that had been obtained some ten years ago. ● What was interesting to me were the changes over the past decade in the security questions asked. For example, the questions are now more about whether you have ever been a terrorist than a communist. Another change—new questions about whether you have ever been accused of misusing computers or electronic business files. And, for the first time, I needed to supply a personal e-mail address.

●  Raul Ibanez, 39, has agreed to terms with the New York Yankees. The outfielder, who once roamed Seattle’s Safeco Field, will be used as the “primary designated hitter against right-handed starting pitchers.” His season’s salary will be $1.1 million, which equals this year’s budget of the Northwest Horticultural Council.

POLITICAL FRUIT: “Comparing the fiscal promises made by Obama and Mitt Romney isn’t quite comparing apples to apples.” Ezra Klein, The Washington Post, February 13, 2012.