• One of the federal sequestration cuts is the suspension by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service of several reports, including the first NASS estimate of the new season’s national apple crop, normally released in August. The apple marketers from our area of the country that I have talked with see this particular cutback of service as a very minor issue.
  • Kathleen Merrigan, the number two person in the hierarchy of the Department of Agriculture, has announced she will be leaving on April 29. Deputy Secretary Merrigan was an untraditional political appointee, who championed organic agriculture, nutrition, and local food systems. With a doctorate degree in environmental planning and policy and with close ties to Senator Leahy of Vermont, she was not the first choice, nor any other choice, of those representing the large farm belts of the Midwest and South. What happened? Was it voluntary or was she pushed out of her job and, if so, by whom? In this job mystery there are many potential hands that might have held the knife. Or, delivered the poison–needless to say organic; probably arsenic
  • If you want to know why our industry is interested in selling fruit to the People’s Republic of China, here’s a clue about the strength and size of its economy: Of the ten top world container ports, six are in China. The top ranked container port located in the United States is Los Angles at 16.
  • Last Friday I was in a meeting held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Its purpose was to discuss agricultural international trade policy, and there were about thirty people around a large table. I sat down and introduced myself to the man on my right and discovered to my surprise a person with nearly the same last name as mine: Shannon Schlecht, vice president of policy for U.S. Wheat Associates, Inc.
  • Political Fruit: “But comparing these budgets [The U.S. Senate's vs. Paul Ryan's] isn’t like comparing apples to apples. It’s not even like comparing apples to oranges. It’s more like comparing an apple to something that looks like an apple, but you later learn is not really an apple.” Derek Thompson of The Atlantic, posted on March 14.