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Schlect Chris blog post
●  Anne MacMillan has left her post as deputy chief of staff to Secretary Vilsack at USDA to join Roll Global, where she will be the leader of that company’s Washington, D.C., government relations office. Never heard of Roll Global? It is a private company owned by Stewart and Lynda Resnick of California. “Wonderful Pistachios”, Paramount Citrus, and a pile of other agricultural assets are owned by this couple. I had occasion last week to read a legal brief in a misbranding lawsuit they have brought against Coca-Cola, one that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. It seems Coke sells a juice product under the name “Pomegranate Blueberry” and the Resnicks are not amused since this label implies that Coke’s juice it is as good as their “POM Wonderful.’ Meanwhile, the Coke product is really 99% apple and grape juice, with only a hint of the more expensive pomegranate juice. I predict a Supreme Court victory for the Resnicks.

●  Implementation of FSMA, the Food Safety Modernization Act, keeps moving forward at the Food and Drug Administration. The media reports that a revised produce safety rule is now under review at the Office of Management and Budget. We can expect a publication of this latest draft later this summer. Also, comments on a transportation safety rule are due at the end of this month. My concern here is the what will be demanded by FDA of the intra-industry trucking of fresh fruit. What may well be suitable food safety rules for a shipment of packed fruit to New York City, will not be so for a flat-bed truck loaded with bins of harvested apples and traveling only between Yakima and Wenatchee.

●  Implementation of FSMA, the Food Safety Modernization Act, keeps moving forward at the Food and Drug Administration. The media reports that a revised produce safety rule is now under review at the Office of Management and Budget. We can expect a publication of this latest draft later this summer. Also, comments on a transportation safety rule are due at the end of this month. My concern here is the what will be demanded by FDA of the intra-industry trucking of fresh fruit. What may well be suitable food safety rules for a shipment of packed fruit to New York City, will not be so for a flat-bed truck loaded with bins of harvested apples and traveling only between Yakima and Wenatchee.

●  Darcy Vetter is poised to be the next Chief Agricultural Negotiator at USTR. Her Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing was on May 8. She has the support of Chairman Ron Wyden (D/Oregon) and most of the nation’s agricultural export groups. Ms. Vetter, who now is a high official at USDA, is married to another accomplished agricultural trade policy expert, Jason Hafemeister.

●  China: U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus is now on the ground in Beijing, after having been sworn in on February 21 as our country’s new envoy to the Middle Kingdom. He replaces former Washington state governor Gary Locke, who popped up last week across my computer screen as available for public speaking engagements as part of the stable of high-profile speakers run by Worldwide Speakers Group.

●  On my travel horizon: Portland on May 28/29 for the annual meetings of the Pear Bureau Northwest; Chicago the week of June 9 for the United Fresh Produce Association’s convention, and Los Angeles the week of June 23 for the Center for Produce Safety’s board meeting and 2014 Produce Research Symposium.