● Jim Bair, the new leader of the United States Apple Association, will be making his first trip to the apple industry of Washington State the week of April 28. I will be accompanying him on his three-day visit to the fruit production areas of Yakima, Wenatchee, and Chelan.
● The United Fresh Produce Association has announced its slate of directors for 2014/2015. Only one from the Pacific Northwest’s tree fruit industry will serve on the new board: Tony Freytag of Crunch Pak as chairman of United’s Fresh-Cut Board. Two from our industry step down from service: Roger Pepperl of Stemilt Growers and Kevin Moffitt of the Pear Bureau Northwest. Ron Carkoski of Four Seasons (Pennsylvania) will ascend on April 22 to the chairmanship of this national trade association.
● GMOs continue to spark controversy. A voluntary labeling bill for GMOs was introduced last week in the House of Representatives. Backers hope passage of H.R. 4432 will prevent individual states from passing mandatory labeling laws for GMO foods. I think it unlikely this bill will pass this year due to intense opposition from consumer and anti-GMO advocacy groups. United’s board meets next week in Santa Barbara, California, and I have been asked to attend to participate in a policy discussion on the produce industry and GMOs.
● Tom O’Brien, who had been a contract lobbyist in Washington, D.C. for the Produce Marketing Association, is now moving to California where he will work on policy issues for the fresh berry giant Driscoll’s. This raises a question about PMA’s continued government relations work in Washington, D.C., which some, including me, saw as a duplication of similar efforts by United.
● Immigration watch: A flicker of hope is held in the breast of some political optimists that this contentious matter might yet be successfully handled this year, during a lame duck session of Congress.
● This year’s “Potlatch”, the dinner sponsored each year by the Washington State Society in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to be held on June 20 at the Washington Hilton.