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Schlect Chris blog post ● A virtual shutdown of West Coast ports has severely damaged export efforts of our tree-fruit industry. Efforts by many of the commercial industries adversely affected, including ours, had requested President Obama to use special powers to intervene.

This was a long shot given that labor unions are part of the president’s core base of political support. Unsurprising, the White House stated this week that the dispute between labor and management should play out under the normal rules of collective bargaining. Little concern exhibited over the billions of dollars in damage to our nation’s economy.

● Mark Powers, executive vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, has been named the new chairman of the Coalition to Support U.S. Agricultural Exports. He replaces Mike Wootton, an executive with Sunkist Growers, Inc., as the head of this group that supports federal funding for export promotional programs, primarily USDA’s Market Access Program.

Today, USDA released its list of MAP funding grantees for FY 2015. The Washington Apple Commission is set to receive–in rounded numbers–$5.2 million, the Washington State Fruit Commission $1.7, and the Pear Bureau Northwest $3 million.

● Mike Conaway (R/Texas) will be the next chairman of the House of Representative’s Agriculture Committee, replacing Frank Lucas of Oklahoma.

● Last Thursday I attended a meeting on proposed food safety rules at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at College Park, Maryland. I traveled via Metro’s Yellow Line to a station just across from CFSAN’s building.

As you exit the station, you must cross a parking lot and then a street to reach the federal building. One would think that federal officials would provide for a safe walkway for this high frequency short journey. No. Visitors and CFSAN employees navigate the parking lot then cross a strip of grass that has been turned, much like a narrow pebble-strewn uneven cow path, into the preferred pedestrian way to CFSAN’s main entrance.

● Perhaps the new director of CFSAN will initiate work on a safe path for visitors. Last week, Dr. Susan T. Mayne from the Yale School of Public Health, was tapped to lead the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

● On Monday Dan Newhouse claimed victory in the tight race for the congressional seat currently held by Mr. Hastings (R/Washington). Coincidently, on that same day I had lunch in Yakima with Kate Woods, who will be joining our office in January.

Ms. Woods now serves in Washington, D.C., as legislative director for Mr. Hastings. I chose the venerable Yakima Sports Center Restaurant and Lounge for our repast and as we proceeded into this restaurant, who should we run into? The newly-elected congressman, Mr. Newhouse, who was having a noon time meal with two of his campaign aides.