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Sometimes Politics

In all businesses, there are days where politics come into play and understanding the political playing field is as important as knowing when to pick fruit at its peak, to sell fruit at the optimum price, and to know where and when to promote said fruit. Yesterday, was one of those days when politics became the focus of my afternoon. 

I had been asked to attend an impromptu meeting with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA).  Along with fellow industry members, Jason Matson (Matson Fruit), Adam Rowe (Rowe Farms), Christian Schlect (Northwest Horicultural Association), Jon DeVaney (Yakima Growers-Shippers Association), and Mike Gempler (Washington Growers League), I met with Senator Cantwell for over an hour in, of all places, a beer garden at the Yakima Ag Expo being held at Yakima’s SunDome.  

While the venue was somewhat of a surprise, the discussion was down to earth and direct in our efforts to articulate the needs of our industry.  As always in recent years, the number-one issue we discussed was the need for continued political pressure for comprehensive labor reform to address the lack of labor and for positive changes with the existing H-2A program.

The other big issue for which we asked support was the Farm Bill and Market Access Program funding for growers' overseas promotion efforts.

To Senator Cantwell’s credit, she was attentive and up to speed on the challenges we face.  The political arena that is Washington, D.C., is heavily focused on an agenda that will find common ground on both sides of the aisle on how to balance the national budget and reduce our national deficit.  For our industry, we continue to hope for the best outcomes as they relate to our business.  Certainly, the chance to discuss issues one on one with a U.S. Senator here in our own backyard was a unique and positive opportunity.

On another note

Cherry growers should be interested in the upcoming “listening sessions” that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency will be conducting regarding the extension of USDA-backed crop insurance.  Details are as follows:

The Risk Management Agency contracted with Agralytica of Alexandria, Virginia, to evaluate the pilot insurance program for sweet cherries.  The purpose of the evaluation is to determine whether the pilot program should be made permanent and expanded to other areas, modified and continued as a pilot, or terminated. 

Agralytica staff will be holding separate listening sessions for (a) sweet cherry growers, and (b) insurance company staff, agents, adjusters, and other interested parties in Washington State, Oregon, California, and Michigan.  The aim is to get feedback on how the pilot program has worked in recent years and how it can be improved. 

The USDA is urgently seeking views on issues that have arisen over the three years of implementation of the Cherry Actual Revenue History (ARH).  The input of growers and insurance company staff, agents, adjusters, and other interested parties is vital as the USDA reviews the results of this pilot program and makes recommendations for its future.  Details on the listening sessions in the Pacific Northwest are as follows:

Oregon Growers
Thursday, February 9,  2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
The Classroom (downstairs) at 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, OR 97058 

Oregon Insurers, insurance agents, & loss adjusters
Thursday, February 9, 11:00 am to 1:00 p.m.
Columbia Gorge Discovery Center
The Classroom (downstairs) at 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles, OR 97058

Washington Growers
Friday, February 10, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
W. L. Hansen Building
First Floor Meeting Room at 105 South 18th Street, Yakima, WA 98901.  Insurers, insurance agents, & loss adjusters

Washington Insurers, insurance agents, & loss adjusters
Friday, February 10, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
W. L. Hansen Building
First Floor Meeting Room at 105 South 18th Street, Yakima, WA 98901. Washington Growers

If anyone desires an individual meeting, Agralytica staff will be available at each of the above locations.  To arrange a time, contact Nick Young by cell at 703-981-6002 or by e-mail: nyoung@agralytica.com.  Alternatively, anyone can submit e-mailed comments or call Nick Young or Tom Earley by cell at 703-981-6002 or 703-981-6004. Also, persons requesting special accommodations (such as a translator or for a disability) to participate in the above scheduled meetings should contact Nick Young.