● The Farm Bill is set to be marked-up by the House Agriculture Committee on July 13. Controversy has been sparked by both regional crop differences on policy, and the pressing need to control the federal budget. It would surprise no one if a new Farm Bill was not enacted before November 6. Floor time for actual debate and voting is scarce between now and when the elected officials break for home and the general election.
● Mexico elected a new president on Sunday: Enrique Peña Nieto of that country’s oppositional party, the PRI. Our tree fruit industry’s most important export market will be led by a person who apparently is in favor of international trade. We hope.
● The U.S. Supreme Court announced two big decisions on immigration and health care in the final week before its summer recess. The high court’s immigration decision on Arizona’s law, coupled with earlier action by President Obama on enforcement, positions comprehensive immigration reform near the top of things to do next year on Capitol Hill. In terms of health care, everyone is now in a mad scramble to determine how the upheld law actually will impact such employers as the orchardist who hires 51 people for a few weeks each year to harvest cherries.
● Last week I was in Davis, California, for both a meeting of the Center for Produce Safety’s Advisory Board and the annual CPS Produce Research Symposium. Over three hundred people were present for the symposium, including a number from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The top FDA official present was Mike Taylor, the person at this federal agency in charge of food safety. Mr. Taylor gave no reason for the delay in issuing proposed regulations to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, regulations which were due out six months ago. He did say they would be eventually published. Next year’s CPS Produce Research Symposium is scheduled to be held on June 26 in Rochester, New York. Why Rochester? It is near the corporate headquarters of Wegmans Food Markets, a regional retail grocery chain that will be hosting the event.