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Schlect Chris blog post

● Darci Vetter, on July 10, cleared the Senate’s confirmation process and now holds the job of “U.S. Chief Agricultural Negotiator” at the office of the United States Trade Representative. She moves into USTR’s Winder Building from USDA, where she was deputy undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services. A search is now underway for someone to replace her at USDA. Meanwhile, Ms. Vetter’s new boss, the United States Trade Representative, Ambassador Michael Froman, is set to travel to Seattle to address a Washington Council on International Trade luncheon on August 12. The NHC is a member of WCIT and will be represented at this luncheon.

● Food Safety and Modernization Act rules, which were expected this summer, have yet to issue from the Food and Drug Administration. The complexities of the food safety issue for fresh produce are highlighted by the example of the current national recall of certain peaches by a California packing house. It appears from press reports that the recall was triggered as a result of product testing information received by the California firm from an Australian buyer of its exported peaches.

● USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service has long had a useful educational program for its young professionals. Once every year or more, it sends a group of about twenty to a different area of our country to learn about that region’s local agriculture. Later in their careers, when they are stationed abroad, they will have a better idea of the source of the agricultural products they will be helping to enter foreign marketplaces.

This year’s trip will be to the Pacific Northwest, where they will see Seattle, Ellensburg, the Yakima Valley, Hood River, and Portland during the week of August 25. Wine, hay, hops, and tree fruit are some of the crops to be seen. The Northwest Horticultural Council will host a dinner for the FAS team during this visit.

●  The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture on July 18 announced a new leader: Dr. Barbara Glenn.  Dr. Glenn was the vice president of science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America, where I first came to know her through my work with the Minor Crop Farmer Alliance.