Schlect Chris blog post● The Produce Marketing Association has hired a new team, Cornerstone Government Affairs, to represent it in Washington, D.C. Hunt Shipman will be the main contact for Cornerstone with PMA, for what is being called “Issues Management.” Mr. Shipman and his colleagues, such as my friend Vernie Hubert, have sterling reputations along with useful employment experience that includes stints with such places as the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.  My question will be how the government relations staff of the United Fresh Produce Association will coordinate, if at all, with this new lobbying group hired by its competitor association.  Many firms in the fruit and vegetable world, such as the Northwest Horticultural Council, belong to both United and PMA, and have a desire to have these two industry workhorses to pull in the same direction. Or at least not unnecessarily re-plow the same policy ground.

●  Major retail grocery store chains have been at the forefront of demanding that suppliers, such as tree-fruit growers and shippers, comply with all sorts of environmental, labor, and enhanced food safety requirements, usually piously justified  by headquarters as part of that chain’s unrelenting commitment to high ethical standards, honesty, and social improvement. The British-based retailer Tesco jumps to mind as a prime example of this phenomenon. Last week Tesco announced its chairman, Richard Broadbent, would resign as a result of an internal investigation into a company-wide material overstatement of profits.

●   Food Policy Action has announced its “National Food Policy Scorecard” for the 113th Congress. The Environmental Working Group, National Resources Defense Council, United Food & Commercial Workers, and Center for Science in the Public Interest, are among those groups represented in the leadership of Food Policy Action. Unsurprisingly, most Democrats achieve high scores and Republicans low. For example, the Pacific Northwest’s six member U.S. Senate delegation scored as follows: Maria Cantwell (D/Washington) 100, Mike Crapo (R/Idaho) 0, Jeff Merkley (D/Oregon) 100, Patty Murray (D/Washington) 100, Jim Risch (R/Idaho) 0, and Ron Wyden (D/Oregon) 100.

●   The October 20 issue of The Packer contained a special report profiling 25 produce industry leaders. Of special importance to me among these recognized national leaders were Fred Heptinstall of IFCO Systems with whom I worked alongside on  a committee of the United Fresh Produce Association; Brian Kocher of Chiquita Brands whom I worked with on harmonization of food safety audits; Scott Marboe of Oneonta Starr Ranch whom I have spent time with over the years in waiting rooms of assorted international airports; Lee Peters of Fowler Farms (New York) whom I worked on many occasions on USApple business; Dr. Trevor Suslow of the University of California/Davis whom I serve with on the board of the Center for Produce Safety; and Mark Zirkle of Rainer Fruit Company whom I have worked under during his service as a trustee of the Northwest Horticultural Council.

● George Washington spent his first night as our nation’s first president in New York City at a house on Cherry Street. For such fruitful things–and even more importantly to discover information on how the U.S. Constitution came into being, I recommend a just published history book by Professor Edward J. Larson, entitled “The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789.” There is a reason he is called the Father of Our Nation.