● The Leonardo Academy, located in Madison, Wisconsin, released on April 19 its draft document for a “National Sustainable Agriculture Standard/LEO-4000.” This latest attempt to define the indefinable is 395 pages in length. Most major agricultural groups walked away from this process over a year ago.
● Walmart, after undertaking a number of high-profile positive public relation initiatives (including one calling for its food suppliers to be “sustainable”) over the last decade intended to counter a slew of labor and image problems, finds itself this week with a new dark cloud overhead. An allegation rolled in from this past Sunday’s New York Times that the giant retailer systematically bribed officials in Mexico in order to expand rapidly in that country. Bentonville is now sorting out the facts and related implications given the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I predict this will make for a cloud burst of work for many attorneys.
● Our office remains on alert for federal regulatory movement on the following: FDA’s proposed produce safety rules; FDA’s announcement on allowable levels for lead arsenic in apple juice; USDA/APHIS’s publication of a biotechnology deregulation petition for a non-browning apple; and, USDA/AMS’s release of its latest Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary.
● Farm Bill status: The Senate’s Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is scheduled to meet tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. (Eastern) in Room 328A of the Russell Senate Office Building to consider Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow’s (D/Michigan) draft of the next Farm Bill. The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is generally pleased with Chairwoman Stabenow’s mark. However, the traditional farm program commodities, such as rice and wheat, are at odds on how to handle the transition from direct payments. It is interesting to note that of the committee’s 21 members, none come from Idaho, Oregon, or Washington. Even California is unrepresented. It is an Ag Committee of the Upper Great Plains, Midwest, Deep South, and Northeast.
● I travel to Dallas, Texas, next Monday to attend the United Fresh Produce Association’s 2012 convention.
POLITICAL FRUIT: “What is so outrageous about this is how these bad apples, very bad apples, perhaps criminal apples, have sullied the reputation of very good people,” Boxer said, adding, “don’t underestimate this job you have in terms of shaking this tree and letting these bad apples fall.” United States Senator Barbara Boxer (D/California) at “Oversight Hearing on the General Services Administration” hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, April 18, 2012.