● The New York Times Magazine issue of October 12 contains a feature article on the school lunch lobbying wars in Washington, D.C. Mentioned in this article are some old friends of mine: the lobbyist Marshall Matz, Tom Stenzel the president of the United Fresh Produce Association, and Kraig Naasz, president of the American Frozen Food Institute. Mr. Naasz is a former employee of the Northwest Horticultural Council. The essence of the article was that fresh fruits and vegetables were being out-lobbied and losing space on school meal plates to pizza and other favorites of powerful large agricultural companies.
● The United Fresh Produce Association has announced some staff changes at its Washington, D.C., office. First, Ray Gilmer will leave at the end of this month after five years at United to take a job with a small college in Maryland. He had been the main public relations person at this national trade association. Second, among other promotions given to current staff, was the elevation of Victoria Backer to be United’s new executive vice president.
● United plans a “meet & greet” for congressional candidate Dan Newhouse in Yakima on Wednesday, October 22. Robert Guenther and Erin Grether plan to fly out from Washington, D.C. to attend the evening event. Mr. Guenther heads up the government affairs program at United, while Ms. Grether, a graduate of Spokane’s Gonzaga University, is its government affairs & science policy coordinator. The Northwest Horticultural Council and the Washington State Tree Fruit Association are helping out at the event.
● Paul Newman was elected chairman of USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee at an organizational meeting held on September 29 in Washington, D.C. Mr. Newman works in organic sales for Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers of Wenatchee.
● Only two from the Pacific Northwest made Roll Call’s annual list of “50 Richest Members of Congress”, a list derived from data reported in 2013 on 541 elected officials. Coming in at number 10 was Representative Suzan DelBene (D/Washington) at $37.89 million, most of which was derived from Microsoft stock; and at number 22, Senator Jim Risch (R/Idaho) with $19.24 million, mostly from ranch and farm holdings.
● On Wednesday I head down to Anaheim for the Produce Marketing Association’s annual convention and trade show.