Now that the U.S. Government has passed the long-awaited food-safety legislation that has been many years in the making, one would think that we are all about to enter into a new era of consumer protectionism. Billed as The Food Safety Modernization Act, costing an estimated $1.4 billion in new funds over five years, consumers will now be able to eat more and worry less about contracting a food-borne illness—unless, of course, you are eating food from “a small producer.” Thank you Mr. Tester for this exemption that uses farm size and geographical boundaries on how far the produce is shipped as guidelines on which produce can be certified safe and which will not need to meet the new standards.

For the life of me, I am still trying to understand the reasoning behind using the number of miles cucumbers have to travel to find a customer as criteria to be met for food-safety guidelines and standards.

If I were a large California leafy green grower, I would start growing all of my greens within 200 miles of Los Angeles! Bringing that scenario home, growing fruits and produce 90 miles north of New York City in the productive Hudson Valley just became much more attractive.

On another note, today high-level talks are taking place in the White House between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. Headlines report that the agenda includes trade and security. In our area, we have a conservative talk radio host who thinks he is Glenn Beck, but acts like retired Lou Dobbs. His comments today were that the Chinese Embassy was setting up shop in the White House. He went on to say that since China holds over 50 percent of the U.S. debt, the space would be rent free! Did make me chuckle!

At the planned State dinner, let’s all pay close attention to see if there are apples on the menu, and if they are Fujis.