● If the apple industry of Washington state would like to address some of its trade access problems with the People’s Republic of China, now is not a bad time. The United States ambassador to China is Gary Locke, a former governor of Washington, while Washington’s new governor, Jay Inslee, is familiar with apple export issues and has a keen interest in trade questions involving China.
● If you don’t think a politician can help his state’s agricultural products, look at yesterday’s luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. The dessert? Hudson Valley Apple Pie with Sour Cream Ice Cream. The chairman of the committee who decided on the menu? Senator Chuck Schumer (D/New York).
● Changes at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service: Peter Tabor, who has led the plant division of the Office of Agreements and Scientific Affairs, leaves government service at the end of this month for a job with the Pet Food Institute, while Eric Wenberg will leave his current position as director of the Cooperator Programs Division this summer for a posting to our embassy in South Africa.
● NCAE, ACIR, AFBF, NCFC, and other acronyms working on immigration reform policy on the side of agricultural employers have formed a new one: AWC, the Agricultural Workforce Coalition. The hope is that this new coalition can successfully speak to Congress and the Administration with one clear and single voice on behalf of agricultural employers in the coming legislative debate on immigration. Over the past several years, agriculture has been divided, which is a sure way to be ineffective, if not just ignored, on Capitol Hill. (I plan to attend the National Council of Agricultural Employers’ annual meeting on February 5-6 in Washington, D.C.)
● My good friend John McClung is on the declining slope of his career at the Texas International Produce Association. While he will continue to have some duties at this regional trade association based in McAllen, the post of president has been turned over to Bret Erickson. I first met Mr. McClung in the 1980s when he was in charge of government relations for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association in Washington, D.C.