● Appointees to senior staff positions, both on the Hill and within the Administration, are often key to policy outcomes. It helps to have a personal relationship with such mandarins. This does not mean they will uncritically accept your views, but it does mean trust already exists and messages will be returned. Two friends emerged this week with significant new jobs: Autumn Veazey, who once worked at the United Fresh Produce Association, has been named by Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, the ranking member of the minority, to the staff of the U.S. Senate’s Agriculture Committee. She will be responsible for specialty crops, food safety, organics, and market orders. Meanwhile, Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, most recently with a biotechnology association, rejoins the Office of the United States Trade Representative. She will be the assistant USTR for agriculture, replacing the retired Jim Murphy. I have known Ms. Bomer Lauritsen for over twenty years, starting with her days working in the government relations section of what was then known as the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association.

● Is a light coming on at Walmart? “’Every Day Low Price’ has to come from every day low cost, which means we have to operate for less. Sustainability and some of these other initiatives can be distracting if they don’t add to every day low cost.” From an interview of William S. Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. in The Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2011.

POLITICAL FRUIT: “There’s nothing wrong with picking low-hanging fruit.” Quin Hillyer from his article “Budget Battles Demand Perspective” in The American Spectator, March 18, 2011.