● Senator Richard Lugar (R/Indiana) lost his primary reelection race on Tuesday. The senator, age 80, who has capably served in the U.S. Senate for 36 years, was thus denied the chance for another six years in office. While serious public policy differences were involved in Senator Lugar’s defeat, certainly the incumbent’s age had something to do with it. Why in politics do so many officials in their eighties routinely feel the need to actively seek reelection? I think this phenomenon—which is a bipartisan affliction—is a jumble of personal ego (Who could do this job well but me?); fear of the sudden obscurity of retirement; denial of the realities of the human aging process; and, the desire to protect the careers of staffers who have loyally served the now elderly official for many years, if not decades. Political power is adhesive; once grasped it is hard to release.
● It appears merger discussions between the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association may soon come to a significant turning point. According to an article written last week by Tim Linden of The Produce News, a vote on a specific proposal to merge will come before the two boards on June 4. The Northwest Horticultural Council is an active and long-time member of both United and PMA. From this perspective, I have seen a continuously creeping overlap of functions between these two national trade associations. In my opinion, their many duplicative program areas could be successfully combined, with immediate savings of both time and money. These savings would not only be in terms of current direct costs at PMA and United, but even more so with the indirect savings by a multitude of companies and associations in the nation’s fruit and vegetable industry. Two examples of the latter: 1) the cost of sending a firm’s marketing team to two separate trade shows now held six months apart, and 2) the cost to a regional produce association of actively following two separate federal government relations efforts. I hope United and PMA become one.
● United’s legal counsel, David Durkin, predicted last week in Dallas that if a proposed rule for produce food safety is not published in the Federal Register by the end of May, it likely will not see the light of day until after November’s general election.
POLITICAL FRUIT: “The game now being played by those in politics and the media responsible for the policy mistakes of recent years is now two-fold. On the one hand, to tell Hollande that his job is now to manage downwards the expectations of the French electorate and all those elsewhere in Europe who have struggled against the austerity mantra: he should be ‘realistic’, not spook the markets or upturn the European apple-cart with a rejection of the fiscal compact.” Commentary by Andrew Watt in Social Europe Journal, May 8, 2012.