● Norm Dicks will not be serving in the 113th Congress. On March 2, Mr. Dicks (D/Washington) announced he will not run for reelection this fall and, instead, will retire after 18 terms in the House of Representatives. I have enjoyed working with a string of his very capable legislative assistants over the past three decades. My predecessor, Ernie Falk, knew him from even before, when he served in the 1970s as a top staffer to U.S. Senator Warren Magnusson (D/Washington). While Mr. Dicks represents a political district far away from the orchard lands of Washington, his office has been always welcoming to our industry’s emissaries and open to any justified pleas for help.
● Often a Congressional retirement announcement from one state’s delegation will set in motion subtle subterranean political processes with effects on those from other states. An example from last week is David Dreier’s decision to not run for reelection. Mr. Dreier (R/California) is chairman of the House of Representative’s Rules Committee. Rules is a powerful committee. It now will need a new chairman next year. Assuming the Republicans hold their majority this fall, Speaker John Boehner will name the new chairman of the Rules Committee. Who are thought to be the two prime candidates for this plum assignment? Pete Sessions of Texas and Doc Hastings of Washington.
● U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R/Kansas), one of the wittiest officials on Capitol Hill, comments on the Department of Agriculture’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” public relations project: “‘This report highlights one of the fastest growing sectors in agriculture, and I commend farmers and ranchers around the country for taking advantage of opportunities to add value to their products by selling locally and regionally,” said Roberts. “While I appreciate the intent of USDA’s initiatives, the fact of the matter is the vast majority of food consumed in this country is not grown locally. Kansans enjoy bananas and coconuts, but they can’t walk into church every Sunday and shake the banana and coconut producer’s hand.’”
● Next Monday I travel to Washington, D.C., for a raft of meetings, anchored by one on Wednesday of the United Fresh Produce Association’s Government Relations Council.
POLITICAL FRUIT: “Amber Brink stood among a couple of hundred gnat-swatting Newt Gingrich supporters in the South Georgia marshland bearing a sign written in Southern drawl: “Jaw-ja Peaches for Newt.” Daniel Malloy, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 2, 2012.