● Wednesday, January 4, was the day set for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to publish draft rules on produce safety. It still hasn’t happened. Why? The good government reason: the interagency process, as coordinated by the Office of Management and Budget, is now ironing out kinks to the initial and complicated proposals drafted by FDA  before they are sent in more polished form to the Federal Register. The cynical political reason: Politically attuned people within the Administration do not want to dump hundreds of pages of new federal regulations on American farmers just months prior to this fall’s presidential election.

● The Super Tuesday primary held in Ohio on March 6 resulted, among many other electoral results, in a defeat for Representative Jean Schmidt (R). The Cincinnati-area member lost to a Republican challenger, who will now run for this seat in November’s general election. The main interest here is that Ms. Schmidt is the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over legislative issues affecting fruits & vegetables, the Market Access Program, organics, etc.  Ms. Schmidt, not the most gifted of politicians, spoke last fall at the United Fresh Produce Association’s Public Policy Conference.

● I ran into Casey Sixkiller in the Hart Senate Office Building last week, appropriately enough in the building’s lobby. The onetime legislative staffer to Senator Patty Murray (D/Washington) has just opened his own Washington, D.C., firm, “Sixkiller Consulting.”

●  Next Tuesday I plan to be back in Washington, D.C., for purposes of APAC, the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Ambassador Ron Kirk, the United States Trade Representative, are both scheduled to be at a portion of  this meeting, which will be devoted to international trade policy matters.

POLITICAL FRUIT: “At issue is the myth, perpetuated by religionists on the right (including Santorum himself), that the selective and self-serving observance of religious rules and doctrines is a sin committed exclusively by the left. The practice is known as ‘cherry picking.’ Both sides do it.” Column by Lisa Miller in The Washington Post, March 24, 2012.