Schlect Chris blog post● Two non-browning Arctic Apples have cleared an important regulatory hurdle, with USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service announcing on November 8 that the two genetically engineered apples do not pose a pest or disease risk if introduced into commercial production in the United States. Okanagan Specialty Fruits Inc. is the Canadian-based company that applied for this approval. Potential marketing issues, such as labeling, product testing, and export access, remain a deep concern to me given the antipathy many consumers express about GMO foods.

● Comprehensive immigration reform is dead for 2013 and a new Farm Bill is in the intensive care unit. Republicans have no desire to divert attention from the misadventure known as the Affordable Care Act and there are only a relatively few legislative days left this year; as a result, achieving anything controversial in Congress before December 31 will be difficult. Right now, both sides of Capitol Hill are set to adjourn all of next week for the Thanksgiving Day holiday and the House of Representatives plans to close down shop for the year on December 13.

● USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service announced this week that while it will continue to publish its Non-Citrus Fruit and Nut Annual Summary, “there will be no forecasts, no preliminary summary, and no monthly prices in FY 2014.” The northwest regional director for NASS, Christopher Mertz, was in our office yesterday to meet with our staff and explain his agency’s current budget realities and its work in support of the tree fruit industry.

● U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke has given notice to the White House that he will be leaving his job in Beijing early next year and then returning home to Seattle. The resolution of long-standing technical trade issues involving fresh apples are now in play between the two countries and it is regrettable that the former governor of Washington state will not be present in the Middle Kingdom to see these issues successfully resolved.

● On Friday I travel to Wenatchee to attend a “Fruit Growers Roundtable” brought together by Congressman Dave Reichert (R/Washington).