● Sequestration is set to go into effect on March 1. I do not see this action being averted, so large automatic budget cuts in most federal programs and services will likely kick in. The only question is how quickly after March 1 before House Republicans and the White House reach a political agreement to revoke this blunt policy instrument. I think the budget solution that is known as sequestration is somewhat like our region’s Sasquatch: to be feared, but, in truth, never really to be found.
● President Obama’s nominee to lead the Interior Department is a Seattle-based executive, Sally Jewell, president of the out-of-doors outfitter REI. This may pose a problem for former Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire’s appointment hopes: having two cabinet members from the same small state would be unusual.
● U.S. representatives Doc Hastings (R/Washington) and Jim Costa (D/California) will serve in the 213th Congress as co-chairmen of the House Specialty Crop Caucus.
● Hill Moves:
—U.S. Senator Mike Johanns (R/Nebraska), U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 2005 to 2008, has announced he will not run for reelection to the Senate in 2014.
— Nathan Rea, legislative director for U.S. Representative Walden (R/Oregon), is leaving the political field and heading back next week to the agricultural fields of Oregon after a good run of years on Capitol Hill.
—Dan Sadlosky, a native of New York, is the new legislative assistant responsible for agriculture, among other issues, for U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler (R/Washington).
● Mark Murai, president of the California Strawberry Commission, resigned in early February to take a job with a private agricultural company. Mr. Murai had served with me on the board of the Alliance for Food and Farming.
● Another personnel change with impact on the Alliance is this week’s announced departure, effective February 28, of Lorna Christie as executive vice president of the Produce Marketing Association.
I plan to travel next Wednesday to Sacramento to participate in the annual board of directors’ meeting of the Alliance for Food and Farming, a group working on, for example, public relation efforts to combat the Environmental Working Group over its misdirected annual “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables with chemical residues. PMA is a great supporter of the Alliance, and Ms. Christie is on the agenda for the Sacramento meeting.