● The American Frozen Food Institute has launched a 30 million dollar national effort to “encourage consumers to take a fresh look at frozen foods.” “Frozen. How Fresh Stays Fresh” is the tag line. This marketing initiative from AFFI, a group led by Kraig Naasz, a former member of our staff at the Northwest Horticultural Council, will surely raise eyebrows at both the United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association. Maybe Tom Stenzel at United will rename his group “United Thawed.”
● Two primary elections were held Tuesday in the Pacific Northwest, with voters in Idaho and Oregon acting to narrow their electoral fields for the November 4, general election. These days winning the Republican primary in Idaho is as good as a lock for an eventual triumph in that state’s general election.
Yesterday all three federal incumbents (all Republicans) in Idaho easily won: U.S. Senator Jim Risch and Representatives Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson. In Oregon, no surprises other than a potentially closer general election race than originally thought for incumbent U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D). He will face Dr. Monica Wehby (R) in the general. Washington state’s primary will be held on August 5.
● One county election held yesterday in Oregon is noteworthy: In Jackson County, home of the Medford pear-growing district, the public passed an ordinance to ban the planting of GMO crops by a percentage margin of 65.9 to 34.1. My favorite poster from the winning side: “Vote Yes: Give Peas a Chance.”
● After the well-publicized introduction of federal voluntary GMO labeling sought by the food industry, the issue seems stalled in Congress. The bill, H.R. 4432, was introduced in the House by Representative Mike Pompeo (R/Kansas) on April 9. So far it has only four cosponsors, and no companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate.
This effort was spearheaded by the Grocery Manufacturers Association. It is noteworthy that GMA’s aggressive lead lobbyist on this controversial labeling issue, Louis Finkel, left at the end of April to become the executive vice-president for government relations at the American Petroleum Institute.
● On June 10 in Chicago, former secretary of state and possible presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is set to give the opening address before a joint convention audience of the United Fresh Produce Association and the Food Marketing Institute.
On June 25, also in Chicago, she is slated to be the keynoter at a meeting of BIO, the trade association for biotechnology. Various press reports give $200,000 as the normal speaking fee charged by Mrs. Clinton: $400k for a few hours work over a couple of weeks time, just from two speeches before food industry executives.