● In 1990, Congress passed a law that resulted in the creation of the standard-setting National Organic Standards Board, now located under the wing of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Fierce policy battles over the rules governing organic foods are often driven by a social view of farming that holds the “spirit” of organics is not met by large, commercial operations. Or, as the Organic Consumers Association says: “Chemical and energy-intensive industrial food and farming poses a mortal threat to the planet.” Neither science nor consistency are the governing considerations of many serving on the NOSB. Since a significant amount of tree fruit is now raised in the Pacific Northwest under the National Organic Program and important production materials such as oxytetracycline for fireblight control are now being considered for elimination, a good representation of our industry’s organic fruit growers needs to be present at the next public meeting of the NOSB, which is scheduled for April 26-29 in Seattle.

● Our industry has enjoyed a decades-old working relationship with the California Tree Fruit Agreement, based in Reedley, California. We have worked together on many agricultural pesticide and technical trade policy issues of common interest. It now appears the CFTA, founded in 1933, may be on its last legs given a termination order issued this past week by USDA of two federal marketing orders, peach and nectarine, that have been key financial mechanisms supporting the CFTA.

● The United Fresh Produce Association, based in Washington, D.C., announced on Monday that it had hired Burleson Smith as its new vice president, environmental affairs and sustainability. He worked in the last Bush Administration as a political appointee at USDA working on agricultural chemical and environmental matters. I plan to renew an acquaintanceship with Mr. Smith at United’s convention, which will be held May 2-5 in New Orleans.

POLITICAL FRUIT: “Sinopec chairman Su Shulin is set to leave Chinese oil and gas group to become governor of Fujian Province, a surprise step that underlines the intense political jockeying in the run-up to the 2012 leadership transition in Beijing. …Mr. Su, 49, is seen as a rising star because of his youth and relatively charmed career—and Fujian, a wealthy coastal province, is a plum position.” Leslie Hook, Financial Times, March 22, 2011.