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● A new Farm Bill is still a far ways from a Rose Garden bill-signing.  With the costly nutrition title stripped out of the House-passed version and the resulting hard feelings, it is uncertain how this will all come together in a legislative conference with the Senate. Meanwhile it is worth noting that H.R.2642 does contain some interesting policy decisions. For example, one new section–certain to attract the attention of the food safety lobby–requires an economic study to be conducted prior to any regulatory enforcement by the Food and Drug Administration of the Food Safety Modernization Act.

●  Immigration reform legislation remains adrift in the House of Representatives. Floor debate is not expected until September, if then.

●  I plan to attend the United States Apple Association’s annual Outlook Conference in Chicago on  August 22-23, and stay over for the USApple  board of directors’ meeting on Saturday the 24th.  With Nancy Foster’s departure as president set for the last day of August, it should be an interesting gathering in terms of the selection process to identify a new leader for this national trade association of the apple industry.

●  Capital Cant:  “A level playing field” is the stated goal of every set of international trade negotiations initiated in Washington, D.C. and the objective of every trade case filed in the same town.  It is an empty term that sounds imminently fair and is used unsparingly by politicians and industry lobbyists. When you hear this, the real message, as related to imports, is “The other country is beating our brains out with its competitive goods and I want this stopped.”  The corollary on export market issues is when the negotiations with the other country are eventually wrapped up “I expect my industry to have an edge.”