Christian Schlect // September 21, 2011
- Chairman Lamar Smith (R/Texas) of the House Judiciary Committee insists that a mandatory employer E-Verify program is necessary to better control the number of undocumented workers entering the United States. This week in Washington, D.C., his committee is marking up legislation on such a new federal immigration initiative. We are working primarily through the Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform, ACIR, on this white-hot political issue. ACIR is led by Craig Regelbrugge of the American Nursery and Landscape Association, with legal counsel supplied by Monte Lake. (Mr. Lake and I worked closely together on the immigration reform bill enacted in 1986.) The immediate aim of ACIR is to prevent any legislation mandating E-Verify emerging from the committee unless the immigrant labor needs of U.S. agriculture are fully addressed.
- Earlier this week, President Obama issued an economic plan calling for “mandatory savings” that has captured the full attention of the traditional agricultural interests within the Beltway. Among the cuts advocated specifically for agriculture would be the elimination of direct payments for program crops, less to be spent on crop insurance subsidies, and reductions to the Conservation Reserve Program. As often the case, what is not mentioned is also important. Here no word on the White House desiring to cut USDA’s many export programs, such as MAP.
- The largest single private gift in Washington State University’s history was announced on Tuesday by Washington’s apple and pear growers. Spread over the next eight years, $27 million will be given to enhance WSU’s work in tree fruit research and extension. Along with its direct results, this gift should help with ongoing efforts in Washington, D.C. to convince Congress and the Administration that public agricultural research continues to be viewed as a good investment by those directly engaged in production agriculture.
- In my opinion, if the federal government decides to spend scarce taxpayer money to enhance private sector economic activity, supporting useful and targeted research at universities would seem a better way than the example provided by the Department of Energy’s $535 million dollar loan guarantee to just one—now bankrupt—company, Solyndra.
- The week of October 3, I plan to attend the United Fresh Produce Association’s Washington Public Policy Conference.
Christian Schlect is the President of the Northwest Horticultural Council.
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