● There have been glimmerings of activity this week on the long-stagnate immigration front. The Agricultural Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR) held a conference call to discuss an initiative by Representative Dan Lundgren (R/California) that would attempt to provide agricultural employers with a new legal way to acquire needed immigrant labor. The proposed flexible program would be administered by the Department of Agriculture, not Labor. This is being considered against the dark background of the House Judiciary Committee’s present thrust to achieve E-Verify, an immigration enforcement program opposed by most employers. More discussions on Mr. Lundgren’s initiative are set for next week.
● Word of the welcomed progress toward resolving the NAFTA cross-border trucking dispute, which results in a significant and immediate tariff reduction for our apples, pears, and cherries shipped to Mexico, came into our office in a flurry from multiple Washington, D.C., sources over the past few days, once again proving that good news travels fast and success has a thousand fathers.
● Approval of pending free trade agreements (Colombia, Panama, and South Korea) fitfully moved ahead this week in committees on both sides of Capitol Hill. Final votes on all three could come soon if a serious partisan dispute over funding of the Trade Adjustment Act, a displaced worker program, is successfully finessed.
● Rayne Pegg, administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, will be leaving her position in Washington, D.C., next Friday to return to California. She was first named to head AMS in May of 2009.
POLITICAL FRUIT: “Granted that the president gets the final say and even assuming he got it right in this case