● Brian Grunenfelder has been named a deputy assistant USTR for agricultural affairs. He leaves his current trade policy job at USDA/Foreign Agricultural Service effective Monday and then will start work at the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Washington, D.C. I have known and worked with the capable Mr. Grunenfelder, a graduate of Washington State University, over the span of his 27 year career at FAS.
● August 1-5, I plan to be in Montreal, Canada, for my first attendance at a meeting that could only have been named by an inspired bureaucrat: The 31st Meeting of the Open-Ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.” The reason for my going is methyl bromide, the chemical fumigant our industry uses for certain export programs, such as fresh cherries to Japan. The focus on methyl bromide—at this United Nations’ working group on the depletion of the ozone layer—is shifting from soil fumigation to quarantine and pre-shipment issues. Before our friends in the Florida tomato and California strawberry industries closely followed this international process, now we may have to become more involved.
● The Washington State Horticultural Association’s annual meeting is set for December 5-7 in Wenatchee. On Tuesday afternoon, the 6th, a food-safety session is planned with a number of experts on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and private and public food safety schemes. An early commitment to participate in this session has been obtained from the Washington, D.C.-based Bob Keeney, the deputy administrator for fruit and vegetable programs of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. We will use this opportunity to have Mr. Keeney also meet with the NHC’s governing board and other industry leaders during his stay.
POLITICAL FRUIT: “Budget experts said the Biden group identified much of the low-hanging fruit—cuts to agriculture subsidies and federal pensions, along with some new fees….” Peter Nicholas and Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau, Los Angeles Times, July 11, 2011.