Members of the Western Growers’ Board of Directors who attended this week’s Washington, D.C. Board Meeting left town clear about one thing: despite what is being said in the media about immigration reform being dead, there still remains a window of opportunity for action this year. Led by Western Growers' Chairman Bruce Taylor and CEO and President Tom Nassif, members of WG’s Board came to D.C. with messages for each party.
For Republicans, board members stressed the need to take action on immigration reform issues as soon as possible to produce a bill that can be conferenced with the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill which passed nearly a year ago. The message to Democrats in Congress and the administration was, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” Compromise is needed on both sides to move the issue forward, especially as the window for action continues to diminish.
In return, board members heard from key administration officials and members of Congress that a window of opportunity exists between now and August 1 – the date when the House is expected to go into their August recess – for major action to occur. But that window is quickly disappearing. With only 31 scheduled legislative days left before the House recesses, board members urged immediate action. The window for opportunity is even slimmer beyond August, with only 12 scheduled legislative days on the House calendar.
On water issues, board members heard from all the important players. It was clear from the discussions that members of Congress are committed to action that can help our members. Following their Tuesday meetings, board members had the opportunity to meet with Senator Dianne Feinstein, a key figure in the ongoing water battle, as well as a multitude of House members who addressed both water and immigration issues. Board members met with several California delegation members, including: House Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy; Congressmen Jim Costa, Darrell Issa, Jeff Denham, Doug LaMalfa, Mike Thompson, Juan Vargas and John Garamendi. Members also met with Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick from Arizona.
At a Wednesday night dinner, Congressman Jim Costa addressed board members on both water and immigration issues and thanked them for their work on immigration reform. In turn, members a have been grateful for his support on water issues.
Bruce Taylor, Tom Nassif and Board Member Steve Patricio gave interviews to Pat Haggerty of This Week in Agriculture on immigration reform, water issues and food safety issues, respectively.
A number of administration officials also made themselves available to meet with board members. Celia Munoz, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council spoke to board members about immigration; Letty Belin, senior counselor to the deputy secretary at the Interior Department addressed water issues, and Allison Weideman, agriculture counselor from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spoke to board members about ‘Waters of the U.S.,’ perchlorate and pesticide issues; while Roberta Wagner, deputy director of regulatory affairs at FDA’s Center of Food Safety addressed food safety issues.
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