February 2013 Fiscal Cliff Averted

Last month, the long-overdue Produce Rule finally surfaced — 547 pages covering some 300 commodities — opening a four-month comment period that will trigger thousands of pages of opinions submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  The Food Safety Modernization Act was passed two years ago.  The Produce Rule won’t be completed for at least another two and final implementation will take another four.  Government never ceases to complicate things.  But so far in our analysis, we think most Western Growers members will not be heavily burdened by the new rules.

Tom Nassif

An Easterner comes West: Nat Feinn, who originally grew up in Connecticut, was a tomato broker who followed the seasons working the various deals including Cuba, Mexico and Florida when he was a young man in the first half of the 20th Century.  His great grandson, Byrne Finkle, said Nat was working the Nogales tomato deal sometime in the 1940s when he was introduced to tomato production in California.  He first started in California repacking tomatoes in the valley for Levy Zentner of San Francisco.  He liked the Golden State and the San Joaquin Valley, so he decided to start a company buying and repacking tomatoes to be sold to various customers.  The year was 1948.  While the firm has evolved and expanded over the years, it still sells tomatoes not so differently than it did 65 years ago.

Tim Linden

Harvesting fresh fruits and vegetables mechanically has always been a goal of forward-thinking agriculturalists.  And today we are closer to fulfilling that goal than ever before.

There has been much success over the past 50 years on the fresh side of the ledger since the development of the mechanical tomato harvester mechanized the processing side of the tomato and kept that industry alive in the face of a huge labor crisis.  Since then some crops have been almost totally mechanized, such as fresh cut spinach, and many other crops use harvesting aids that have reduced the use of labor or greatly increased the efficiency of labor that is used.

Tim Linden

Arizona State Senator Andy Biggs was recently elected President of the Arizona State Senate.  He represents Arizona’s recently-redrawn 12th Legislative District, which encompasses most of Gilbert, Ariz.  Previously, he served in the state House of Representatives and State Senate representing what was the 22nd District.

Tim Linden

The sky is falling is a constant refrain that typically has no bearing to reality when the situation in question plays out.  However, in the world of transportation there are a number of influencers converging that could greatly impact both the cost and availability of the long-haul truck, which, of course, is critical to the movement of fresh produce.

Among the factors that might be impactful are regulations on hours of service, safety issues and wait times at point or origin and destination.  Also of concern is a potential shortage of drivers, and an aging fleet of trucks, which means more breakdowns and longer haul times…two more factors very critical to the movement of refrigerated commodities.

Tim Linden

Last month the 113th Congress was gaveled into order leaving behind one of the most polarized and unproductive Congressional sessions in modern history.  The 112th Congress ended its least-productive year after passing only 80 bills — fewer bills than any other session since records began being kept in 1947.  Now, with the power of the gavel and the New Year, a new Congress has begun.

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