Western Growers board members from Arizona and California, along with fellow ag leaders from Colorado and New Mexico, concluded meetings held this week in Washington, D.C., with several members of Congress and the Obama Administration.
Discussions touched every topic of concern to specialty crop producers and included the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act; possible solutions to trade agreement negotiations, West Coast port disruptions, and passage of the trade promotion authority bill; reform of the Endangered Species Act; GMO labeling; easing border crossings in Yuma and Imperial and APHIS inspections; immigration reform and streamlining the H-2A visa program; and western water issues including the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and western water legislation.
Congressional representatives speaking with WG members included: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy; Jim Costa, David Valadao, Darrell Issa, Jeff Denham, Doug LaMalfa, Juan Vargas, Zoe Lofgren, Xavier Becerra, Tony Cardenas, Sam Farr and Jim Costa. Board members also met with Representative Ruben Gallego from Arizona, and Rodney Davis from Illinois, Collin Peterson from Minnesota, Frank Lucas from Oklahoma and House Ag Chairman Mike Conaway from Texas. The Japanese Minister for Economic Affairs Kanji Yamaouchi met with the group at a dinner meeting Tuesday.
A number of administration officials also met with board members on Thursday to talk about specific federal regulatory concerns. Alejandro Mayorkas, deputy secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security, discussed drivers’ licenses in California for undocumented workers, and improvements that could be made to the H-2A visas program while comprehensive immigration reform is pending. Tim Male, deputy associate director for wildlife for the Council on Environmental Quality, spoke to board members as well. WG’s Matt McInerney and Robert Sakata from Sakata Farms in Colorado participated in a meeting on trade held today at the White House.