Sunkist, Wonderful Citrus, and CCM made the rounds in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday outlining priorities in several Congressional offices. House and Senate Ag Committees and key Congressional offices, including newcomer T J Cox were all given a briefing on priority concerns for the new Congress. “Lots of offices still under renovation,” notes CCM’s Joel Nelsen, “but the welcome mat was out in all offices which was refreshing.” This is the first of two visits this month as the California team will be joined by leadership from Texas and Florida industries later this month for two briefings, one in the House with the other in the Senate, to provide information on the use of federal dollars specific to the ACP/HLB program.
On Wednesday and Thursday they participated in a joint session with colleagues from around the country identifying priorities and strategies. These discussions focused on Farm Bill implementation, trade issues, infrastructure, immigration, and food safety or proposed FSMA rules. Since the romaine lettuce challenge, FDA is making a concerted effort to correct deficiencies in the existing program. Nelsen notes that “Citrus is part of a solution without a problem that creates burdens and costs. Efforts to modify existing regulations need to be vetted with permanent crops and other sectors not having the challenges of leafy greens. More burdens on our commodity by customers and/ or government because of failures by others are not acceptable.” A chorus of support was raised by the 40 or so entities in the room after which United Fresh, the host, committed to a review by parties not intended to be affected.