Others had better luck.
“It was a good day for us,” said Chris Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, Yakima, Wash. Schlect was part of a WPPC group that visited the offices of four lawmakers from the state of Washington. and three of the lawmakers spoke with the group. Schlect said both Democrats and Republican expressed passion and frustration about the government shutdown.
There is a sense that once Congress gets beyond the government shutdown and the debt ceiling debates, work can be accomplished on the farm bill and immigration reform, said
John Pandol, director of special projects at Pandol Bros. Inc., Delano, Calif. Pandol said some of the government’s behavior during the shutdown was childish, including taking down agency websites and preventing staff from communicating by e-mail after the shutdown began.
The challenges and shortcomings of the H-2A agricultural guest worker program were addressed in a WPPC farm labor workshop, Guenther said.
“The takeaway from that is that we can’t rely on H-2A only fixes to solve the problem of a workable guest worker program,” he said. “It was a good discussion of what messages we can bring to the Hill on the continuing challenges with immigration reform,” he said.
At the food safety workshop, also on Oct.1, David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology with United Fresh, said there were discussions about planned industry comments on FDA’s proposed food safety rules.
“I heard strong support for a second round of proposed rules because everybody gets it there is going to have to be significant changes in the proposed rules and we want a shot of seeing those changes before they become final changes,” he said.
Gombas also said industry leaders discussed the how the FDA proposed foreign supplier verification regulation could have a significant effect on the import community. Additional work and liabilities with the proposed rule are just now coming into focus, he said. Water standards and metrics of the FDA’s produce safety rule were considered in the workshop; Gombas said many leaders don’t think the FDA’s water testing requirements are science driven.
Industry leaders also said the definition of a farm must be changed in the FDA’s food safety rules, he said.
“The culmination of our thinking is that any operation that handles whole intact fresh produce should be under the produce safety rule, regardless if it is a farm, a packhouse on the farm, a packhouse that allows their neighbors to use the same packhouse, or the largest commercial packhouse in downtown Philadelphia,” he said.
Gombas said the produce safety rule is better suited to cover the safety standards of those packinghouses than the FDA’s preventive controls rule.