Immigration reform is another major issue. A lot of growers right now are really feeling the impact of not having an immigration program that works. And so we are really working with Congress, pushing Congress that something needs to be done this year, regardless of whether or not it is an election year. They need to focus on this issue; it is not just impacting California growers, it is impacting growers in Arizona, the Northeast, everywhere. One solution is not it. Just fixing H-2A is a component of it but is not the solution that will work for everyone.
The farm bill is the next issue. The biggest question in the air right now is which year will it get done. Our focus is continuing to strengthen those programs that have been successful for California.
11:07 a.m. Karst: What did you think of the recent Office of Inspector General report about USDA AMS oversight of research and promotion orders? It didn’t seem too critical of the USDA in its findings.
11:09 a.m. Pegg: Which is rare for OIG. The reason I had asked OIG to look at USDA oversight of the checkoff programs was that I wanted more information. I think it is good to have a third party look at that, and that is really the purpose of OIG.
That’s why I asked the OIG to look at our oversight while we simultaneously developed better guidelines and looked at where improvements could be made. I’m glad OIG recognized that. I think AMS is continuously looking at how they can improve oversight of those programs because they can be vulnerable, but they can also be really successful for our producers. They can be a great tool for our producers and I’ve seen that.