USDA advisory committee needed

11/15/2013 11:06:00 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

Is it a coincidence that in the two-plus year hiatus of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee we’ve seen no progress on the farm bill or immigration reform, and have seen a government shut down and increasing polarization in the capitol?

Probably.

The advisory committee is an important group to help USDA have the proper perspective on its policies that affect the fruit and vegetable industry, but it doesn’t create miracles.

It’s good that the new deputy administrator for the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Charles Parrott, says he plans to re-establish the committee as soon as possible.

Parrott succeeds Bob Keeney, who retired a year ago, but was a champion of the committee since its founding in 2002.

It has shown its value in advising ag secretaries on nutrition, farm bill and Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act regulations.

It’s a rare Washington, D.C., creation out of which everyone seems to get some value. USDA gets to connect with actual producers and business leaders, lobbying groups get to submit nominations and consult the committee members, and the members themselves provide opinions and direction and get to learn how government works.

With government’s dysfunction, delays and bickering, here’s a good idea with little downside that needs to get going as soon as possible.

It won’t bring any miracles, but it can’t hurt to try.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.



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