Visit but don’t stay - The Packer

Visit but don’t stay

10/04/2013 10:02:00 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

More than 500 produce industry leaders got to see Washington gridlock with their own eyes as the government shutdown started during United Fresh’s Washington Public Policy Conference, the industry’s top lobbying event.

There was no doubt frustration caused by government representatives’ speech cancellations, but some attendees still got to meet with their Congressional representatives and their industry peers, so it wasn’t a wasted event.

Then when the event was over, attendees probably went back to their homes and businesses and resumed their lives pretty much as before.

That’s the thing: The government dysfunction looks awful up close, but it doesn’t stop the wheels of the produce business or consumers from demanding and eating its products.

The industry has never before and does not now need a functional government for it to operate, and thank goodness for that.

That’s not to say the key issues the industry debated with lawmakers aren’t important. But still, only about 1% of the last farm bill involved fresh produce. Immigration and labor remain problems, but they’re not keeping most crops from being harvested, packed and sold. The recent food safety rules haven’t been implemented yet, and there’s willingness on the government’s part to listen to industry concerns.

While the produce industry may not like the government inactivity going on now, too much government activity can also be bad.

Industry members should keep the government problems in proper perspective and show pride in their business independence from such a mess.

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