United-PMA and USDA-FDA: shotgun weddings?

01/16/2012 08:23:00 AM
Tom Karst

 The LinkedIn poll that I created on the PMA-United Fresh merger expires about 6 p.m. Central Standard Time tonight. So far, the vote is running 5 to 1 in favor of the merger.

You have heard the White House pitch for authority to reorganize government? Here is what the first action point would be, per a  White House news release:

  Currently, there are six major departments and agencies that focus primarily on business and trade in the federal government.  The six are: U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.  

This is redundant and inefficient. Small businesses often face a maze of agencies when looking for even the most basic answers to the most basic questions. There is a whole host of websites, toll-free numbers and customer service centers that at times offer them differing advice. The result is a system that is not working for our small businesses.  

The President is proposing to consolidate those six departments and agencies into one Department with one website, one phone number and one mission – helping American businesses succeed.

TK: Now if a Republican had proposed this, most folks would think it would be a good idea. As it is, President Obama has a hard time selling himself as the strict caretaker of America's fiscal restraint and promoter of  business-friendly bureaucracy.   Veteran journalist Jerry Hagstrom has also reported that the White House would be anxious to use this coveted authority to create a single federal food safety authority. Melding the USDA and FDA food safety oversight into one agency has been too tough to accomplish in Congress, so the White House is looking for an end-around. The clash of cultures would be too great for the plan to succeed, Dr. Richard Raymond ( a former USDA official, by the way) argues in this opinion piece at Food Safety News.

Like United and PMA, the odds are long that FDA and USDA will ever become one, no matter the potential benefits. 

  Join the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group.Check out the stats from LinkedIn on the growth of the group. Facebook link here.

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Follow me on twitter @tckarst

E-mail me at tkarst@thepacker.com

 



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