The government is dysfunctional.  The stock market is a roller coaster.  As we are about to slip into another new and chaotic year, we may need a few inspirational quotes to help us mark the occasion.

Ralph Waldo EmersonEach year’s regret are envelopes in which messages of hope are found for the new year.

Vern McLellan: What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.

Oprah WinfreyCheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

C.S. LewisYou are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.



Some short takes as we close out the new year...

An elementary school in California has given kids the experience of selling produce.
I saw the story online in the Hanford Sentinel, which described an after-school monthly produce stand at Terry Elementary School.

Kudos to Fresno, Calif.-based OK Produce, who has partnered with the school to deliver fresh produce for the market.
According to the report, there are perhaps a dozen schools in Fresno County that are featuring kid-run produce markets.


More big publicity for Apeel. Check out coverage at with the headline "This Bill Gates-backed start-up is fighting world hunger by making your avocados last longer"


Newspapers are not happy about the latest effort to reform the advertising requirements for the H-2A guest worker program, found at "Modernizing Recruitment Requirements for the Temporary Employment of H-2A Foreign Workers in the United States"

From the notice of proposed rulemaking:

In particular, the Department is proposing to replace the print newspaper advertisements that its regulations currently require with electronic advertisements posted on the internet, which the Department believes will be a more effective and efficient means of disseminating information about job openings to U.S. workers. The Department is proposing to replace, rather than supplement, the newspaper requirements because it believes that exclusive electronic advertisements posted on a website appropriate for the workers likely to apply for the job opportunity in the area of intended employment would best ensure that U.S. workers learn of job opportunities.


More than 60 comments were received by the Dec. 28 due date. Here is an excerpt from the U.S. Apple Association comment:

We support the proposed rule to replace the current requirement for print advertisements with online job postings. This modernization of the system will bring increased efficiency, and reduce costs for employers.  The proposal will also reduce costs for potential farm workers who will no longer need to purchase a print newspaper, which can cost as much as $3 for the Sunday edition.

The proposed rule asks for comments regarding several provisions. USApple’s responses are as follows:

1. Should DOL establish “qualifying criteria,” such as minimum number of unique visitors per month, or more specifically define the types of websites that would fulfill this proposed regulatory requirement?

USApple does not support the establishment of more specific criteria, the existing language in the proposal already addresses the need for the job information to be posted online in such a way as to ensure a broad audience.

More specific criteria such as number of unique visitors may not be readily available to employers. In addition, the type of sites viewed by U.S. workers seeking agricultural positions may not have the level of traffic of other less appropriate sites. In addition, overly prescriptive requirements could impede future change and improvements to the program due to improvements in technology and changes in common practice.

The idea that the Department could maintain a “national H-2A job seeker website” is the best option. It would resolve many of these questions and offer a clear path for workers seeking these positions.

2. Should DOL exclude advertisements placed on websites of agricultural associations that serve as agents or employers of H-2A workers?

Allowing, but not requiring advertisements on Association websites will provide an additional opportunity to reach potential employees. This option should be allowed.

3. Should DOL continue to allow employers to advertise in print newspapers as an alternative to the website requirement?

USApple supports maintaining print advertisements as an option. While the majority of employers find it to be expensive and, more importantly, not an effective means of attracting U.S. workers, there may be instances, in specific markets where print is preferable and more effective. In addition, there may be some employers who do not have Internet access and traditional advertising would better suit their needs. 
In conclusion, USApple appreciates the Department’s efforts to improve the H-2A program. We are pleased to provide our comments and support of this important effort.

TK: U.S. Apple hits the right notes in this modest proposed reform of the H-2A program. Let’s get it done — er, as soon as the federal government gets back to work.