Our Path Forward in 2014:
Patience, Fortitude & Tolerance
In the current circumstances that we all live and work,
it is inherent that we all exercise one-two-or all three of
those words to persevere. Patience – Fortitude – Tolerance. To put those ideas into action was pronounced
loudly throughout the association and its members in
2013 far more than any of us could ever script in a
To indicate that the 2013 year was historical would be
an understatement of the evidence left behind in the
wake of weather and government interactions (and legislative inactions) with our industry.
Radical weather patterns caused historic rainfall
throughout the eastern seaboard of the country, creating diseases pressures and havoc that has not been seen
in memories (possibly never to this extent). Drought
conditions continued in Texas. Mexico had a most
mysterious weather pattern that went from one extreme
to the other. It was a meteorologist’s nightmare year to
predict, and one that even the Farmer’s Almanac could
not accurately predict.
During the year there were two significant government
interventions that were endured. The Food & Drug
Administration selected cantaloupe growers to inspect
in 2013, which resulted in many watermelon operations
also being inspected that also grow cantaloupes (or did
in the recent past). And, the U.S. Department of Labor
in conjunction with the Wage & Hour folks selected the
watermelon industry as their primary target for audits.
And now, we move on to the ever-evolving legislative
stand-off at the O.K. Corral (what we all know as Washington, D.C.) Let’s take a quick look at the major issues
that they are facing in the next few months alone:
- Federal Budget, Huge Deficit and the Debt Ceiling
- Middle Eastern Violence
- The Affordable Health Care Act (ObamaCare)
- 2014 Mid-Term Elections
- 2016 Presidential Campaigns
With a list that is far longer than this, one can begin
to see that Washington has their hands over-filled with
work to do for the people. Unfortunately, the predictions for the near future are more rhetoric and ideological political standoffs, little deal making, party-postur-ing in preparation for next year’s mid-term elections,
candidates preparing to officially announce their candidacy for the 2016 Presidential campaigns, and some
legislation remaining on the sidelines.
We have two significant legislative items that Congress
and the President must address this year without fail.
We cannot allow them to push them aside again to focus
only on the issues of the moment:
Farm Bill ….. The House barely passed a Farm Bill that
did not include the SNAP program (i.e. food stamps)
for the first time in many years. And they also passed a
nutrition bill (to address cuts to the SNAP program) that
will be combined with the ‘farm only’ Farm Bill. As of
this article writing, they will go to conference committee with the Senate to attempt to merge the two chamber’s bills, revote on the agreed-to package, and send it
to the President.
Immigration Reform ….. This lone topic is the one
opportunity that the Republican-led House of Representatives, and the Republican Party have, to begin their
long trek to regain lost ground with the ever growing
Hispanic population (and key swing voters). If Congress does not complete their work on Immigration
reform before the end of this coming winter, reliable
predictions are that Congress will not be able to address
it for another 6-7 years.
They have their hands full with a great deal of legisla-
tive work to accomplish in a short period of time. But
yet, we must not allow them to forget about us. We
need a Farm Bill. We need Immigration reform that
creates a legal workforce. And then, we need to get
this Congress to work on ‘fixes’ to the food safety
law and reduce regulations that are burdensome to
After the year that you endured in 2013, let’s make
sure that our legislators are doing their jobs for us –
House – Senate – President. The people should come
first; not politics and ideologies.
FDA Taking Closer Look
at ‘Antibacterial’ Soap
Just when we thought that it was safe to
wash our hands with antibacterial soap we
find two federal agencies in a new review.
When you’re buying soaps and body washes, do you
reach for the bar or bottle labeled “antibacterial”? Are
you thinking that these products, in addition to keeping
you clean, will reduce your risk of getting sick or passing on germs to others? Not necessarily, according to
experts at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Every day, consumers use antibacterial soaps and body
washes at home, work, school and in other public
settings. Especially because so many consumers use
them, FDA believes that there should be clearly demonstrated benefits to balance any potential risks.
In fact, there currently is no evidence that over-the-counter (OTC) antibacterial soap products are any
more effective at preventing illness than washing with
plain soap and water, says Colleen Rogers, Ph.D., a
lead microbiologist at FDA. Moreover, antibacterial
soap products contain chemical ingredients, such as
triclosan and triclocarban, which may carry unnecessary risks given that their benefits are unproven.
“New data suggest that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh
the benefits,” Rogers says. There are indications that
certain ingredients in these soaps may contribute to
bacterial resistance to antibiotics, and may have unanticipated hormonal effects that are of concern to FDA.
In light of these data, the agency issued a proposed
rule on Dec. 13, 2013 that would require manufacturers to provide more substantial data to demonstrate
the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial soaps. The
proposed rule covers only those consumer antibacterial soaps and body washes that are used with water.
It does not apply to hand sanitizers, hand wipes or
antibacterial soaps that are used in health care settings
such as hospitals.
According to Rogers, the laboratory tests that have
historically been used to evaluate the effectiveness of
antibacterial soaps do not directly test the effect of a
product on infection rates. That would change with
FDA’s current proposal, which would require studies
that directly test the ability of an antibacterial soap to
provide a clinical benefit over washing with non-anti-bacterial soap, Rogers says.
Antibacterial soaps (sometimes called antimicrobial or
antiseptic soaps) contain certain chemical ingredients
that plain soaps do not. These ingredients are added
to many consumer products in an effort to reduce or
prevent bacterial contamination.
A large number of liquid soaps labeled “antibacterial”
contain triclosan, an ingredient of concern to many environmental and industry groups. Animal studies have
shown that triclosan may alter the way hormones work
in the body. While data showing effects in animals
don’t always predict effects in humans, these studies
are of concern to FDA as well, and warrant further
investigation to better understand how they might affect humans.
In addition, laboratory studies have raised the possibility that triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Such resistance can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of medical treatments.
Moreover, recent data suggest that exposure to these
active ingredients is higher than previously thought,
raising concerns about the potential risks associated
with their use regularly and over time.
FDA is emphasizing that hand washing is one of the
most important steps people can take to avoid getting
sick and to prevent spreading germs to others. Another
good source for tips and information about benefits of
appropriate hand washing is the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). Consumers can go to
How do you tell if a product is antibacterial? Most antibacterial products have the word “antibacterial” on
the label. Also, a Drug Facts label on a soap or body
wash is a sure sign a product contains antibacterial
ingredients. Cosmetics must list the ingredients, but
are not required to carry a Drug Facts Label.
FDA and EPA are reviewing the effects of triclosan
from two different perspectives.
EPA regulates the use of triclosan as a pesticide, and
is in the process of updating its assessment of the effects of triclosan when it is used in pesticides. FDA’s
focus is on the effects of triclosan when it is used by
consumers on a regular basis in hand soaps and body
washes. By sharing information, the two agencies will
be better able to measure the exposure and effects
of triclosan and how these differing uses of triclosan
may affect human health.
Jake Owen Blessed
Watermelon & Camera
October 8, 2013; Written by Alison Bonaguro –
It’s that time of year again when we start to reflect
on all the blessings in our lives. Those lists usually
start with family and end with more family. But Jake
Owen’s list? His has a few out-there items that may
make you think outside the box when you start to
count your own blessings.
Owen, of course, has his wife Lacey and his baby girl
Pearl at the top of the list.
“They are the ones to hit the pause button on my crazy
life,” Owen told People magazine in their latest country issue. “My little girl, when she looks at me, I’m
her caretaker, her provider and her comforter. It puts
a lot of responsibility upon my shoulders, but it’s a
responsibility that I truly enjoy and am thankful for.”
Owen also says he is grateful for his dog Merle and
for the health of his father, who’s now 100 percent
cancer-free after eight months of treatment for throat
But here’s where Owen’s list takes kind of a sharp
turn. He’s thankful for cold watermelon.
“Growing up in Florida, I was always eating watermelon,” he said. “I still think of all the times I got
to sit with my granddad under his carport and talk
about life while we’d spit watermelon seeds out into
the yard. Then my grandma would get mad when the
vines would start growing.”
Also on his list is his camera because he says he can
“snap a moment in time and preserve it.” Like when
his dad got to hold Pearl.
“When my dad was in the hospital, he got to hold my
little girl, and that was the one thing that put a big
smile on his face,” Owen recalled. “And I got a great
photo of that.”