(CORRECTED/UPDATED, Jan. 27) Ed Beckman has ended his stint as president of California Tomato Farmers to become chief executive officer of Bellevue, Wash.-based Certified Greenhouse/Hothouse Vegetable Producers Association of North America.

Beckman’s left the tomato cooperative on Jan. 6. He was the head of that group since its inception in 2007.

The tomato farmers board plans to hire an executive director before the start of the California tomato season in early summer.

The greenhouse association was created in mid-2008 to set standards for greenhouse growing. It established a certified greenhouse program.

Member grower-shippers are:

  • Windset Greenhouses LP, Delta, British Columbia;
  • Houweling’s Hot House, Delta; and
  • Village Farms Intl., Delta.

All have operations in the U.S. as well as Canada.

“We’re looking to create a vision that we can move forward on,” Beckman said Jan. 27. “That’s going to focus on the fact that we have a certification program in place covering a broad spectrum, including construction and layout of our operations, food safety, sustainability, and social responsibility.

“We have a clear definition of what a greenhouse is, a prerequisite for membership in our organization. It’s very easy to make a claim that product is greenhouse-grown when it’s really not hydroponic. It may not be in aluminum or steel construction; it may not be using computerized irrigation and climate control. The certification program assures our customers they’re receiving a true hydroponic greenhouse product.”

The tomato cooperative represents seven member growers and about 80% of the state’s fresh tomatoes.

“The board is looking for an individual who can guide CTF through its next phase of growth,” Billy Heller of Tracy, Calif.-based Pacific Triple E, a board member, said in a news release.

“While much has been accomplished during Ed’s tenure, as a leader and model for food safety programs CTF is looking to constantly improve our systems and the new executive director needs to share that commitment and vision.”

Beckman has 24 years of experience in the industry. “My tenure with CTF was a very rewarding time both professionally and personally and I wish them well,” he said.

Jeff Dolan of Newman, Calif.-based The DiMare Co. praised him for helping establish tomato-specific guidelines; mandatory, unannounced government food safety audits of members; and a Web-based database that allows CTF customers to view members’ audit results.

“CTF is now recognized as a leader in food safety and has continued to evolve and improve its programs throughout Ed’s tenure and the members want to acknowledge all of his hard work and achievements,” Dean Janssen of Manteca, Calif.-based Ace Tomato Co., board chairman, said in the release.

Note on correction: The Certified Greenhouse/Hothouse Vegetable Producers Association of North America is based in Bellevue, Wash.; the original story was incorrect. The association has three members, not five.