David Gombas (left), senior vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, presents Dick Minor, president of the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and a partner with Minor Produce Inc., with United Fresh’s produce industry advocate of the year award.
David Gombas (left), senior vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, presents Dick Minor, president of the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association and a partner with Minor Produce Inc., with United Fresh’s produce industry advocate of the year award.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — In recognizing the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Association for its service to the industry, David Gombas said the group has become known not only for work on statewide issues, but on labor, food safety and other national issues.

Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for the United Fresh Produce Association, spoke about the Georgia group — United Fresh’s produce industry advocate of the year — during a Jan. 7 awards ceremony at the 2012 Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

“United Fresh considers this a prestigious award recognizing an organization that has truly gone above and beyond the call of duty,” Gombas said about the association, which formed in 1996.

Dick Minor, the Georgia association’s president and a partner with Minor Produce Inc. and Minor Bros. Farm, Leslie, commended association immediate past president Bill Brim, owner of Lewis Taylor Farms Inc., Tifton, and Charles Hall, the association’s executive director, for their work.

“They go to a national meeting and everyone knows them,” Minor said. “That’s something to get such recognition. They’re recognized figures up there.”

In other awards, Chip Blalock, executive director of the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo, recognized blueberry grower Carlos Vickers, of Vickers Farms, Nashville, Ga., as the Sunbelt Expo Georgia farmer of the year.

Vickers is a member of the Michigan Blueberry Growers Association, Grand Junction, and markets through MBG Marketing and Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.

Duke Lane Jr., president of Lane Packing LLC, Fort Valley, presented Jeff Wainwright, president of Taylor Orchards, Reynolds, with the Georgia Peach Council’s 2011 Mr. Peach award.

Additionally, United Fresh recognized Beth Bland Oleson, the Georgia association’s director of education and food safety, for participating on United Fresh’s food safety technical board. She was also selected as a member of the 17th United Fresh produce industry leadership program class.