After a more than three-year absence, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee is back in business.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service oversees the 25-member committee, which will meet up to two times per year to advise the secretary of agriculture on issues affecting the fruit and vegetable industry, according to the release.

The committee was first chartered in 2001 and began in 2002. Since then, the committee has met 14 times and developed more than 60 statements and recommendations for the USDA, according to the release.

The committee last met in March 2011. The USDA opened up nominations for a new slate of committee members in November.

Leaders of Western Growers, United Fresh Produce Association and the Produce Marketing Association all expressed support for the advisory role of the committee on July 28.

AMS Administrator Anne Alonzo said the committee’s input will be valued.

“The new members will advise the department on how to best meet the industry’s needs related to issues such as food safety and nutrition education, among others,” she said in the release.

Jim Brownlee, director of public affairs for the AMS, said the primary reason for the delay in naming the group was to make sure the committee has a diverse pool of members to draw on.

“We’re doing that across all advisory committees/boards, therefore it’s taking more time as we work with outside groups, including some Congressional delegations, to get a list of qualified nominees,” he said.

Eleven of the members will serve two-year terms and 14 will serve three-year terms, according to the release.

The following members have terms from 2014-2016:

  • Virginia Barnes, Barnes Farm, Hastings, Fla.;
  • Richard Ha Jr., Hamakua Springs Country Farms, Hilo, Hawaii;
  • Ricke Kress, Southern Gardens Citrus, Clewiston, Fla.;
  • Paul Newman, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers/Columbia Valley Fruit, Wenatchee, and Union Gap, Wash.;
  • Robert Nolan, Deer Run Farms, Brookhaven, N.Y.;
  • Christopher Puentes, Interfresh Inc., Orange, Calif.;
  • Jin Ju Wilder, Valley Fruit and Produce Co., Los Angeles;
  • Vaughn Koligian, Sun-Maid Growers of California, Kingsburg;
  • Diane Smith, Michigan Apple Committee, Lansing, Mich.;
  • Beth Knorr, Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, Peninsula, Ohio; and
  • Brent Roggie, National Grape Cooperative Association, Westfield, N.Y., and Concord, Mass.


The following have three-year terms until 2017:


  • Ben Burkett, B&B Farms, Petal, Miss.;
  • Helen Dietrich, Ridgeview Orchards, Conklin, Mich.;
  • Kristine Ellor, Phillips Mushroom Farms, Kennett Square, Pa.;
  • Richard Hanas, A. Duda and Sons Inc., Oviedo, Fla.;
  • James Alan Johnson, Carzalia Valley Produce, Columbus, N.M.;
  • Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Co., Salinas, Calif.;
  • Jorge Vazquez, Latin Specialties, Houston;
  • Andy Shoemaker, Taylor Fresh Foods, Salinas;
  • David Yanda, Lakeside Foods, Manitowoc, Wis.;
  • Tiffany Boaldin, Golden Eagle Casino-Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas, Horton, Kan.;
  • Thomas Williams, Spartan Nash, Edina, Minn.;
  • Catherine Burns, Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.;
  • Carlos Castaneda, Castaneda and Sons, Arroyo Grande, Calif.; and
  • Roland McReynolds, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Pittsboro, N.C.