(Jan. 7) ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Jerry Welcome, vice president of member services for the Arlington-based Packaging Machinery Manufacturer’s Institute will take over as president of the International Fresh-cut Produce Association on Feb. 2.

He succeeds Edith Garrett, who left the association in December to set up a produce consulting business out of her home in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Welcome isn’t exactly new to the agriculture industry. After earning bachelor’s degree in American studies from Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, Vt., Welcome went to Washington. D.C., in 1977. There he went to work for then House SpeakerThomas “Tip” O’Neill, D-Mass., as an assistant.

From there he went on to serve for seven years as a staff policy analyst on the House Agriculture Committee for Tom Foley, D-Wash. He later worked as director of legislative affairs for the American Meat Institute until 1991, when he went to PMMI.

At PMMI, he was responsible for a variety of areas, including communications, membership, education, technical services programs and managing PackExpo, the institute’s annual trade show.

His work at PMMI has kept him in close contact with many of the issues — legislative and otherwise — that face the food industry.

“He’s had quite a bit of experience in association management,” said Craig Delaney, chairman of IFPA’s board of directors and executive vice president and chief financial officer for Ready Pac Produce, Irwindale, Calif. “He’s also worked up on (Capitol) Hill, so that’s something we’re looking to leverage as well. He also has trade show management experience, which is important. His experience lines up very nicely with us.”

Delaney said Welcome’s first few months will be an orientation process, which he will spend meeting with board members and association members to better understand the issues and challenges that processors face.

Welcome said he has already gotten the sense that IFPA is not quite like other organizations in the produce industry.

“My feeling is that this is an organization that came about because the processors were a little bit different animal,” he said. “As they grow as processors, they are going to tend to have a lot of different issues from growers.”

One of the first major duties Welcome will face is the IFPA conference and exhibition, which will take place April 22-24 in Reno, Nev.

IFPA names president
Jerry Welcome