(June 13) Autumn Veazey, who started work as the new director of legislative affairs, for the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association on June 5, says her family’s history in the produce industry motivates her to advocate for the industry.

She said her father, Johnny Veazey, grows peppers, watermelons, tomatoes and other produce for the family business, Veazey Plant Co., Tifton, Ga.

She grew up picking tomatoes and learning about the administrative side of the business — experience that made her feel deeply connected to the industry, she said.

“When I go to fight for the produce industry, it’s more than just that I’m employed there,” Veazey said. “It’s part of who I am.”

Veazey’s mother, Teresa Lasseter, also works to secure the future of the agriculture industry. Lasseter is administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

Robert Guenther, vice president of public policy for United, said in a news release that he expects Veazey’s experiences and contacts to make her integral to the group’s government relations work.

Guenther was not available for comment.

In addition to her family ties, her political and legal work has given her opportunities to build important relationships. Before joining United, Veazey served as a litigation attorney for a law firm in Marietta, Ga., for three years.

In 2000, she was campaign manager for then-U.S. Rep. Saxby Chambliss’ re-election. Chambliss is now chairman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee.

Before that, she worked as a legislative aide for Washington, D.C.-based The Redding Firm, an agricultural lobbying company, from 1998-2000. In 1997, she worked as a summer intern for U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell, R.-Ga.

Veazey earned a degree in political science in 1998 and a law degree in 2003, she said.

Veazey succeeds Keira Franz, who held the position for three years before accepting a government affairs position with the Washington, D.C.-based National Association of Conservation Districts.