Going outside the Beltway for all of his selections, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced 25 new members of the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee.

The composition of the group drew praise from produce industry advocates.

"It's a great looking committee," said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for the United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C.

The Obama White House has advised agencies not to place registered lobbyists on advisory committees. Still, industry advocates said the committee should do an effective job in presenting industry concerns to the agency.

"The committee is diverse in terms of types of businesses,  geographic locations and sizes," said Kathy Means, vice president of government relations and public affairs for the Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del. "This is a good cross section of the industry."

Means said several members of the committee bring perspectives from not only their company but also the perspective gained by serving in leadership positions.

Means said PMA was pleased to see Mike O'Brien selected. O'Brien is PMA's vice chairman and vice president of produce for Schnuck Markets, St. Louis.

Lorna Christie, executive vice president and chief operating officer of PMA also was selected as a member of the advisory committee.

Christie said she is excited about the chance to serve. “The great thing is not only what you can contribute but what you can learn,” she said Jan. 5.

The committee was first chartered in 2001 and advises Agriculture Secretary on fruit and vegetable related industry issues. The committee was rechartered by USDA for two years in May 2009 the new members will serve a two-year term.

The first meeting of the committee has not yet been scheduled, the USDA said.

USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee Members:

  • Andrea Caroe,  EarthClaims LLC, Calif.;
  • Lorna Christie, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Produce Marketing Association, Newark, Del.;
  • Jeremy Gillam, owner, Gillam Farms, Searcy, Ark.;
  • Alan Hardison,  Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo Inc., Santa Cruz, Calif.;
  • Michael Hollister, vice president of sales and marketing at Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif.;
  • Edwin Kee, Agriculture Secretary, Delaware Department of Agriculture, Dover, Del.;
  • Beth Ann Knorr, local food programs coordinator and market manager at Countrywide Conservancy, Akron, Ohio.;
  • Vaughn Koligian, director of corporate sustainability for Sun-Maid Growers of California, Fresno, Calif.;
  • Tom Lovelace, executive vice president at McEntire Produce, Columbia, S.C.;
  • Lisa McNeece, vice president of foodservice and industrial sales for Bakersfield, Calif.-based Grimmway Farms.;
  • Guy Moore, Larriland Farm, Woodbine, Md.;
  • Paul Newman, organic sales specialist,  First Fruits Marketing of Washington, Yakima.;
  • Robert Nolan, owner, Deer Run Farms, LLC, Lafayette, N.Y.;
  • Dianne Nury, president, Vie-Del Company, Fresno, Calif.;
  • Michael O’Brien, Mike O’Brien, vice president of produce for Schnuck Markets, St. Louis.;
  • Russell Poore, owner, Poore’s Nursery and Farm, Russellville, Ky.;
  • Howard Popoola, vice president, quality assurance,  Topco, Inc. , Skokie, Ill.;
  • Brent Roggie, general manager, National Grape Coop Association, Westfield, N.Y.;
  • William “Gee” Roe III, manager of grove care operations, W.G. Roe & Sons, Inc., Winter Haven, Fla.;
  • William Smittcamp, president, Wawona Frozen Foods, Clovis, Calif.;
  • J. Allen Swann, owner, Swann Farms, Owings, Md.;
  • Maureen Torrey Marshall, vice president of Torrey Farms Inc., Elba, N.Y.;
  • Oscar Vizcarra, owner, Becker Farms, Gasport, N.Y.;
  • Jennifer “Jin Ju” Wilder, president of Coast Produce Co., Los Angeles.; and
  • Rebecca Wilson, Tom Lange Co., Springfield, Ill.