(April 18) VIENNA, Va. — Apple industry veteran Kraig Naasz will leave his position as president of the U.S. Apple Association on May 31 to become president of The Fertilizer Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based agribusiness trade association representing producers, transporters and providers of fertilizer products.

“It’s an opportunity that I’m very excited about, but also with some mixed emotions, given my longstanding ties to the apple industry,” said Naasz, 2001 recipient of the Apple Man of the Year award, given by The Packer and its sister publication, The Grower.

LONG INVOLVEMENT

Naasz, president of the apple association since June 1998, has been involved with apple industry issues since growing up in Yakima, Wash. For eight years, he worked in Washington D.C., for legislators from the apple-producing state, often consulting with Senate and House agricultural committees. For six years before joining U.S. Apple, he was back in Yakima as vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council.

It’s the experience in agriculture and on Capitol Hill that will help in his new role, Naasz said.

SIMILAR ISSUES

“There are a lot of similarities,” he said. “The fact is, The Fertilizer Institute is a member of the agribusiness community and a major player in the agribusiness community. The issues facing the fertilizer industry are as complex as the issues facing the apple industry today.”

During his four-year tenure on the apple association, Naasz oversaw efforts that led to a successful antidumping case involving apple juice concentrate from China, helped secure nearly $200 million in direct federal assistance for growers and boosted campaigns to increase the health and nutritional profile of apples among consumers.

Jim Cranney, vice president of the association, will be its interim president while the group’s executive committee conducts a search. Cranney served as interim president for several months after Naasz’s predecessor, Ellen Terpstra, resigned in February 1998.