USDA appoints Wilkins to Fruit & Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee
By: Norman Martin
A highly-respected graduate of Texas Tech University's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources has been appointed to the recently re-established federal government's Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. Tommy Wilkins, who graduated from Texas Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science in 1982, is director of sales for Grow Farms Texas, a grower and distributor of high-quality, regionally grown fruits and vegetables in Donna, Texas, some 19 miles east of McAllen.
Wilkins will serve a two-year term on the committee. Prior to joining Grow Farm Texas in 2013, he served as director of produce procurement with United Supermarkets, and earlier was partner and owner of Wilkins Genova Inc.
The purpose of the FVIAC advisory committee is to examine the full spectrum of issues faced by the fruit and vegetable industry, and provide recommendations and ideas to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on how USDA can tailor its programs to better meet the fruit and vegetable industry's needs.
Program leaders noted that committee members represent organic and non-organic growers, shippers, wholesalers, retailers, industry trade associations, importers, processors, foodservice suppliers, food brokers, state departments of agriculture and farmers markets; and represent local, regional and national levels.
USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service ensures the committee is administered according to the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
In addition to Wilkins, the new 25-member FVIAC committee includes:
• David Bell, Cherryfield Foods, Inc. Farm/Maine Wild Blueberry Company, Cherryfield and Machias, ME
• Richard Bowman, JJ Family of Farms, Loxahatchee, FL
• Chalmers Carr, Titan Farms, LLC, Ridge Spring, SC
• John Chandler, Chandler Farms L.P., Selma, CA
• KristineEllor, Phillips Mushroom Farms, L.P., Kennett Square, PA
• Kelly Carl Ely, FreshPoint, Oklahoma City, OK
• Bret Erickson, J&D Produce, Edinburg, TX
• Molly Gleason, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Springfield, IL
• Julie Gordon, Cherry Marketing Institute, Dewitt, MI
• Kiley Harper-Larsen, NK Lago Farms, LLC, Pahokee, FL
• Jeffrey Huckaby, Grimmway Enterprises, Inc., Bakersfield, CA
• Michael Janis, San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, San Francisco, CA
• Brian Kirschenmann, Kirschenmann Farms, Inc., Bakersfield, CA
• Tom Lipetzky, Colorado Department of Agriculture, Broomfield, CO
• Paul Palmby, Seneca Foods Corporation, Janesville, WI
• Kelly Powell-McIver, North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, Benson, NC
• Reade Sievert, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, KS
• Steve Smith, Red Gold, Inc., Elwood, IN
• Harry Talbott, Talbott's Mountain Gold, LLLP, Palisade, CO
• Lawrence Tison, Jacksonville Farmers Market, Jacksonville, Florida
• Derrin Wheeler, MBG Marketing, Alma, GA
• Charles Wingard, Walter P. Rawl & Sons, Pelion, SC
• Donn Zea, California Dried Plum Board/Prune Marketing Committee, Roseville, CA
"This is a strong group representing a cross section of the fruit and vegetable industry," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "I look forward to having them as a resource for feedback and firsthand information to help us better understand the impact of USDA programs on farmers, ranchers, packagers, shippers and everyone involved in bringing quality food to American families and exporting American-grown products around the world."
CONTACT: Eric Hequet, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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Editor: Norman Martin
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