UPDATED: Colorado produce group launches

02/25/2014 11:56:00 AM
Andy Nelson

A new association of Colorado fruit and vegetable grower-shippers hopes to increase produce’s influence in the halls of power in Denver.

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association aims to give producers big and small a unified voice on labor, food safety and other industry issues, said Kerry Mattics, a partner in Olathe, Colo.-based Mattics Orchards.

Mattics was one of several people involved in the association who spoke Feb. 27 in Denver on the second day of the Governors Forum on Colorado Agriculture, where the group launched.

Driving forces behind the association include Robert Sakata of Brighton, Colo.-based Sakata Farms and Adrian Card, a Boulder County extension agent for Colorado State University, Mattics said.

Sakata is the association’s president and Amy Kunugi, general manager of Center, Colo.-based Southern Colorado Farms, is vice president.

With the number of fruit and vegetable growers shrinking in Colorado, Mattics said it’s important for the industry to come together.

“If you don’t have numbers, I don’t know if you have a voice,” he said. “(The association) is trying to pull together in a way that the footprint will be bigger.”

The association’s efforts will focus primarily on lobbying at the state level, Mattics said. The group hopes to attract grower-shippers of all sizes from throughout the state.

The association plans to hire an executive director, Mattics said.

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