Four tree fruit industry groups combine

07/10/2014 12:28:00 PM
Tom Karst

Four Washington tree fruit industry organizations will combine to form the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.

Jon DeVaney has been named president of the new group, which brings together the functions of the Washington State Horticultural Association, the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association, the Washington Growers Clearing House Association, and the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association. DeVaney is currently executive director of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association.

Before starting with the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association in 2009, DeVaney previously had positions with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency, the staff of Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and the Northwest Horticultural Council.

“It is very exciting and a huge honor,” DeVaney said July 10.

DeVaney said the merger, under serious consideration for nearly two years, was driven by the desire to create less duplication of effort and better utilize industry resources. “We want to make sure none of the members of any current associations have interruptions to the services they are used to and then we can start improving those services.” The groups, operating as far back as 100 years or more, give the industry data about crop movement and prices, provide industry education and work with state officials on behalf of growers.

With the new organization set to begin operating Sept. 1, DeVaney said July 10 that the location of the group’s office will be left up to the elected board. That 13-member board for the group will be chosen sometime this fall, so DeVaney said the group should determine its office sometime in the next year. Until then, office space for the groups will be retained and a eight-member transition board has been appointed, with two representatives from each group on the transition board.

The goal is for the new board to be seated by the group’s trade show in Pasco, Wash., Dec. 1-3.

The retirements of Bruce Grim, of the Washington State Horticultural Association; Charlie Pomianek, of the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association; and Kirk Mayer, of the Washington Growers Clearing House Association, are planned after the merger and made the timing of creating a combined group make sense.

Staffing for the new organization has been estimated at about 10 full-time employees, though that number is subject to change, DeVaney said. That is about two full-time equivalent employees less than the groups employ now, he said.

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