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Sheri Mierau, president of the California Tree Fruit Agreement, resigned from her post Tuesday, Dec. 1, and simultaneously it was announced that she was joining Dinuba, CA-based grower-shipper Fruit Patch Sales LLC as its vice president of sales and marketing.

In a letter to the CTFA committee members, Ms. Mierau announced that she had resigned during the Dec. 1 CTFA Executive Committee meeting and said she would continue in her position until the end of the year. She joined CTFA in 2004 as vice president of marketing and became president in December of 2006.

The CTFA has not announced yet what its plans are. The organization has an executive committee as well as governing committee for the three crops it represents: peaches, plums and nectarines.

Michael Reimer of Brandt-DF LLC in Reedley, CA, is the current chairman of the executive committee, and on late Wednesday, Dec. 2, he told The Produce News that he was not quite ready to comment on CTFA efforts to fill the post. He said that he would get together with other members of the executive committee within the next several days and then would be prepared to make a statement.

In announcing her departure to the industry, Ms. Mierau said that there have been many changes over the past eight years that have strengthened the CTFA and provided the industry "with solid value and resources to be used by all."

In the list of changes, she mentioned the elimination of mandatory inspections, restructuring of the committee process, the development of a new state marketing order, the development of a new marketing strategy, settlement of the final lawsuit that questioned the constitutionality of the CTFA and a greater focus on crisis management.

Fruit Patch issued a press release on that same day welcoming Ms. Mierau to its organization. Chief Executive Officer Scott Wallace said in the release, "We are excited about Sheri joining the management team at Fruit Patch. Sheri did an excellent job leading the California Tree Fruit Agreement organization, plus she has extensive experience in the retail grocery industry. We believe the addition of Sheri will allow us to take grower returns to the next level in 2010 and for many years to come."

In the same press release, Wil Garland, Fruit Patch chairman of the board, said, "We believe Sheri will play a key role in helping Fruit Patch deliver 'best- in-class' results for our growers. We've had a great year in 2009, and bringing Sheri Mierau on board further cements our commitment to the tree fruit industry and our growers."

Ms. Mierau grew up in the Reedley area and has spent time working in many different facets of the industry from grower-shipper to retail. Prior to joining the CTFA in early 2004, she served as director of produce for the Ahold retail companies. She has also held positions at Agribuys, Safeway and Sunkist Growers Inc.

For Fruit Patch, this is the second time in the past decade that it has reached into the CTFA to fill a management position in its marketing department. In 2003, former CTFA Director of Merchandising Dave Parker left that position to join Fruit Patch's marketing team. He has since left Fruit Patch and is currently with Scattaglia Growers & Shippers, which is based in Traver, CA.