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WASHINGTON -- United Fresh Produce Association announced Feb. 12 that Rob Neenan, currently vice president of government affairs at the California League of Food Processors in Sacramento, CA, will join United as vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability.

"Rob will be an excellent leader to help develop and grow our foundation's new Center for Global Produce Sustainability, which was established last year through a founding grant from Bayer CropScience," United President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Stenzel said in a Feb. 12 press release. "Rob shares our vision of sustainability as a tool to help growers and the entire produce supply chain reduce costs and increase efficiencies."

Sustainability is most often defined as the intersection of environmental responsibility, social acceptability and economic viability. As companies work to reduce energy use, ensure wise use of natural resources such as water, increase recycling and reuse of materials, and ensure a positive and equitable workplace and community, they're also working to make their companies more economically sustainable," according to Mr. Stenzel.

Mr. Neenan has been in his current position since 2005, where he is responsible for analyzing environmental, energy, food safety and other issues affecting the fruit and vegetable processing industry in California. He also organized the league's member committee on sustainability, developing resources and strategies for addressing climate change and other challenges.

He previously served as director of trade services at the California Grape & Tree Fruit League in Fresno, CA, from 1997 to 2005.

At the league he was responsible for U.S. Department of Agriculture and California Department of Food & Agriculture fresh fruit inspection standards, state and federal marketing regulation, and Food & Drug Administration labeling requirements.

He also managed the industry program to export stone fruit to Mexico in compliance with Mexican import phytosanitary regulations, coordinated trade negotiations with the U.S. and Mexican governments, and provided compliance information to farmers and pest control advisors.

Prior to his California career, Mr. Neenan served as an economist in the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service in Washington from 1987 to 1997.

At the USDA he monitored proposed changes in transportation regulations and assessed the potential impact on agriculture; provided technical assistance and market information to agricultural shippers; and participated in USDA trade missions to Guatemala, Costa Rica, China and Russia.

Mr. Neenan received his bachelor of arts degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University in 1981 and his master's degree in agricultural business from California State University in Fresno in 1986.

Mr. Neenan will join United Fresh March 1 and will be based at United's offices in Washington. He will help lead the association's first Global Conference on Produce Sustainability April 23, immediately following its annual convention April 20-22 in Las Vegas, NV.