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The California Tree Fruit Agreement in Reedley, CA, has selected Gary Van Sickle as its next president following the departure of Sherrie Mierau in December. The appointment was announced in a Feb. 17 press release.

Mr. Van Sickle has been employed by CTFA in various capacities for 34 years, serving as field director, research director and regulatory compliance director, and most recently as assistant manager. His appointment to the top spot was made by the Peach Commodity Committee "on behalf of the joint committees of growers and shippers of California peaches, plums and nectarines," according to the press release.

Michael Reimer, vice president of sales for Brandt Farms Inc. and chairman of the Peach Commodity Committee, told The Produce News Feb. 17, "Gary is the right person to carry out our core mission, and our core mission is to do everything we can to let our growers and our members of CTFA succeed."

With regard to what CTFA is "tasked to do for this coming year" by the peach, nectarine and plum committees and the growers they represent, Mr. Reimer said that the current areas of focus for the organization are "Gary's strong points. He fits … what the growers are asking for."

The press release quoted Mr. Reimer as saying, "The California tree fruit industry is excited to have Gary Van Sickle as the president of CTFA. His 34 years at CTFA serving our growers makes him uniquely qualified to carry out this mission. As we have transitioned to an organization focused on resources, research and crisis management, Gary's experience in grower and government relations will be essential."

Mr. Van Sickle is "a sure fit to guide the tree fruit industry into the future," the press release stated. "He is viewed as an expert [on] California peaches, plums and nectarines and has been called a 'walking encyclopedia' by many."

Mr. Van Sickle has been "instrumental in the adoption of minimum-size regulations for minor varieties, modernizing the packout processes, formulating color standards to determine maturity and the adoption of well- matured standards for the industry," the release stated.

CTFA is no longer directly involved in domestic advertising and promotion, Mr. Van Sickle noted. "But we have evolved into a situation where we are becoming a resource to marketers," he told The Produce News. "Our role now will be to supply those marketers with data, information, expertise, and let them use it and craft it into their marketing programs" and use the information in the way that works best for them.

The group will continue to be involved in international market development, however, because of Market Access Program funding that is available for those programs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.