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WASHINGTON -- The United Fresh Produce Association announced at the end of March that Burleson Smith, former director of pest management policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will join the association as vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability.

"Burleson will be a strong leader in helping the fruit and vegetable industry address the important issues surrounding sustainability and the environment," Tom Stenzel, United’s president and chief executive officer, said in a March 28 press release. "Fruit and vegetable growers are the original sustainability experts, with their commitment to maintaining the health of their land while producing wonderfully nutritious fruits and vegetables for the local, national and global community. Burleson will play an integral role in helping our growers and the entire fresh produce supply chain in communicating their story, and enhancing sustainability measures in all we do."

Mr. Smith will lead the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Global Produce Sustainability, which was established in 2009 through a founding grant from Bayer CropScience. Working with the center's advisory board, Mr. Smith will develop programs linking the produce supply chain from farm to consumer to advance environmental responsibility, social acceptability and economic viability of the fresh produce industry.

"As companies work to reduce energy use, ensure wise use of natural resources such as water, increase recycling and reuse of materials, ensure a positive and equitable workplace and community, and deliver high-quality nutritious foods to the public, they're also working to make their companies more economically sustainable," Mr. Stenzel said in the release.

During his 2002-09 tenure at USDA as an appointee in the George W. Bush administration, Mr. Smith maintained a large portfolio of responsibilities, including advising the deputy secretary on pesticide and environmental policy, serving as agricultural liaison with the Environmental Protection Agency and providing agricultural expertise to other government agencies on environmental issues. Most recently, he served as a principal with the Policy Navigation Group, providing consulting services on natural resource and environmental issues.

From 2001 to 2002, Mr. Smith served as sales manager for the eastern United States for Kemira Agro, a global manufacturer of specialty fertilizer products. From 1992 to 2001, he held several positions in product development and crop strategy with American Cyanamid Co. and subsequently BASF after its purchase of the company. Previously, he was a Congressional Science Fellow with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture, and worked with the National Fertilizer Solutions Association from 1984 to 1991.

Mr. Smith received his master’s degree in soil science and his bachelor's degree in plant and soil science (with honors) from Texas A&M University.

Mr. Smith will join United Fresh April 1 and will be based at the association's offices in Washington.