Clifford J. Moquist of O.C. Shulz & Sons dies at 90

Clifford J. Moquist, a well-known name in the Red River Valley potato industry, died Dec. 19 at age 90 in Melbourne, FL. Mr. Moquist, of Crystal, ND, was a founding partner of O.C. Shulz & Sons Inc., a farming and potato wash plant operation in Crystal.

He was born in Minneapolis to Swedish immigrant parents, and grew up in Minnesota, New York City, East Meredith, NY, and Farmingdale, NY.

He served during World War II with the 44th Infantry Division and the 726th MP Battalion, first in France and subsequently in the Pacific on Okinawa, preparing for the invasion of Japan.

After the war, Mr. Moquist settled in Crystal, where he married Elsie Shulz in 1946 and began working on his father-in-law's farm. He founded O.C. Schulz & Sons with his two brothers-in-law in 1960.

He was very active locally, and served in the state House of Representatives representing Pembina County from 1967 to 1970. He was instrumental in the creation and construction of the Farmers Elevator, Crystal Oil & Fertilizer and Crystal Chippers among other ventures in the community.

Mr. Moquist was a past-president of the Red River Valley Potato Growers Association and received the organizations Meritorious Service Award in 1984. He represented North Dakota on the National Potato Council and was a member of the American Farm Bureaus national commodity advisory committee. He was an elder of St. Johns Lutheran Church in Crystal.

He is survived by two sons, Dale Moquist and his wife, Carol, of Missouri City, TX; and David Moquist and his wife, JoAnn, of Crystal; a sister, Eva Seaman, of Chambersburg, PA; and eight grandchildren.

Services were held Dec. 23 from the Jensen-Askew Funeral Home in Cavalier, ND, to St. Johns Lutheran Church, with interment in St. Johns Lutheran Cemetery in Crystal. Memorial donations may be made to the St. Johns Lutheran Cemetery Fund, Highway 18, Crystal, ND 58222 or to any charity of the givers choosing.

SALINAS SCENE: EVS Farms' Dennis Donohue announces candidacy for mayor

Dennis Donohue, president of Salinas-based European Vegetable Specialties Farms Inc., has announced his candidacy for mayor of Salinas.

Mr. Donohue is a member of the board of directors of the Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California. He also is the newly installed chairman of the Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce and a former member of the Produce Marketing Association's foodservice board.

Mr. Donohue, who helped build EVS Farms into one of the larger growers of radicchio in the world, in part sees the position of mayor as an opportunity to promote the area's agribusiness throughout the world.

"Part of the job would be to be an ambassador of the Salinas Valley to the nation and the world," Mr. Donohue said. "I like to tell people that this [Salinas Valley] is the world's biggest garden."

Monterey County has gained recognition in recent years as a quality wine-growing region, and Mr. Donohue believes that Salinas will be a destination area for the wine industry. He points to a downtown Salinas hotel project as a sign that Salinas could be a hub of tourism in addition to its well-established standing in agribusiness.

Mr. Donohue said that the response to his candidacy has been "generally very positive" and that he's receiving "good broad-based support."

Mr. Donohue won the 2005 President's Award from the California Library Association for his work on behalf of the Salinas Public Library. He worked long hours in a crisis situation for the library and played a lead role in last year's successful passage of a tax measure that saved city services -- including the entire library system -- in Salinas.


APMA to hold annual conference in February
The Salinas-based Agricultural Personnel Management Association will hold its 26th annual forum Feb. 22-24 at the Cliffs Resort in Shell Beach, CA. Workshop topics include guest worker legislation, the new heat illness prevention standard, harassment prevention training and a workers' comp update.

To get a registration form for the event, call APMA Executive Director Julia Belliard at 831/422-8023 or e-mail her at apma@agpersonnel.org. Forum registration fees are $315 for APMA members and $385 for nonmembers. There are also other rates for company discounts, one-day attendance rates and bonus programs. Participants must make their own room reservations directly with the Cliffs Resort.


CSC hires PR specialist
The Watsonville, CA-based California Strawberry Commission has hired Carolyn O'Donnell to its communications team as public relations specialist. She will provide support for media relations, industry communications and public outreach.

Ms. O'Donnell has a bachelor's degree from Purdue University and a master's degree from the University of Michigan. She brings a diverse range of experience in marketing, communications and development. Prior to joining the commission, she worked with agencies such as the United Way of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz Museum Association, the Girl Scouts of Monterey Bay and the Santa Cruz Area Transportation Management Association.

A long-time resident of Santa Cruz County, Ms. O'Donnell serves on the board of directors of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, Health Projects Center, the Otter Project and the Pajaro Valley Performing Arts Association. She serves as president of the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus.


Mills 'Wholeaves' receives another honor
Salinas-based Mills Family Farms "Wholeaves" line -- green leaf, red leaf, green cascade mix and Romaine lettuce -- has been named the official lettuce of the 20th anniversary of the Masters of Food & Wine to be held Febr. 16-19 in Carmel, CA.

Celebrated chefs and more than 50 top producing wineries from around the world will gather at the Highlands Inn, Park Hyatt Carmel for this internationally recognized event.

(Contact Western Editor Brian Gaylord at briangaylord@sbcglobal.net or 831/757-4000.)

Herb Thyme continues growth with acquisition of McCormick

In a move that solidifies Los Angeles-based Herb Thyme Farms Inc.'s position as a leading U.S. grower, shipper and marketer of fresh culinary herbs and edible flowers, the company has acquired the business operations of McCormick Fresh Herbs LLC.

This acquisition will integrate the fresh herb farms, facilities, employees and management team of McCormick into Herb Thyme. It combines two national leaders in the fresh herb business and continues Herb Thyme's pattern of growth through acquisitions. In early 2004, Herb Thyme acquired New Hampshire-based New England Herb Co. and later that year acquired Watsonville, CA-based Quail Mountain Herbs.

The acquisition makes Herb Thyme "by far the largest grower-shipper of fresh herbs," for retail and foodservice, said Mike Murphy, the company's director of national retail sales.

"The acquisition of McCormick adds a lot of foodservice business," Mr. Murphy said.

Raju Boligala, president and chief executive officer of Herb Thyme, said that combined with Herb Thyme's USDA- and kosher-certified organic acreage and production facilities, the acquisition will give Herb Thyme more diversity and increased production to handle the growing demand for fresh culinary herbs and flowers.

"It enables us to further expand our organic production to take care of increasing retailer and consumer interest in organic herbs," Mr. Boligala said. "It also allows us more domestic growing capacity to supply safer products to our customers grown on our own farms in six different microclimatic areas."

Herb Thyme grows all its herbs in Central California and Watsonville on more than 500 acres of farmland. In California, Herb Thyme has a 50,000-square-foot packing facility in Compton, as well as facilities in Oceanside, Palm Desert and two facilities in Watsonville. The company also has a production and packing facility in Claremont, NH.

McCormick's primary base of operations is in Southern California, including a packing facility in Commerce, CA. McCormick "has much newer greenhouses [than Herb Thyme]," Mr. Murphy said.

McCormick's totally controlled growing technologies will be integrated into Herb Thyme. Combining both companies' greenhouses will give Herb Thyme well over 3 million square feet of greenhouse space.

PMA's retail conference to focus on winning new consumers

The Produce Marketing Association's Retail Produce Solutions Conference will be held March 9-11 in Houston. The three-day conference is designed to give executives representing every segment of the supply chain the opportunity to focus on the unique challenges and solutions of the fresh produce industry. A particular focus will be marketing to the "new consumer" segments, namely Hispanics, Asians, GenXers and children.

"This conference gives managers and senior executives a chance to collaborate and benefit from what the experts know about the desires and needs of the 'new consumers,' " according to Bryan Silbermann, PMA president.

Sessions will focus on several important aspects of today's consumers, including two sessions on the produce consumption and buying habits of today's highest growth markets, Joe Pine's discoveries of how to attract and keep good customers, and how Harold Lloyd's Getting A.R.M.E.D. for Battle strategy works in the fresh produce industry. Through a sponsorship from Try-Foods International, 10 retailers will receive $1,000 toward their expenses to attend the 2006 conference. These expenses include the registration fee, travel and hotel accommodations.

For additional information about the conference and registration options, including discounted rates for retailers, multiple registrants, and those registering prior to Jan. 27, visit www.pma.com/rpsc.

New York nominates new ag commissioner

New York Gov. George E. Pataki has nominated Patrick Brennan to serve as commissioner of agriculture and markets. He succeeds Nathan Rudgers, who stepped down from the post late last year.

As the state's agriculture commissioner, Mr. Brennan will oversee the responsibilities of the Department of Agriculture & Markets, an agency that has both regulatory and promotional oversight of the food and agricultural industry.

Previously, Mr. Brennan served as the state director for rural development with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, overseeing a $200 million budget to create economic development opportunity and improve the quality of life in rural New York.