When Jim Bair starts his new job as president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Apple Association in January, his first priority will be to meet as many members as possible.

Bair, currently vice president of the North American Millers Association in Washington, D.C., said he believes it is critical to use a coalition approach when trying to get things done in the nation’s capital. He said his 25 years at the millers association and his ongoing service as vice chairman of the Crop Protection Coalition have repeatedly shown him the effectiveness of that approach.

Bair succeeds Nancy Foster, who left the association in late August after 11 years when her contract was not renewed. Chris Britton, association chairman, said at the time that the separation was amicable. Diane Kurrle, vice president of public affairs, has been serving as the interim leader for the association since September.

Britton said in a news release that Bair’s experience in agriculture and proven leadership put him over the top during the search for a new CEO and president.

“We feel like we found a person who can lead the association for many years to come,” Britton said in the release.

Bair said he has been impressed by the leadership in the apple industry, which he has worked with on topics such as pesticide use. Pesticide is just one of the “overlap areas” that Bair said will serve him well as he enters the apple industry.

Consumer perception is another common denominator that Bair said transcends all agriculture sectors.

“We are at a point in history where customers and consumers are demanding more from food producers and U.S. Apple has done a great job of preparing the industry to meet those demands as we move forward,” Bair said Dec. 12.

Prior to his 25-year stint at the millers association Bair was a White House appointee with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection Service and was marketing director for the Kansas Wheat Commission.

The U.S. Apple Association represents all segments of the apple industry, including 40 state and regional apple associations representing 7,500 apple growers.