I had the chance to chat on June 12 with Jim Cranney, president of the California Citrus Quality Council, Auburn.
1:41 p.m. Tom Karst: Jim thanks for taking part in another Fresh Talk chat. As is my custom, I like to ask people how they got their start in the industry. How did you make your first connection to the produce industry?
1:44 p.m. Jim Cranney: I received my under graduate degree in Food Marketing from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. We visited the Philadelphia produce terminal as part of a class project and I became hooked on the scale and scope of the produce industry. Where does it all come from and how is it produced? How did it end up here?
1:45 p.m. Tom: Interesting. After school, was U.S. Apple your first job? Looking back at your time in the apple industry and with the association, what do you value and appreciate?
1:50 p.m. Jim: Actually, I had a more circuitous route to US Apple. I reported shipping point marketing information for fruits and vegetables in Southeast Michigan and apples in the mid-Atlantic region for USDA's Market News Service and bought fruits and vegetables for Heinz USA before joining US Apple.
1:51 p.m. I value the tradition and values of the apple industry. The people are genuine.
1:53 p.m. Tom: As you have shifted your professional focus to the citrus industry in California, what issues are you working on right now? What would you say are the top two to three issues that you are dealing with?
2:00 p.m. Jim: Many of the issues are similar, but in a different context. I'm still an advocate for growers. The biggest issue for the California citrus industry is the threat of hounglongbing (citrus greening). CCQC is taking the lead in developing a partnership with the Mexican citrus industry to identify ways we can work together to stop the spread of HLB. We strive to make sure the industry is meeting domestic and international regulatory standards and we are working with international standards setting bodies to generate more maximum residue limits (MRLs) to facilitate exports of California citrus.
2:02 p.m. Tom: You bring up the council. How is it funded and who are your members?
2:04 p.m. Jim: We are funded though the California Citrus Research Board which assesses growers for research and the type of services we provide.
2:07 p.m. Tom: Very good. I've got a tough question for you, relating back to the disease issues you mentioned earlier. I know that the Florida citrus industry is seeking new protocol about shipping fruit to California and other citrus states. Will you get involved in looking at that proposal? Do you have any opinion so far about the science relating to a new protocol allowing citrus from canker infested areas to be sold in California?
2:15 p.m. Jim: We are aware that USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working on a regulation related to the canker question. We will have to wait to see what is proposed and respond to the science issues as they are raised. We collaborate with Florida of a wide range of issues and we want their industry to be successful as much as we want our own industry to thrive. We are all citrus growers and we have many of the same problems.
2:16 p.m. Tom: Jim, you have been generous with your time. One more question. Since you have moved to California, have you had a chance to explore the state a little bit with your family? What's your favorite destination in California so far?
2:20 p.m. Jim: Actually the trout fishing seems to be pretty good about two miles from my residence in Auburn, California! We are looking forward to exploring the state with the kids this summer. Wish us luck!
2:21 p.m. Tom: That should be fun. Jim thanks again.
Jim: It was my pleasure.