(UPDATED, 4:38 p.m.) Longtime Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association president Mike Stuart is ready to retire.
Stuart, who has led FFVA since 1992, recently notified the association’s board of directors of his intent to retire, FFVA chairman Paul Orsenigo said in a news release.
No firm date was given when he will leave the group, but Stuart is expected to remain at FFVA for several more months to assist with the transition to a new leader. A national search is underway to find a successor for Stuart, according to the release. A search committee appointed from among FFVA board of directors and a national firm is helping with the search, with a goal to have a recommendation for board consideration at FFVA’s annual convention in September, Orsenigo said in the release.
“Mike’s leadership on major agricultural issues, his unique ability to develop strong coalitions and bring consensus on difficult matters, and his voice of reason in Tallahassee and in Washington are unparalleled,” Orsenigo said in the release. “He has been the public face of Florida’s fruit and vegetable industry agriculture and one of its most significant leaders for more than 25 years.”
With a long stint at Irvine, Calif. based Western Growers from 1979 to 1992, Stuart has spent his entire career in the fruit and vegetable industry.
Stuart is currently co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, an officer and board member of the Center for Produce Safety, and a board member of the Alliance for Food and Farming, according to the release.
Stuart also serves on the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, a group that advises the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on international trade matters. He also was a member and chairman of the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables.
The release said Stuart served two terms on USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. In addition, he has served as chairman of the board of the Redlands Christian Migrant Association and a member of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association’s board of directors, according to the release. Stuart also has been on the Produce Marketing Association’s board of directors and served as a board member and chairman of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Matt McInerney, senior executive vice president for Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers, attended high school with Stuart in Pasadena, Calif., and later worked with him for 13 years when Stuart was at Western Growers.
McInerney called Stuart one of the most respected leaders in the entire produce supply chain.
“He leaves a great legacy and will certainly be sorely missed throughout the entire industry,” McInerney said.