George Hamner says he intends to represent Florida citrus and “to also advocate for any Florida agricultural produce that I can” as a recent appointee to a federal marketing advisory committee. Hamner, of Indian River Exchange Packers, Inc., is one of 24 members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee for 2020-22.
“The committee’s mission is to create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. produce while supporting economic development in ag communities around the country,” Hamner says. “Often, this is commodity-specific support, like specialty crops, which is what citrus falls under.”
Hamner believes he is the only citrus grower/shipper on the committee. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service reports that the committee, originally chartered in 2001, advises the U.S. secretary of agriculture on issues affecting the fruit and vegetable industry. Committee members represent organic and non-organic growers, shippers, wholesalers, retailers, industry trade associations, importers, processors, food-service suppliers, food brokers, state departments of agriculture and farmers markets on local, regional and national levels. See the full list of committee members.
“This (his appointment) has been in the works for several months,” Hamner says. “I believe it first was mentioned in a conversation with Dan Richey.” Richey is a fellow Indian River grower/shipper involved heavily in citrus trade issues. “I called and talked to (Florida Citrus Mutual CEO) Mike Sparks about it and we both felt, if an appointment was possible, it would certainly be good for Florida citrus,” Hamner says. He credits Mutual Director of Communications Andrew Meadows “for all the legwork and follow through” involved in getting Hamner appointed.
“At this point, I am not sure how often the committee will meet, nor whether in person or virtually, although I suspect it will mainly be online or conference calls until there is more certainty about the control of COVID-19,” Hamner says.
Florida Citrus Packers honored Hamner with its John T. Lesley Award for Excellence in 2017; read about that here.
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