Longtime Produce Industry Leader and Advocate to Retire
According to a group letter sent to Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) members, FFVA President Mike Stuart has informed the association’s Board of Directors of his plans to retire. Stuart has led the state industry association since 1992.
A portion of the letter authored by FFVA Chairman Paul Orsenigo of Grower’s Management Inc. in LaBelle reads as follows: “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. He has been the public face of Florida’s fruit and vegetable industry and one of its most significant leaders for more than 25 years.”
Stuart has built his entire career in the fruit and vegetable industry and holds multiple leadership positions outside of Florida, too. His Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association bio tells the story from his beginning as a produce merchandiser for a large Southern California supermarket chain, to serving for more than two decades as an association executive representing growers and shippers in Florida, California, and Arizona.
He is co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. In addition, he’s an officer and board member of the Center for Produce Safety, as well as a board member of the Alliance for Food and Farming.
Stuart’s industry experience runs deep and wide, having past and present involvement in multiple advisory groups including the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables, USDA’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee, Redlands Christian Migrant Association, United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Produce Marketing Association, and Produce for Better Health Foundation — to name a few.
A search committee has been appointed from among FFVA’s Board of Directors, and a national firm is carrying out a search for Stuart’s successor, Orsenigo reported. The committee’s goal is to have a recommendation for consideration at FFVA’s annual convention in September.