YAKIMA, Wash. — Jon DeVaney, executive director of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association, has been appointed president of the new Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
The new association replaces the Growers-Shippers and three other industry trade associations on Sept. 1.
DeVaney, 43, was one of several candidates. He was chosen during a meeting of the new organization’s transitional board on July 9, said West Mathison, a board member and president of Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee.
“We were impressed with the depth and richness of his experience,” Mathison said. “He has a deep breadth of knowledge of the associations and how they work with government.”
Lobbying government with one voice instead of several was the main reason Mathison cited in calling for merger of the four associations in December 2011 at the completion of his year as president of the Washington State Horticultural Association.
The Growers-Shippers, the Horticultural Association, Washington Growers Clearing House and Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association are the four associations merging.
There is duplication among several of them in tracking tree fruit storage, shipments, prices and handling regulatory and legislative affairs. The heads of three associations will be retiring.
Politics is about relationships and DeVaney has a lot of relationships outside agriculture, Mathison said.
DeVaney has been executive director of the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association since 2009. He has overseen collection and reporting of data on fruit holdings and shipments and done state lobbying. Previously, he was Washington state director of USDA’s Rural Development, an aide to U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings and director of legislative and regulatory affairs at the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Washington and a master’s degree in history from Georgetown University.
The three most important functions of the new association, Mathison said, will be producing accurate industry storage and price reports to members on time, effective lobbying at the state level and staying relevant and engaged with the state’s tree fruit growers.
The Northwest Horticultural Council and U.S. Apple Association will continue industry lobbying at the federal level.
The new tree fruit association is being formed as a replacement within the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association’s nonprofit status for speed of transition and to maintain the traffic association’s health insurance program used by industry members, Mathison said. It would take 18 months to create an entirely new nonprofit organization, he said.
The new tree fruit association will be governed by a 13-member board made up of five independent growers, five packers, two at-large growers and one marketer. People will be able to apply to run for board positions in fall elections with results announced at the association’s annual meeting in Kennewick, Dec. 1-3.
Transitional board members are: Mathison, Mark Stennes, Sam Godwin, David Smelter, Steve Zediker, Jeff Cleveringa, Jon Alegria, and Sean Gilbert.