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eNews from Friday, January 4, 2013

Vegetable Organization Honors 4 Ag Members

Sun -- December 29, 2012 -- During its annual meeting, Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association honored several members of the local agriculture community for their contributions to the industry.

Cornerstone Award

The YFVA Board initiated the Cornerstone Award last year "to acknowledge significant contributions to YFVA from years before YFVA formally began to recognize people's contributions." This year, Bob Meiser was honored with the award.

Meiser and his wife, Joan, were raised in Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University in the late 1940s, he with a degree in animal husbandry and she in education. They moved to Yuma in 1959, where Meiser worked for Soil Serv while Joan taught at Crane.

Less than a year later, he was hired by J. "Bud" Vukasovich. From 1977 until he retired in 1993, he worked for Royal Packing. Even after retiring, he continued consulting with various Yuma companies and sharing his expertise with young growers.

Meiser served on the Yuma Vegetable Shippers Association Board of Directors in late 1980s and early 1990s, serving as president in 1989-1990. From its beginning in 1990, Meiser served on the Arizona Iceberg Lettuce Research Council as its first chairman until his retirement in 1993.

Recognition Award 1

The first Recognition Award goes to a person whose family has been a part of Yuma agriculture since the mid-1800s when his great-great-grandfather, Jose Maria Redondo, brought irrigation to the Gila Valley. In 2007, Bruce Gwynn was instrumental in bringing the Southwest Ag Summit to Yuma and continues to co-chair the event.

He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in animal science.

He has worked for more than 30 years managing sales in agricultural chemical companies and currently is employed by Helena Chemical Company.

Gwynn has also served on the Yuma County Cooperative Extension Advisory Board, the YFVA board, the Yuma County Ag Producers Scholarship Board of Advisors and is past president of the Arizona Crop Protection Association board. In addition, he is president of the Yuma Union High School District Governing Board and serves on the Yuma County Historical Society Board.

Recognition Award 2

The second Recognition Award goes to Roll-area farmer David Sharp, who was honored for his many trips to Phoenix to testify at the state Capitol.

Since 2008 when the Legislature took money from the Arizona Department of Agriculture funds, Sharp has been on a mission to protect the funds from further transfers. As chairman of the Arizona Grain Research and Promotion Council, he worked on a lawsuit with other agricultural associations to get the funding restored that the Legislature had swept. When the Arizona Court of Appeals sided with the Legislature, Sharp again worked with other agricultural associations to secure legislation to prevent future fund transfers.

For two years, he traveled thousands of miles back and forth to the Capitol to explain to legislators and legislative committees why taking money from the ag funds was wrong. The Ag Trust Fund legislation was signed into law earlier this year.

Sharp also worked on Yuma County PM-10 issues and helped develop agricultural best management practices. A past president of the Yuma County Farm Bureau, he currently serves as treasurer. In addition, he has served on the Grain Council Chairman since 2007, chairing it since 2008.

Recognition Award 3

The third Recognition Award this year goes to John Boelts, another farmer who spends a considerable amount of time on the road traveling to the state Capitol in Phoenix on behalf of the Yuma vegetable industry.

For the past couple of years, he has met with legislators and testified before legislative committees in support of the Ag Trust Fund bills. This past year, he served as an agricultural representative on the Office of Pest Management Task Force, which is charged with integrating the Office of Pest Management into the Department of Agriculture.

In addition to traveling to meetings in Phoenix, Boelts is in his second term chairing the Arizona Iceberg Lettuce Research Council and served two terms as president of Yuma County Farm Bureau, traveling often to Phoenix and Washington, D.C., to represent vegetable interests. He also is a YFVA board member.

He started his own farming operation in 2009 and partnered with Kent Inglett on Desert Premium Farms beginning in 2010. You might see his children accompanying him when he is making his rounds.

(c)2012 The Sun (Yuma, Ariz.)
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