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Apple harvest off to an early start Growers picking apples when they normally pick peaches

Contact: Denise Donohue
(800) 456-2753

(DeWitt, Mich.) – Apple grower Tony R. Blattner of Lowell has been appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm to serve as the newest board member of the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC), which works on behalf of the state’s 950 family-operated orchards in the areas of consumer education, market development and research.

Blattner succeeds Julia Rothwell, whose term has expired.  He represents growers in Ionia, Mecosta, Montcalm and Newaygo counties, some of the heaviest apple-producing acreage in Michigan.

“I would like to contribute back to the apple industry since it is such a large part of my life.  I have always felt that it is important to stay involved no matter what the issue or subject matter may be,” said Blattner.  “To me, MAC is a great vehicle to develop and understand the dynamics of the entire supply chain within our industry.”

A partner with his father and uncle in the family business Twin Bee Orchard, L.L.C., Blattner has been growing apples for four decades.  He has also worked 18 years for Gerber Products Company of Fremont in various purchasing positions, including buying fruits and vegetables throughout Michigan to overseeing sourcing programs and strategies for their U.S. manufacturing facilities.  Currently, Blattner works for BelleHarvest Fruit of Belding as director of field operations.

“During my tenure (on the MAC Board), I would like to develop a strong rapport with growers and fresh apple shippers within my district.  I want to best serve the growers and feel this will be achieved by actively listening to their concerns and suggestions and in return bring these issues back to the board for review and resolution,” he said.

Blattner will serve on the MAC Board through March 2013.  While there are several important issues facing apple growers today, Blattner said ag labor reform and food safety are among the most critical.

“Growers need an effective, viable guest worker program to ensure the harvest of their apple crops,” he said.  “I also believe it’s critical that our industry as a whole continues to embrace efforts to ensure a safe product for the consumer.”

In addition to Blattner, current MAC Board Chairman Scott Lewis of New Era was reappointed to the board for a term also expiring April 1, 2013.  Lewis has been involved on both the MAC and Michigan Apple Association (MAA) boards in various capacities for the last decade.  He has been growing apples in Michigan for 24 years.

Seven growers from various regions of the state serve on the MAC Board.

MAC is a grower-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to promotion, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world.