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Michigan Apple advocate named to top leadership seat on national industry board

Contact: Denise Donohue
(800) 456-2753

(DeWitt, Mich.) – Longtime Michigan Apple advocate Julia Baehre Rothwell is the new chairwoman of the USApple Association Board of Directors, a national trade association representing all segments of the apple industry.

The Grand Rapids resident was installed to the top leadership position during the annual USApple Association’s Crop Outlook & Marketing Conference held August 20 in Chicago.

Active on USApple Association since 2002, Rothwell has served in various capacities including vice chairwoman and secretary.

Raised on her family’s Fruit Ridge farm – Baehre Orchards – Rothwell has been involved in the fruit industry her entire life.  Her husband, Michael Rothwell, is president, general manager and a shareholder of Belding Fruit Storage, Inc., and BelleHarvest Sales, Inc., both of Belding.

Rothwell has always had a passion for the industry and is particularly fond of the strong sense of community associated with the apple harvest and the industry in general.  Her family has grown apples in western Michigan for more than 100 years.

“I am honored to have been elected chair of this important national board,” said Rothwell.  “I pledge to continue advocating on behalf of the apple industry and the family growers in Michigan and elsewhere who work so hard generation after generation to produce quality apples.”

Rothwell has been particularly active in legislative roles, testifying on behalf of the 2008 Farm Bill, and advocating for agricultural labor reform.

Denise Donohue, MAC executive director, said the industry is fortunate to have Rothwell working on its behalf.  Rothwell has been a director and officer of the Michigan Apple Committee Board since 2001, and was succeeded by Tony Blattner earlier this year after her term expired.

“She works very hard with the growers’ best interest at heart and has made a tremendous impact on the Michigan Apple industry,” said Donohue.  “She makes multiple trips annually to Capitol Hill, and works to keep elected officials abreast of issues that are most important to Michigan growers.  She has played an integral role in involving many Michigan growers and industry-related people in the national organization.”

Rothwell is the second woman to become chair of the USApple Association.  The first – also from Michigan – was JoAnne Thome, of Thome Orchards in Comstock Park.    Each year 25 individuals are elected to the USApple Board of Directors, representing the nation’s apple-producing regions.  Other Michigan directors are Joe Klein of Sparta and Fred Leitz of Sodus.

Also receiving distinction at the USApple Outlook Conference was Don Armock, a partner in Riveridge Produce Marketing, Inc. of Sparta.  Armock was named 2010 Apple Man of the Year by The Packer, a newspaper for the produce industry.

Cited as an innovator and champion of the Michigan Apple industry, Armock was distinguished for his efforts to promote exports, new packinghouse technologies and food safety solutions.

“(Armock) assumes risks on the path to improvement that most people would not take, yet he always seems to land on his feet,” said Tom Karst, The Packer’s national editor, upon presenting the award.

Donohue said Armock is a strong leader and advocate within the Michigan Apple industry.

“(Armock) travels the world to learn about apple growing in other regions,” said Donohue.  “He is committed to driving competition and works hard to keep his business on the cutting edge.”

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