The California Grape & Tree Fruit League hosted its 72nd Annual Meeting at The Fairmont San Francisco in San Francisco, Calif., March 30-April 1.

During the 3-day meeting a new chairman of the board took the helm after Jerry DiBuduo (Ballantine Produce Co. Inc.) served as chairman during the 2007-2008 fiscal year. John D. Zaninovich (Merritt Farms) is the new chairman of the board and has served on the League's board of directors for nearly 10 years and will serve as chairman for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. More than 220 guests attended the event.

Other business included the appointment of the League's executive committee, which is the governing body that makes formal recommendations to the board of directors. The following individuals were elected to serve for a 1-year term on the executive committee: Chairman - Marko Scott Zaninovich (Marko Zaninovich Inc.); Committee members - Jerry DiBuduo (Ballantine Produce Co. Inc.); Ken Enns (Enns Packing Co. Inc.); Ron Frauenheim (Frauenheim Farms); Steve Hash (Steve Hash Farms); David Marguleas (Sun World International, LLC); Louis Pandol (Pandol Bros. Inc.); Dean Thonensen (Sunwest Fruit Company Inc.); John D. Zaninovich (Merritt Farms); and Ryan Zaninovich (V.B. Zaninovich & Sons Inc.).

On Monday, March 31, 2008, the League hosted two industry workshop sessions, the first of which featured George Soares and Louie Brown, the league's lobbyists with the firm of Kahn, Soares and Conway, LLP. Brown and Soares candidly discussed the 2008 big ticket issues of the state which included: budget, water, air quality, labor, health care, term limits and redistricting. Soares and Brown detailed how these issues are shaping up to affect League members. This dynamic duo concluded by handicapping the upcoming state elections, as well as the ballot propositions.

The second session featured Bill Jones, former California secretary of state, who outlined the reasons Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) should be and will be the next president of the United States. As the chair of the McCain 2008 California campaign, Jones, a longtime friend of the League in his many years of public service, has the honor and responsibility, as well as the challenge, of putting this state into the senator's win column. This session detailed the strategy and reasons why the White House is clearly in reach for the senator from Arizona.

During the Annual Membership Meeting Luncheon on Monday, March 31, there were three industry veterans who were honored for their exemplary service to the table grape and tree fruit industries.

Cliff Sadoian (Fruit Dynamics Inc.) received the prestigious Mentor's Award. The Mentor's Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional dedication to the table grape and tree fruit industries through their leadership. Sadoian was chairman of the California Grape & Tree Fruit League during the 1995-1996 fiscal year.

Thirty years prior to Sadoian serving as chairman, his father George Sadoian was the League chairman. Currently, Sadoian participates on several committees — the political action committee (FruitPAC) board and is a co-chair of the League's Annual Golf Tournament. Sadoian is a strong supporter of the League and understands the role it fills for the table grape and stone fruit industries.

“I belong and have belonged to several organizations over the years. The way the League is set up it is one of the best organizations I have seen in my life,” Sadoian said. Sadoian is married to Debbie and they have a daughter — Brittany.

Sarkis Sarabian (Sarabian Farms) became the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sarabian joined the California Grape & Tree Fruit League as a grower member in June 1974. During the 1989-1990 fiscal year, Sarabian served as the League's chairman of the board.

Sarabian is known to freely share his expertise in the agricultural industry in offering wise counsel regarding industry matters. His League involvement includes numerous committees such as: Standardization and Packaging Committee, Environmental Resources Committee, and Marketing Research Committee. Sarabian is married to Virginia, and this year the couple celebrates 50 years of marriage. Sarabian has two sons: David and Michael who work in the family business which is based in Sanger.

The third award that was presented on March 31 was the Supplier of the Year which is typically awarded on an annual basis. Bruce Carter (Agri-Cel Inc.) was selected as the Supplier of the Year by his colleagues because of his dedication to the industry, demonstrated through his work with the table grape and tree fruit operations in California. Carter is the general manager for Agri-Cel, Delano, and joined the company in 2001. Prior to this position he worked as the ag sales representative for PPS Packaging Inc.

The Fresno-based California Grape & Tree Fruit League is a nonprofit agricultural trade association that serves as a public policy representative at both the state and federal levels for growers and shippers of California's table grape and fresh deciduous tree fruit industries.