Strawberry grower Mark Murai will be leading the California Strawberry Commission as its interim president effective immediately.

Murai, a third-generation Orange County farmer, has served on the commission’s board of directors for 17 years and led the organization as its chairman of the board from 2002-2004.

Richard Amirsehhi, the commission’s chairman of the board, says Murai’s knowledge of the industry will make him an excellent interim leader. “Mark’s experience and leadership in the industry made him a natural choice for this important role,” said Amirsehhi. “With his understanding of the commission’s strategic goals, he will be able to support the industry’s vision and provide the board with a chance to focus on finding a permanent leader.”

Murai began growing strawberries with his family’s farms in 1985. Although he began farming sooner than expected (while still studying Agricultural Business Management at Cal Poly, Pomona) he had always known he would spend his days in the strawberry fields, just as his father and grandparents had.

On Murai’s wall hangs a picture of his father holding an infant atop a brand new John Deere tractor. “I stare at this picture of my father and me everyday and it always reminds me of the importance of my work and the incredible sacrifices my family made to keep our farm in operation.”

Now Murai will be helping the strawberry industry meet its goals. With a background in growing, shipping and processing, he can easily relate to the needs of the state’s strawberry businesses. As chairman, he regularly communicated with state, federal and international governments, a skill he will use again as the commission looks toward a concentration on public policy.

“I’m very excited to begin. Because I grew up in the strawberry industry, I have a passion for it, and my involvement with the commission has invigorated my enthusiasm,” said Murai. “I look forward to carrying the industry’s vision forward.”

The California Strawberry Commission supports and represents the California strawberry industry with programs in research, education, marketing and issues management. The commission represents an industry of over 600 growers, shippers and processors.