Dawn Drake, manager of the Michigan Processing Apple Growers, has won the Michigan Pomesters’ Fruit Person of the Year Award.
In presenting the award, Fruit Ridge area fruit grower Mark Umlor said Drake had her finger on the pulse of the industry and, because of her work, has given fruit growers in Michigan an impact on the world apple market.
People in the apple industry worldwide look to the Michigan Processing Apple Growers, who provide price leadership as they bargain with apple processors for terms and conditions of sale. “Her main job is bargaining for price,” Umlor said.
The Michigan Processing Apple Growers is a division of the Michigan Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Association (MACMA), which is a subsidiary of Michigan Farm Bureau.
It is a voluntary membership association, made up of about 750 apple grower members who sell about 60 percent of the processing apples in Michigan. “The primary goal of the association is to obtain true market value for apples produced by our members,” according to its Web site.
There are a dozen buyers of processing apples who operate packing plants in Michigan.
When the Michigan Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Act (P.A. 344) was enacted in 1973, the division applied for, and received, accreditation starting with the 1975 crop. Under the law, processors are required to negotiate in good faith with the division and to deduct marketing service fees from growers.
Drake was employed in Lansing in other Farm Bureau positions before coming to MACMA about 20 years ago. She became manager of the processing apple division in 2003. She is located in Paw Paw.
Besides bargaining, MACMA operates a processing apple sales desk and runs a market information program for growers that includes a newsletter. Her division also manages the American Apple Marketing Association’s Processing Apple Program, which provides services to all the major Eastern apple producing state associations affiliated with American Farm Bureau.
Drake is also a leader who works with other Michigan fruit organizations, seeking to influence government policy and organize fruit growers. The Michigan fruit industry lobbies for USDA fruit purchases for school lunches and holds an annual tour for Environmental Protection Agency staff people to help them better understand the industry they regulate.
She is currently working with other leaders as they attempt to form the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission.
Drake and her husband, Dale, have adult children and grandchildren.
The Pomesters award, technically named the Fruit Man of the Year, has been given annually since 1962 and has been given to women six times.