Kasey Cronquist, president of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC), has been named the National Agri-Marketing Association’s (NAMA) Ag Association Leader of the Year for 2022. Cronquist was recognized at an awards ceremony April 7 at the 2022 Agri-Marketing Conference in Kansas City.
The award, one of NAMA’s highest honors, recognizes outstanding leadership, achievement and excellence among senior executives who have made significant contributions to the agriculture industry in their roles with associations or commodity organizations.
“With more than 15 years’ experience with government, association, and non-profits, Kasey was named president of the North American Blueberry Council and the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council in 2019. It was the perfect place and time,” said Jenny Pickett, NAMA CEO. “Long-term, strategic vision is Kasey’s strength. And while the industry was riding high, new challenges demanded a bold, new vision to ensure continued growth.”
Soon after taking the helm in 2019, Cronquist led the organization through a strategic refresh, followed by development of a new strategic plan, with a refined vision, mission and plan to make blueberries the world’s favorite fruit. Cronquist recognized the importance of fostering greater collaboration among all industry stakeholders and the need to unite to address challenges and opportunities that will take USHBC programs to the next level. The industry’s support of the changes and vision for the future were reflected in the results of the 2021 referendum. Of those who voted, 84% of producers and importers, who also represent 93% of the volume of highbush blueberries grown, were in favor of continuing the program. This represents a 10% increase in producers and importers (and 13% more volume), of those who voted in favor of USHBC in 2016.
In 2020, USHBC launched a new overarching brand theme of Inspiring Possibilities for the industry, as well as Grab a Boost of Blue as a motivating call-to-action for consumers. Additionally, the USA Blueberriesexport brand was created to raise awareness of the quality and food safety assurance of U.S. grown blueberries. In June 2020, Cronquist initiated “The Business of Blueberries,” an industry podcast currently surpassing 35,000 downloads.
In his short time with the organization, Cronquist has built a staff of longtime ag experts to execute the organization’s strategic plan; expanded the NABC and USHBC’s programs through voluntary funding; and led the USHBC through pandemic challenges, including labor and supply chain issues.
“Kasey has made a tremendous impact helping the blueberry industry thrive and leading the USHBC into an exciting and successful future,” said USHBC Chair Shelly Hartmann. “His efforts have impressed blueberry growers, marketers, exporters and industry allies alike, and have become the guiding force in making blueberries the world’s favorite fruit.”
Cronquist is also the president of the North American Blueberry Council; a member of the United Fresh Governmental Affairs Council and the International Blueberry Organization (IBO); He was previously the CEO and ambassador of the California Cut Flower Commission.
About the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
Established in 2000, The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) is a federal agriculture research and promotion program with independent oversight from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). USHBC represents blueberry growers and packers in North and South America who market their blueberries in the United States and overseas, and works to promote the growth and well-being of the entire blueberry industry. USHBC was established by blueberry growers and currently has 2,500 growers, packers and importers. USHBC is committed to providing blueberries that are grown, harvested, packed and shipped in clean, safe environments. Learn more at ushbc.blueberry.org.