ARLINGTON, VA — March 30, 2011 — Vermont Grocers Association President Jim Harrison received the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Donald H. MacManus Association Executive Award in recognition of his professional skills, knowledge and passion for the industry he represents and his tenacity of purpose in the legislative arena.

     The award was presented at the industry’s Washington Public Policy Conference hosted by FMI, the National Grocers Association and Food Industry Association Executives (FIAE).

     “Jim Harrison has been a compelling and effective industry advocate,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and chief executive officer, presenting the award. “He has been a true soldier and leader in the debit and credit card interchange fee battle. It was through his association’s hard work last year, that the state of Vermont became the first state to pass an interchange bill that allows merchants to set minimum purchases for the use of credit and debit cards.”

     Harrison has led the Vermont association for 24 years, representing nearly 700 retailers and more than 240 suppliers to the industry. He has orchestrated numerous victories for food retailers and small businesses — including the defeat of a complex beverage tax and his on-going work to rebuff the expansion of the state’s bottle bill.

Addressing critical issues such as interchange has been an important mission for Harrison. He helped to identify and educate one of the industry’s most passionate advocates on Capitol Hill, Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT). He was also instrumental in identifying and preparing one of the most effective witnesses to testify about interchange fees on behalf of the industry, Kathy Miller who owns the Elmore Store in Elmore, VT.

Harrison is admired for his calm and unassuming way. He has a stellar reputation among colleagues and legislators for his ability to translate complex issues and brief public officials on the true impact of proposed laws and regulations on the grocer’s bottom line.

Harrison has been instrumental in the success of one of the most noteworthy events held each year in the Senate Caucus Room on Capitol Hill — the Taste of Vermont offers all Senators a sampling of the many wonderful Vermont specialties.   

Background on the MacManus Award

FMI honors an association leader annually with the Donald H. MacManus award, now in its 21st year. This award recognizes an association executive for extraordinary leadership in public affairs, industry relations and community relations. MacManus served the industry for many years as executive director of the Rocky Mountain Food Dealers Association and as FMI’s Western Region director. He also served in the Colorado State Senate, rising to the position of Democratic whip.

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Note to Editors: Photos of the award presentation are available upon request.