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      Local tree-fruit group merging in hopes to help growers

      YAKIMA, Wash. -- Four Central Washington tree-fruit groups will join together in hopes of giving the industry a unified voice.

      The groups will start combining operations next week. They include the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association.

      The process won't be finished for several months.

      The new Washington State Tree Fruit Association will have offices in Yakima and Wenatchee.

      Officials say they hope the merger will give growers more clout with lawmakers.
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