Date: Feb 14, 2013

At a time when immigration reform, food safety, water quality regulations, government over-regulation and other threats and opportunities face the fresh produce industry, Western Growers is helping to support a new generation of leaders. Hailing from California, nine future leaders met this week for the beginning of two-year adventure in the Western Growers Future Volunteer Leaders Program.

This energetic group of leaders ages 24 to 40 attended a two-day orientation session at Western Growers’ headquarters in Irvine, Calif.  and is the second group of up-and-comers to participate in the program.  During the year they will have the opportunity to develop an understanding of the state and federal legislative process and how public policy issues affect the industry. The young leaders will travel to Sacramento, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. to meet with state and federal legislators, engage in political advocacy, and attend meetings of the WG Board of Directors.

“Whether you realize it or not, so much of what happens in the halls of state and federal government impacts farmers and the fresh produce industry as a whole,” said Dave Puglia, senior vice president of government affairs and communications for Western Growers. “A multitude of interests outside of agriculture are focused on shaping the laws affecting labor, water supply, environmental regulation, land use, food safety and many other issues. It is more important than ever for legislators and regulators to hear directly from the real experts, our farmers and the businesses they support. These future leaders are that next generation of voices.”

Future leaders for this year’s program include:
Keith Barnard with Mission Produce, of Oxnard, Calif.; John Chandler with Chandler Farms, of Selma, Calif.; Megan Chedwick with Church Brothers, of Salinas, Calif.; Tyler Colace with Five Crowns Marketing, of Brawley, Calif.; Ryan Horwath of Gonzalez Packing/SSH Farms, of Gonzales, Calif.; Wheeler Morgan with Far West Ranches (Famous Farms), of Brawley, Calif.; Bryan Nickerson with Prime Time International, of Coachella, Calif.; Anthony Ratto with Foothill Packing, of Santa Maria, Calif. and Matt Scaroni with Scaroni Family of Companies, of Heber, Calif.

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