Stephen Barnard topped off his year as chairman of Western Growers with a rousing speech to the members and guests attending the Major Lunch at WG’s 88th Annual Meeting. With anecdotes illustrating the wisdom of his former partner J.R. Simplot, that also included his own observations, Barnard shared what he had learned from working with Simplot over the years, an icon in the industry who passed away a few years ago at age 99 while working at his desk on a Sunday.
Barnard’s uplifting message was about perseverance, vision and keeping a positive attitude. “Don’t be afraid to lose, and keep getting up when you lose,” said Barnard. “And don’t get distracted by the negative.” In less than 20 minutes and with humor and sincerity, Barnard captured and inspired the entire audience prompting a standing ovation for his entertaining and inspirational words.
Adding to feel-good atmosphere provided by the Barnard speech, a special award was given to Hank Giclas, senior vice president of science, technology and strategic planning, and to Tom Nassif, president and CEO of WG, by the California Leafy Greens Marketing Association (LGMA). The Golden Checkmark was presented to Giclas and Nassif by Ryan Tally, LGMA chairman and Scott Horsfall, LGMA executive director for the leading-edge work.
Nassif and Giclas rallied the industry with the creation and implementation of the LGMA shortly following the 2006 the spinach food safety event. In his acceptance remarks, Nassif acknowledged and thanked other leaders in the fresh produce industry for their help and support and also A.G. Kawamura who served as the secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture at the time.
The Major Lunch culminated in the keynote address given by former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton who focused on the need of the U.S. to maintain peace, strategic alliances and a strong American presence in the world. Somewhat sobering at times, Bolton emphasized the need for better leadership in Washington D.C. and told the audience that agriculture has a significant role in the American economy and in international commerce.
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