Date: Feb 02, 2014
February 2014: The PACA Is Here to Help

A few years ago two very busy H.R. professionals in the agriculture industry, were asked to volunteer their time to work on the Western Growers Professional Compensation & Benefits Survey Advisory Board.  Jorge Suarez, director strategic planning & human resources at Ocean Mist Farms, and Terre Catanzaro, chief administrative officer at JV Smith & Companies, jumped at the opportunity.

Jorge and Terre continue to provide ongoing leadership and direction for a product they believe is absolutely necessary for an industry they love and fiercely protect.  The two of them believe in doing their part in getting good, reliable, valid compensation and benefits data to the decision makers in the produce industry.  Both welcome questions (about the survey and its process) on how the results have helped them in their work lives (see their contact information on the facing page).

They, like many others in similar positions, are acutely aware of their responsibility to attract and retain professionals and their ability to do so has a direct impact on their organizations’ growth.  Jorge is particularly mindful that competing for the best and brightest is aided by having empirical pay and benefits data specific to California and Arizona’s produce industry.  Often, during discussions regarding the survey, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif will reinforce his belief that “knowledge is power and the entire industry wins when all participate.”  Using the power of this information, he says, will “improve and grow our industry.”

Recently, when planning the changes and improvement opportunities for the 2014 survey, it was suggested that a health care reform subject matter expert be added to the advisory board.  Thankfully, Jon Alexander, general counsel for Western Growers Assurance Trust, said “Yes!” and immediately went to work on framing questions for the 2014 survey.  Jon is unquestionably a reliable expert for all issues relating to health care reform.  His contribution to the 2014 survey questions will provide WG member companies with a comprehensive reality of how specialty crop industry employers are responding to the new law.

The new section of the H.R. Practices survey is titled: Health Care Reform.  The following is a sample of the questions asked.

•  Will you continue to offer a plan after the large employer mandate goes into effect?

•  Are you currently considering options other than offering a health plan?

•  Have you implemented/accounted for additional technology or licensing fees in order to accurately track worker hours as required by the Affordable Care Act?

•  Do you utilize contracted labor, i.e., farm labor contractors?

•  If you do utilize farm labor contractors have you discussed the ramifications of health care reform with them?

•  How will you account for the nondiscrimination requirements expanded to the all benefit plans because of health care reform?


We understand how important it is to maintain individual anonymity.  Hence, we continue to contract with Fran Mueseler, certified compensation specialist at PeopleMatters LLC.  Her integrity is impeccable and no one at Western Growers will ever see individual pay data; only the aggregate results are presented.

Lastly, renewed participation is critical in producing the highest quality industry data.  Therefore, we have made it easier for those who contributed pay and benefits data in 2013 to return in 2014; they need only provide their changes from the previous year to Fran at PeopleMatters on an Excel spreadsheet.

This year we’re adding wineries and nurseries!

The final results continue to be free to those who complete the survey.  The deadline is March 28, 2014, and the results will be published in June 2014.  Please sign up at Participate today and be a part of creating this valuable information for your industry!

WG Staff Contact

Karen Timmins
Sr. Vice President, Human Resources

Join Western Growers

Western Growers members care deeply for the food they grow, the land they sustain, the people they employ, and the community in which they live. 

You May Also Like…