January/February 2018

In 2017, we saw an astounding increase in the number of companies utilizing social media to tell their brand’s story. Industries such as retail, hospitality and tech captivated their audiences by mastering the art of storytelling on free platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.

Stephanie Metzinger

At the time of this writing, the massive inferno of the Thomas fire is finally under control, at 92 percent contained. This fire, the largest in California’s history, has ravaged more than 280,000 acres and destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses—many of which are of Western Growers members. And to top it off, the Thomas fires comes on the heels of mega wildfires earlier this year that engulfed a good chunk of Northern California and burned on the hills of Orange County.

In the second week of December 2017, Federal Reserve officials decided to raise interest rates. The Fed funds rate was raised from 1.25 percent to 1.50 percent, and along with this change, officials raised guidance on GDP growth to 2.5 percent, up from 2.1 percent forecasted in the September Fed meeting.

By Steve Gabrick
C.H. Robinson Regional Sales Manager

 

Today’s supply chains are changing—they are becoming increasingly complex—especially when fresh produce and other perishable commodities are involved. There are many reasons behind this, but consumer buying influences, multi-channel sales, and speed of the order seem to be driving the most change.

Sexual harassment is not a recent phenomenon. However, recent allegations against high-profile figures in entertainment, media, sports, business and politics show how important it is to address inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Sexual harassment is often downplayed or worse—excused, sanctioned and obscured. It is important to educate your workforce and to establish a culture where any inappropriate behavior is not an option. Training on sexual harassment prevention is a great start.

What is Harassment?

If you ask Hazel Technologies co-founder and CEO Aidan Mouat where the idea came from for creating the technology that helps prevent food waste by keeping fresh produce edible longer, don’t expect to hear an astonishing tale of discovery. “Everybody always thinks there is this ‘Eureka!’ moment in chemistry where some flash of inspiration starts the ball rolling on a new technology,” Mouat said during a recent interview.  “Our story is a little more pedestrian than that.”

open and found an official looking link to a file sharing service (that I am familiar with) asking me to open and review the attachment. Even though this was from someone I know—and trust—the language and lack of detail just seemed a bit fishy (phishy?) to me. Instead of opening the link—I opted to reach out and verify that this was indeed a legitimate email and that a member did indeed wish me to open and review the document.

Hank Giclas

On January 1, 2018, a number of new employment laws will take effect in California. These laws will have a significant impact on California employers and companies with operations in the state. Prompt action will need to be taken to ensure compliance, including revising employment policies and practices such as hiring and compensation practices, employee handbooks, and notices. Below is a summary of many of the laws that affect agricultural employers. All are effective January 1, 2018, unless otherwise noted.

 

WAGE & HOUR

On November 1, 2017, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted—by the narrowest of margins—to allow growers utilizing container, hydroponic or aquaponics production to keep their organic certification. While the NOSB is advisory in nature, with the staff of the National Organic Program and other USDA officials making the final call, this vote is significant in that it maintains the organic integrity of growing practices employed in many non-traditional, urban farming-type scenarios, including vertical farming.

When the clock hit 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, six startup companies fiercely pitched their technologies to a panel of investors and farmers in hopes of receiving generous investment offers and ample acreage to pilot their innovations. Two startups left with monumental offers while others left with partnerships that will be key to the companies’ ability to scale.

Member Profile

Jeff Huckaby

CEO/President Grimmway Farms

Bakersfield, California

Member Since 1986

Grimmway Farms began as a sweet corn growing operation in Orange County in the 1960s, morphed into the largest carrot grower in the world in the 1990s in Kern County, and is now also the largest organic grower of vegetables in the United States.

All of this points to a diversified company with a wide portfolio of crops and services. That is true but longtime employee and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Huckaby said “it is still all about the carrots.”

Though Craig Reade’s dad was in the oil industry, he grew up around agriculture in the Central Coast and always knew he was destined to be in the farming business.

“From the time I was 10 years old, I was driving a tractor on a neighbor’s farm and I knew that was what I wanted to do,” he said.

Reade worked on farms in high school and college, majored in Ag Business Management at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and helped start a soil laboratory at nearby Betteravia Farms while still in college. Now, more than 35 years later, he is still at Betteravia Farms.

Tim Linden

With several initiatives and numerous statewide and Congressional offices up for grabs, 2018 will be a busy political year. I recently wrote about Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, whose strong economic policies and sensible approach to regulation have set him on course for a successful reelection campaign.

California, as always, is a different story.

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