January/February 2019

What is brand journalism, and why should you care about it?

Because traditional media is dying, and brand journalism offers a way for you to tell your story, the way you want it told.

The weekday circulation for daily newspapers—both print and digital—in the United States dropped 8 percent in 2016, marking the 28th consecutive year of declines. Print circulation fell from a high of nearly 60 million in 1994 to a combined 35 million for print and digital today.

By Chris Oerman


2018 turned out to be a lackluster year for the equity markets after an unprecedented nine quarters of earnings growth and a historic bull run dating back to 2011. All of the major indices had flat or negative returns for the year, and it’s been hard to find any sort of growth out of equities with consumer discretionary, healthcare, and utilities – typically viewed as defensive sectors – leading the way (and barely clinging on to positive returns).

By Sonia Salas


The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) expanded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) inspectional authority and imposed many new requirements. Do you know what to do if a Produce Safety Rule (PSR) inspector knocks on your door?

PSR regulatory inspections are around the corner! They are set to begin in the spring of 2019. In most states (including Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico), inspections will be conducted by your state department of agriculture under a cooperative agreement with FDA.

Sonia Salas

The Democratic-controlled California Legislature was very busy last year, passing over 1,200 bills, more than 1,000 of which were signed into law by the governor. Dozens of employment and labor bill were signed into law, and several of those were instigated by the #MeToo movement. All of the laws summarized below are effective January 1, 2019, unless otherwise noted.


Sexual Harassment Prevention Training

By Matt Luis


Being born and raised in the Central Valley, I’ve been surrounded by farming and production agriculture my entire life. But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago, when I came to Western Growers, that I embarked on a journey that allowed me to truly understand the complexities of an agricultural operation so I could help better protect businesses from potential losses.

Despite the uncertainty of the Affordable Care Act mandate, employers continue to pay a significant portion of the cost for employee health benefits. Now more than ever, employers need to educate their employees on the true value of those benefits, not just at open enrollment time, but throughout the year. Here are some reasons why communicating more about your health plan to employees is important and tips on how to share the information successfully.

Why Communicate

David Zanze

ZAG Technical Services, Inc.—a leading IT consulting and services company—joined the Western Growers (WG) family a few years ago as a Partner Sponsor for its Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) in Salinas, CA. In addition to assisting agtech start-up companies in bringing their inventions from development to market, ZAG is dedicated to helping its larger grower clients and WG members succeed by reducing systemic risk, increasing productivity and ensuring security.

As we ring in the New Year we will be welcoming a new Congress to Washington. As all of you know that Congress will look very different in the House of Representatives than what was in place after the 2016 election, as Democrats are in control.

Across California, landowners, water managers and local government officials are struggling to develop sweeping plans to bring more than 100 groundwater basins and sub-basins into compliance with the most dramatic change to the state’s water laws in over a century.

In the few short years since the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), dozens of conferences, hundreds of analyses produced by academics, hydrologists and water lawyers, and a mind-numbing cascade of meetings have consumed the attention and work of local water managers and those they serve.

(Editor’s Note: Tim Dunn was appointed to the Arizona House of Representatives to represent Arizona’s 13th Legislative District. After earning his Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from the University of Arizona, Rep. Dunn started his own grain company alongside his father.  As a proud Yuma native, he understands the agricultural needs of his city.)


Being born and raised in Yuma, how would you describe Yuma to an outsider who has never visited?

Researchers in Australia first began looking at a new technique called speed breeding eight years ago, and U.S. researchers have followed suit with their own trial projects in recent years.

The concept involves exposing plants to an inordinate amount of light in a close greenhouse environment in an effort to speed up the growing process and produce new generations of seeds in a much quicker fashion. The initial research in Australia involved wheat but there have also been some efforts to apply the new technique to vegetables and other crops.

Tim Linden

Modesto, CA-based Ratto Bros. Inc. is very representative of the agricultural industry at large. It has a long family history in agriculture and deep roots so commonplace in the fresh produce industry. But it also has developed its own unique niche that has set it apart from the norm and allowed it to thrive as a medium-sized California grower-shipper.

Leading that firm and also helming Western Growers as the 2019 chairman of the board is Ron Ratto, the third generation of his family to run the business, and fifth generation of the family to farm in California.

On November 6, Gavin Newsom rode into the California Governor’s Mansion on a blue wave (which some are dubbing a “blue-nami”) that all but wiped out Republican relevance in the state for the foreseeable future. At 61.8% of the vote—which included a victory in Orange County, which went for a Democratic governor for the first time in 40 years—Newsom tallied the largest gubernatorial point spread since 1950. California’s delegation to the U.S.

Tom Nassif

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