July/August 2017

By David Duvall

Western Growers Insurance Services

When people think about the term “recall,” they tend to visualize an automobile manufacturer alerting customers that there is a problem with their car model and offering to fix the issue for free. That’s not the case in agriculture, and a “one size fits all” insurance model will not help agribusinesses efficiently manage all risks related to a recall.

In 1976, a couple of accountants—Douglas Hayashi and Warren Wayland—launched their firm in Salinas, California, and naturally matriculated to the agricultural industry as the number one industry in town. Forty-one years later they are still serving that constituency and have become ag accounting experts. So much so that they are a sponsor of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT).

Tim Linden

Ag technology is the new buzz word and most suppliers operating in this space currently have cutting edge products on the market, in production or on the drawing table.

There are certainly many other firms operating in most disciplines and every grower-shipper is encouraged to call your supplier or distributor and find out what’s new. Solutions to your biggest challenges may already be available. Here are several innovations to consider.

Sixty years ago, Western Growers Association launched the agriculture industry’s first program allowing agribusinesses to easily offer health plans to their employees: the Western Growers Assurance Trust (WGAT). Today, WGAT is the largest provider of health benefits for the agricultural industry specializing in highly customizable benefit plans to meet the diverse needs of owners, managers, field workers and seasonal employees. The Cedar Network, which features our four Cedar Health and Wellness Centers, is part of WGAT’s offerings.

David Zanze


One of the most difficult conversations I have with my clients nearing retirement age is how much fixed income investments will pay them during the course of their retirement years. The most common question these clients ask me is: “What can I expect to earn on my money without risking too much?”

Matt Lewis

Observers of California politics often preface their analyses by reminding us that “demographics are destiny.”  The original source of this quote is disputed, but few doubt its logic. In the last few years, Latinos moved past non-Hispanic whites to capture the largest share of the state’s population, and the trend appears to be increasing such that Latinos will soon constitute the majority. This demographic fact leads some Republicans to despair for the future of their already-reduced position in the Legislature and in other elected offices.

Dave Puglia

A large “BOOM” echoes through the remote Salinas foothills in late October 1998. In the distance, there is a downed helicopter with a lone pilot, David Gill, crawling out of the wreckage. His body is nearly broken, but his spirit is more determined than ever.

Knowing that he is badly injured, Gill has to find help quickly. He limps for nearly half of a mile until he finds a house where he is able to use a telephone to call for assistance.

Stephanie Metzinger

For the past three years, the Forbes AgTech Summit has been an impressive showcase of the latest and greatest in agtech innovation from around the globe. This year, the jam-packed event went from impressive to spectacular.

More than 600 people gathered in the heart of downtown Salinas, California on June 27–28, 2017, to hear from industry leaders about the most pressing challenges facing agriculture, as well as from the entrepreneurs who are inventing technologies to help solve those issues.

On any given day, the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) is buzzing with energy from entrepreneurs who are all collaborating on innovative ideas and technologies to help solve agriculture’s biggest challenges. You’ll see the young engineers of HeavyConnect working side by side in the collaborative cubicles, coding new software that will eliminate paperwork in the field and streamline farm operations. In the back, you’ll find TracMap conducting equipment testing on its precision guidance system that enhances the application of crop protection products.

It’s 3 p.m. and Jeffrey Orrey, CEO of GeoVisual Analytics, is pulling up a computer screen full of red, yellow and blue pictures to analyze the imagery collected from the fields earlier that morning. “We routinely monitor the fields using airplanes, drones and mobile phones to help farmers reduce production uncertainties and increase profits,” said Orrey as he clicks from field to field on the screen.

Stephanie Metzinger

For the 92nd time in its storied 92-year history, Western Growers will be hosting its Annual Meeting, a yearly opportunity for members to gather and reflect on the recent achievements of the fresh produce industry, and to chart a collective, sustainable path forward. Just as many of our members are looking for ways to add value to the products they bring to market, Western Growers is approaching the 2017 Annual Meeting event schedule and featured guests with a singular focus on adding value to the bottom line for our members.

Few things make me cringe more than being told, “That’s the way it’s always been done.” It represents a way of thinking that can stifle imagination, innovation and creativity, and in any competitive marketplace it almost always leads to failure. We take great care here at Western Growers to continually ask ourselves, and our members, what needs to change, what do we need to do differently, what do we need to create, and to do all of it at the speed of an entrepreneurial business. Our members do that every day; they should expect nothing less from their trade association.

Tom Nassif

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