March/April 2018

In recent months, several retailers around the country have asked their produce suppliers to have at least $5 million invested in recall insurance in the event that a contamination issue leads to costly disruption at the retail level.

Tim Linden

On January 1, 2018, AB 450, the Immigrant Worker Protection Act went into effect. The law was the California Legislature’s response to an anticipated increase in federal immigration enforcement actions under the Trump administration and was aimed at protecting the roughly 1.75 million undocumented and falsely documented workers in California from possible deportation.

It’s been a long road since the signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, and recently you’ve more than likely been hearing much talk about preparation and compliance. FSMA has resulted in several food safety regulations, of which seven are relevant to the produce sector.

Into yet another election year we lurch. In California, battle lines are being drawn in key races and around key ballot measures. Perhaps well over $1 billion will be spent on political campaigns large and small across the state, with obscene sums thrown at the marquee contests for governor and U.S. Senator.

Can smart technology offer remote irrigation for agriculture that’s affordable? With the help of WaterBit, the answer is “absolutely.”

When Manu Pillai, founder of WaterBit, was growing up in Nigeria, prolonged droughts were a typical occurrence. The massive shortage of water supply wiped out agriculture and devastated the country, severely hindering the ability of Nigeria’s economy to thrive. Pillai saw how it depleted his homeland and wanted to develop a solution that would address this issue globally.

Chatter surrounding the latest in technology and ag innovation filled the corridors of the Stockmen’s Club in Brawley, CA, on February 8. Drawing a crowd of nearly 200 people, Western Growers’ Innovation in the Imperial Valley Summit brought together farmers, researchers, technologists and agtech startups to delve into the labor and water issues facing agriculture in this desert region and the specific technologies being invented to help solve those issues.

The clock strikes midnight and disagreements continue to hold strong. The realization that they just missed a crucial deadline is slowly starting to sink in among the management team at agtech startup SWIIM System. Gradually, dissent about how the project should have been carried out dissipates, but one glaring fact remains: the company’s culture has to change.

Several years ago, I opined in this column about the need for fewer politicians and more statesmen; individuals who are willing to look at more than ideology; individuals who are willing to roll up their sleeves and reach across the aisle; individuals who are willing to take political risk for the greater good that can be achieved.

Tom Nassif

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