March/April 2021

On January 27, 2021, President Biden’s executive order sent a loud and clear message regarding his administration’s plans to tackle climate change. Framed in the context of a domestic and international climate crisis, it called for a holistic international leadership of the United States on climate issues. The future political outlook calls the fresh produce sector to pay extra attention to climate change.

Sonia Salas

Five years ago, Western Growers launched its Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT), housed in the Taylor Farms building in downtown Salinas. WGCIT brings together the ag industry and firms operating in the technology space to actively work on some of agriculture’s most vexing problems.

Tim Linden

Bakersfield-based Grimmway Farms is the classic story of “How it Started…How it’s Going.” Grimmway originally launched in the 1960s as a small produce stand opened by the Grimm brothers, selling corn to the local community. Today, it produces more than 65 seasonal and year-round products distributed globally and ranks as the world’s largest producer of carrots. Much of Grimmway’s success is attributed to business-savvy decisions and its commitment to caring for customers and employees.

By Walt Duflock, Vice President, Innovation

On February 11, 2021, Western Growers announced the launch of the Global Harvest Automation Initiative (GHAI). This initiative will provide several benefits for entrepreneurs and startups. First, Western Grower is clearly indicating an intent to help solve the food security problems caused by decreasing labor availability and increasing labor costs. This will bring attention and resources to the space as investors and growers bring investment and field trial activity to help address the harvest challenges.

A collection on Western Growers "wins" on behalf of its members. 

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WG’s Federal Team advocated for and secured improvements to the original Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to better meet the needs of member operations, such as expanding the range of eligible commodities and streamlining the application process. WG was also able to expand eligibility by changing a USDA rule that limited the types of farm owners who can receive funds.

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Most of our members tend to think about cyber liability in the traditional sense of “personal information of my customers and employees.” Because they don’t sell directly to the consumer, or have a limited number of employees, they don’t see any exposure.

Cyber risk has evolved well beyond this narrow definition of privacy liability. Some of the more common classifications are the following:

Jeff Gullickson

Nothing means more to us than taking care of essential workers who ensure the continuity of our food supply. We are committed to helping businesses maintain their operations and keeping their employees safe and healthy. Many agricultural employers are implementing screening and testing protocols as part of their COVID-19 prevention program, and rest assured, Western Growers Assurance Trust (WGAT) is here to help every step of the way.

By Tim Linden

Robert Medler joined Western Growers in mid-January as the organization’s new manager of Arizona government affairs. He hit the ground running as the Legislature was in session, but the transition was seamless as he was previously the chief lobbyist for the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce.

Q: Briefly detail your path from college to Western Growers?

Tim Linden

George Pappas, Principal & President

Pappas Family Farm

Mendota, CA

Farm Established 1933 by George Pappas, uncle of Current Principal George Pappas

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Has your produce diversified since the start of your operation in 1933?

Yes, we’ve diversified our crops over the years. Now we grow cantaloupe, watermelons, honeydew and sweet corn. We also have some joint deals where we grow produce for other packers.

How has the pandemic affected your operation?

The Ag Center 59

Alsco-Geyer Irrigation Inc

All American Drilling Inc

Demos Farm Fresh LLC

Gallagher Farming Company LLC

Gregory P Crossgrove Inc

HR Mobile Services Inc

Millennium Pacific Greenhouses Inc.

NGB Markets Inc

N Drip Inc

Oakbend Dairy

Parabug, LLC


Phytologix Agroscience Services LLC

Radical Plastics Inc

Schuil & Associates Inc

Skyline Dairy

Twin Buttes Enterprises Inc

Ultra Gro

Westwind Farms


Member Anniversaries

As we start the new Biden Administration, water policy and water infrastructure hold a prominent position. President Biden has indicated that he is concerned about job growth because of COVID’s impact. With so many Americans out of work or underemployed he wants to jump start the economy and believes an infrastructure bill can help do that.

President Biden also believes that a major infrastructure push is critical to addressing the challenge of China having recently said: “If we don’t get going moving, they’re going to eat our lunch.”

By Ellen Hanak

California’s increasingly volatile warming climate is making droughts more intense, and complicating water management. A just-launched commodity futures market for the state’s water provides a new tool for farmers, municipalities and other interested parties to ensure against water price shocks arising from drought-fueled shortages.

In an effort to further combat climate change and habitat loss, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order on October 7, 2020, directing state agencies to accelerate actions to battle climate change, protect biodiversity and build resilience through nature-based solutions. The order establishes a state goal of conserving at least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 to address the biodiversity and climate crisis.

How the 30x30 Executive Order Affects Agriculture

By Stephanie Metzinger, Communications Manager

The United States is currently undergoing an extreme societal shift, as Baby Boomers (U.S. adults born 1946 to 1964) continue to retire and Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) have now become the largest generation in the labor force. According to the Pew Research Center, in the third quarter of 2020, about 28.6 million Baby Boomers reported that they were out of the labor force due to retirement. This is 3.2 million more Boomers than the 25.4 million who were retired in the same quarter of 2019.

Stephanie Metzinger

Director Profile: J.P. LaBrucherie, LaBrucherie Produce, El Centro, CA

By Tim Linden

It was in 1911 that Jean Pierre LaBrucherie emigrated from France and came to California’s Imperial Valley. He started a dairy farm and grew alfalfa and other forage crops. His son, Matthew, added a vegetable operation in the 1950s, raised cattle and started a hay export company. The next generation was led by Tim, who expanded their vegetable presence, and continued to build the produce operation on what was then called LaBrucherie Ranch.

Tim Linden

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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.