March/April 2022

Back in July 2020, I wrote in this column about the increasing use of the term “resilience” in water policy circles. Looking back at that column, I wondered if I had been a little snarky and dismissive. After all, we all want and need a water infrastructure and governing system that is, among other things, resilient. Especially as we endure the changing climate impacts on our snowpack throughout the West.

Then again, if one were to embark on a mission to fundamentally change the water policies that have enabled California and other Western states to grow and prosper over their history, asserting that those very systems—water infrastructure and governance—no longer provide resiliency would be a smart way to create broad acceptance of the need for reforms.

Dave Puglia

Born into a farming family in the Central Valley, agriculture runs in Sarah McClarty’s blood. Sarah grew up helping out on her family farm, Gillette Citrus Co., and went on to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to pursue a degree in business, with a concentration in accounting. After graduation, she landed a position at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in Orange County.

Stephanie Metzinger

Beyond growing food that feeds the nation, farmers also are business owners, scientists, agronomists, entomologists, meteorologists, environmentalists and so much more.

The “second job” that elevates above the rest, however, is being an advocate for the industry. Advocating for the future of farming (also known as “agvocacy”) and meeting with lawmakers to provide a first-hand account of how laws directly affect agricultural operations go hand-in-hand with being a farmer.

Stephanie Metzinger

The fresh produce industry exists to offer safe and nutritious food. Many investments and controls continue to be implemented with the goal of enhancing fresh produce safety. Contamination can come from different sources on and outside the farm, including agricultural water. Therefore, knowing how to manage water quality is critical to reducing produce safety risks during fresh produce production. However, questions remain regarding agricultural water management and where it is heading.

When Western Growers Assurance Trust (WGAT) was founded in 1957, our mission was to give Western Growers (WG) members an affordable option for health care benefits by offering highly customizable benefit plans to meet their diverse needs. Our focus continues to be supporting our members and ensuring a healthy future for the agricultural community. More than six decades later, we are still committed to our original mission and have expanded health benefit services to meet the growing needs of agricultural businesses. 

David Zanze

In California, extortion is defined as “1) obtaining property or other consideration from another…induced by a 2) wrongful use of force or fear, or 3) under color of official right.” In many cases, Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) litigation has fallen nothing short of extortion in which attorneys are paid handsomely by using the fear of protracted litigation in furtherance of PAGA. With the three legs of the extortion stool supporting PAGA, there is little recourse for companies.

Western Growers Insurance Services (WGIS) has assembled a few ounces of prevention to take a pound of power away from PAGA attorneys.

Western Growers has rolled out the first-ever HarvestWiki—a Wikipedia-like platform to help farmers share information about growing operations, allowing agtech startups to have as much crop-specific information as possible when they design and develop agtech solutions for growers. HarvestWiki is focused on specialty crops—so if you’re a grower or a startup focused on fruits, vegetables or nuts, this is the place to be. HarvestWiki can be found at https://harvest.wginnovation.com/.

Walt Duflock

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.

Below is update from some of the startups housed in the WGCIT.

Agtools

Tim Linden

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