May/June 2021

Remember Big Green? Probably less than 1 percent of all Californians do. But I bet many of you remember the 1990 ballot initiative sponsored by environmental activists. The Big Green Initiative (Proposition 128) proposed an aggressive suite of far-reaching regulations and restrictions on several sectors of California’s economy—especially agriculture.

Dave Puglia

By Tim Linden

Director profile: Loren Booth, President, Booth Ranches, Orange Cove, CA
WG Board Member 2009-2012, 2021-present

Otis Booth Jr. inherited a 40-acre citrus ranch in the San Joaquin Valley from his maternal grandfather in the 1950s and became an absentee owner and investor, while he raised his family in the Los Angeles area city of Pasadena.

Tim Linden

Nike and its iconic swoosh. Jeff Bezos and his trillion-dollar Amazon. McDonald’s and those famous golden arches.

When thinking of successful companies, their logos, taglines, owners’ names and key products are the first to spring to mind. Often understated, however, are the hardworking individuals who quietly work backstage to innovate new products, cultivate relationships with customers and develop streamlined procedures to ensure that the business runs efficiently day in and day out.

Rocky Hampton, manager at Lidco, Inc., has been entrenched in the agricultural industry since graduating from Biola University in 2010. He is a sales veteran in all facets of the business—everything from promoting agronomy lab services to selling remote irrigation monitoring equipment and farm drainage systems.

Fun “Rocky” Facts:

Stephanie Metzinger

By Bryan Nickerson, Manager, Trade Practices & Commodity Services

Retailer supplier performance compliance policies have been in force for many years with varying degrees of success. However, the rigorous requirements of the Walmart policy have caused considerable concern among shippers regarding how to retain Walmart’s high volume produce business and avoid fines.

From Easter to Election Day and beyond, holidays and current events provide companies a prime opportunity to cultivate and grow an engaged audience.

By building a digital campaign around a specific date or cause, you can create a far-reaching movement that spurs people to action. In fact, this strategy can also result in gaining more loyal customers and brand ambassadors who are more likely to re-engage with your company throughout the year.

Stephanie Metzinger

By Tim Linden

Building that better variety is a time-consuming endeavor, but over the years seed breeders have developed techniques to target desirable traits and speed up the process. Though these efforts can shave several years off a successful launch of a new variety, development is still measured in years with five years appearing to be a typical average for a new variety to survive the trial period and be offered to the grower community.

By James Burling

The United States Supreme Court is about to decide a case that was planted in the fertile soil of California’s agricultural politics, but which has its roots going back to the first stirrings of colonial resistance against the British empire. What’s more, the results in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid will reverberate across the nation if the Court agrees that landowners need not suffer from state-sponsored trespass.

Western Growers Assurance Trust (WGAT) has specialized in offering affordable, convenient, and customizable benefit plans to meet the diverse needs of owners, managers, field workers, and seasonal employees in the agriculture industry for more than 60 years.

David Zanze

By Eric Trost, Vice President of Employee Benefits, Western Growers Insurance Services

You have been stuck with skyrocketing healthcare costs while your employees face the maze of medical care without the adequate tools and resources they need to be healthy. You can’t measure what you can’t see!

Welcome to Western Growers Insurance Services and Western Growers Assurance Trust—a better way of doing fully insured employee benefits. The next generation of benefits is here.

By De Ann Davis, Senior Vice President, Science

Western Growers is partnering with Creme Global—a leading scientific modeling, data analytics, and computing company—to create a comprehensive food safety data-sharing tool. The project begins with a focus on pre-harvest pathogen testing data and other meta-data, which is collected from participating growers autonomously and anonymously to improve and enhance food safety management.

By Matt Lewis, President, Western Growers Financial Services

There has been a lot of hype around the recent change in administrator and custodian for the Western Growers Retirement Security Plan (RSP), and for good reason. With Northwest Plan Services (NWPS) as our new Third Party Administrator and Charles Schwab as the new custodian of our assets, RSP now offers alternative retirement vehicles to help agricultural employers overcome the challenges associated with traditional 401(k) plans.

Matt Lewis

By Walt Duflock, Vice President, Innovation

Getting all the food planted by growers harvested remains a challenge, particularly in California as labor gets harder to find and more expensive due to increased regulation around minimum wage, overtime, break rules, and payment for non-productive time. Western Growers launched the Global Harvest Automation Initiative to help harvest robot startups get to market and scale faster.

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 an update from some of the startups housed in the WGCIT:

Agrosmart

Tim Linden

The Western Growers Family of Companies is built on the strength of 445 dedicated employees providing expert advocacy and services across multiple business lines. Whether it is securing healthcare benefits for agricultural businesses and their employees or advocating for growers and shippers in the produce industry, WG employees are fully committed to helping ensure the future viability of farmers across the West.

A strong company cannot exist without loyal employees, and below are some of the faces who are at the heart of Western Growers.

Stephanie Metzinger

Join Western Growers

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.