May/June 2022

In a recent blog post, the respected Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) suggests a startling future for the Central Valley.

Noting that “a significant amount of irrigated farmland… will need to come out of production over the next two decades” due to drought and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the writer suggests converting formerly irrigated farmland into livestock rangeland would keep the land economically productive and “might bring other benefits—including avoiding some of the negative consequences of fallowing.”

As it does every two years, the Western Growers membership is approaching election season for its Board of Directors. Western Growers is one of the very few produce industry associations that elects the lion’s share of its Board in competitive races with a plurality vote picking the winner.

Tim Linden


Like many of his colleagues on the Western Growers Board of Directors, Mike Way grew up in Salinas, graduated from Salinas High School and went to college to major in ag business.

But he was not born with agriculture in his blood.

“I was born and raised in downtown Salinas,” he recalls. “My dad was City Attorney of Salinas, and my mom was a homemaker.”

Tim Linden

For Wish Farms, a donation to World Central Kitchen for the non-profit’s work in Ukraine was about more than wanting to help a country in turmoil. It was personal.

Media coverage of war zones has always been a harrowing affair—for centuries, journalists put their lives on the line alongside soldiers in order to give readers, listeners and viewers back home a sense of the visceral reality around them in an attempt to clarify the fog of war.

Ann Donahue

Heather Mulholland is a fourth-generation citrus grower in Orange Cove, Calif., where she works alongside her family as COO at Mulholland Citrus.

Farming is something she has been drawn to since she was a child—her sixth grade science project was on beneficial insects—and after attaining a bachelor’s degree at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a master’s at Cal State University, Fresno, Heather put her years of training into action.

Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris freely admits it was the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016 that first led her to consider a career in an elected office.

“It was a wake-up call for a lot of us, ” she said.

In fact, there was a clarion call for women to get involved and become candidates. “We wanted a seat at the table,” is how Assemblymember Petrie-Norris described it.

Tim Linden

In October 2020, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury (the “Departments”) released the Transparency in Coverage Final Rules (TIC) to require health plans to provide greater cost transparency. Two months later, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA) was signed into law, representing the most significant changes to the private insurance market since the Affordable Care Act.

There’s been a consistent rise in the cost of health care in the last decade. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average cost of employee health insurance premiums increased by 4 percent in 2021 from the previous year to $22,221. On a macro level, premiums for individuals and families increased 22 percent over the last five years and 47 percent over the last 10 years.

We’ve highlighted a few solutions that will enable employers to control their health care costs while providing affordable and quality health care.

Choosing the Right Plan

David Zanze

There are many areas in the western United States where specialty crops are grown in proximity to—or at an immediate interface with—various types of domesticated animal operations. These mixed agricultural regions raise important concerns about the potential of human pathogen transfer from animals to crops.

De Ann Davis

Many rural California economies revolve around agriculture, which produces healthy fruits, nuts, and vegetables, as well as crop revenues and local jobs for both agriculture and service industries that support agriculture. To maintain these rural economies, three major problems need to be addressed—labor, water and food safety. California’s annual crop output  produces close to $50 billion annually, and Monterey County is a top five producer with $4 billion in crop revenue in 2021.

Walt Duflock

Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Western Growers provides a lobbying voice in state and federal government, affordable health benefits, technology and innovation development, transportation solutions, legal and human resources guidance and more.

Behind the association are more than 400 employees who are dedicated to serving America’s food heroes; here is an inside look at two of Western Growers’ champions.

Ann Donahue

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.