November/December 2020

In his sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll depicts a fantastical world in which his heroine finds that, like a reflection in a mirror, everything is reversed, including logic. Since Through the Looking-Glass was published in 1871, the idiom has come to describe situations where you find the opposite of what is normal or would be expected.

This frame of reference often pops into my mind as I observe our elected officials and regulatory agencies in California.

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

Companies engaged in international trade face an ever-increasing amount of challenges in their import and export transactions on account of increased tariffs and regulatory scrutiny. Managing trade data on a routine day-to-day basis can be overwhelming and challenging but is a necessary task to assist with company-internal management of trade transactions.

By Tim Linden

As 2020 moves toward the finish line, FarmWise has completed its first commercial season using automated machines to eliminate weeds on a variety of crops in the Santa Maria and Salinas regions. The company has now deployed its 12 machines for winter vegetable production in Yuma offering the same weeding service to growers in that region as it continues to prove that artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are real time solutions for growers.

Though COVID-19 has left a trail of destruction, the pandemic has also brought forth numerous opportunities for growth. One such being an opportunity for employers to play a central role in helping build a more resilient health system for the future.

For many employers, this period of economic strain brought about by pandemic-induced recession has exacerbated the challenges of managing the health care costs of employees. Western Growers Insurance Services (WGIS) has taken steps to alleviate that burden for you.

Millions of Americans were struggling with depression before COVID-19 reared its ugly head. The number of adults in the U.S. showing signs of depression has tripled since the start of the pandemic, according to a recent study by JAMA Network Open. With prompted quarantines, stay-at-home orders, halted social events, job insecurities, personal finances, and other high stressors, it isn’t a surprise that a pandemic would take a toll on mental health.

David Zanze

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) outbreaks in 2018 and 2019 linked to leafy greens have raised many questions regarding recurring STEC outbreaks. Until 2018 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) presented their analysis of eight years-worth of data to industry, it was largely unknown that seasonality seemed to be playing a role in STEC outbreaks associated with leafy greens. When and how have transition periods between growing leafy green regions become periods of vulnerability to STEC contamination?

Sonia Salas

Pesticides continue to be a divisive issue, both in Washington and in the West. On one side, they provide much needed respite from the myriad challenges facing the produce industry, while on the other, environmental advocates push to restrict their use for concerns over the health and environmental issues. To help you remain up to speed on the current debate, here is a snapshot of federal pesticide issues.

Mexico Phasing-Out Glyphosate

We have witnessed first-hand the unpredictability of 2020. The twists and turns caused by the layering of the COVID-19 pandemic, devastating wildfires, and widespread social unrest have left us wondering what challenge could possibly be next. Our industry has faced enormous obstacles this year with the closure of the foodservice sector and schools. The loss of those markets, albeit temporarily, combined with the significant investment in personal protective equipment and new regulations, have put our industry on edge.

By Chardae Heim

Jimmy Panetta, who proudly serves California’s 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, has continually demonstrated a steadfast commitment to ensuring the sustainability and success of the nation’s food supply. Since being sworn into office in 2017, Rep. Panetta has fought for everything from immigration reform and accessible healthcare to the protection of the agriculture industry and its farmers and farmworkers.

Chardae Heim

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