November/December 2022

By Dave Puglia, President and CEO, Western Growers

As we close out the year and come together at the Western Growers Annual Meeting to celebrate all that our industry provides, endures and surmounts, I find myself reflecting a bit more than usual about the foundational strength of this association: Its board of directors.

By Cory Lunde

UCLA basketball coaching legend John Wooden once said: “It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” Though this oft-quoted adage has reached cliché-level status, these words carry tremendous truths for the fresh produce industry and speak to the important roles played by organizations of all shapes, sizes and missions in the collective effort to support the grower community.

By Ann Donahue

For Melissa Kendrick, the CEO and Executive Director of the Food Bank for Monterey County, her mission is two-fold. Like every food bank, the organization strives to end hunger in the community—and in Monterey County, this is a pressing issue, as it is estimated that one in three children and one in four adults are affected by food scarcity. The number of food insecure clients reached by the food bank are now quadruple what they were pre-COVID.

By Tim Linden

Sen. Padilla was first elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1999, serving for seven years. He also served in the California State Senate and as California Secretary of State before being appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2021. He was on the November ballot to both complete the current term and serve a full term.

Give us a thumbnail sketch of your background?

Tim Linden

The Western Growers Transportation Program (WGTP) is an exclusive, turn-key benefit for Western Growers members. Through C.H. Robinson (CHR), this personalized program meets the needs of the most challenging supply chains, providing high-quality service coupled with the latest logistical technology to optimize distribution patterns and lower delivered costs.

By Sonia Salas, AVP, Science

On Sept. 26, 2022, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it is working on developing food safety prevention strategies. Specifically, they shared their first two strategies for 1) salmonellosis and listeriosis associated with imported enoki and wood ear mushrooms and 2) salmonellosis associated with bulb onions. (Additional details are on the FDA Food Safety Prevention Strategy webpage.)

By Matthew Allen, Vice President, State Government Affairs

Attending the circus can be a really fun time for your family, especially for the kids. It’s amazing to watch all of the magical acts, animal tricks and acrobatics taking place. It’s fantastical, and that’s exactly the feeling and impression that you are supposed to have. Attending the circus affords an outlet to temporarily forget the pressures and challenges of daily life and merely sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds.

Tim Linden

By Jason Resnick, Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Labor shortages in agriculture are nothing new. For decades, farmers, ranchers and farm labor contractors have struggled to consistently access all the labor needed to get the job done. There is little doubt that agricultural employers are struggling, more than ever, to find the workers. But there is one sector not experiencing labor scarcity: H-2A users.

By David Zanze, Executive Vice President of Western Growers Assurance Trust

Health insurance is one of the most important investments we make, but for many it has also proven to be one of the most complicated. According to the 2022 Health Insurance Knowledge Snapshot commissioned by Justworks and conducted by Harris Poll, many employed adults find that they’re lacking in knowledge when it comes to their health care benefits. So how can we expect employees to make these important decisions when they don’t understand the full scope of their benefits?

According to the survey:

This year, OGS provided growers with firsthand knowledge and information in areas ranging from agtech to food safety to sustainability, and the events at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa gave attendees the opportunity to watch cutting-edge panels, listen to keynotes from industry leaders and attend vital networking opportunities.

By Walt Duflock, Vice President, Innovation

The cost for an agtech startup to build its initial product and get it into market are among the highest for any tech segment. It frequently runs $50-100 million to get a version 1.0 product into market with partners or direct sales teams that can sell and support it.

Driscoll’s has long been an innovator in the fresh produce industry as it was among the first grower-shippers to establish a proprietary breeding program. Today it has a robust research and development team affecting all aspects of its company. It still has an innovative crop breeding program, and has brought that same forward-thinking passion to water efficiency, labor improvements, agtech adoption, global marketing and sustainability efforts.

Tim Linden

Since its inception, the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology has been a credible incubator for ideas in the agtech space with the goal of bringing news from forward-thinking entrepreneurs to WG members. On the food safety front, WGCIT seeks to be more strategic and intentional around the needs of Western Growers members.

“The idea is to identify companies that are useful to our members and invite them to develop products that focus on improving the food safety tool kit,” said WGCIT Executive Director Dennis Donohue.

The WGCIT was created to link WG members with innovators in the agtech space. Below are news updates from the Center’s startups:


Aanika Biosciences

Tim Linden

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.


Kelly Graves

Tim Linden

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