September/October 2018

Since Western Growers began more than 90 years ago, attorneys specializing in agricultural issues has been part of the association’s landscape. Staff attorneys have long been an integral part of the organization reaching a peak during the 1970s when unionization was a daily concern. Today, Western Growers’ legal staff has a significant presence and gets materially involved in many member issues including labor concerns, regulatory issues and business dealings.

As a cog in the machine of the Leafy Greens Task Force (a coalition of produce companies, trade associations and others committed to understanding the recent outbreaks associated with romaine and developing steps to prevent further occurrence), I wanted to share my perspective on some of the difficult issues that have been focal points of discussion for that group with regard to the recent E.coli outbreak.

Hank Giclas

What began last October with the Harvey Weinstein scandal, has resulted in a tidal wave of sexual harassment and assault accusations on social media under the hashtag #MeToo, and a public reckoning for dozens of high profile men in Hollywood, broadcast journalism, Fortune 500 companies and beyond. The movement has put sexual harassment and gender discrimination in the workplace at center stage, and has sprung another hashtag: #TimesUp.

By Stephanie Metzinger

We constantly hear that the collection of data connecting farm to fork is valuable, and Nathan Dorn believes that when it comes to data, more is better. Dorn jettisoned the regular career for the life of an entrepreneur and created a traceability software company called Food Origins with a colleague, Richard Sowers, in 2015. Now it is a 24-7 passion.

The Affordable Care Act requires non-grandfathered health benefit plans to offer preventive benefits with no cost sharing. While this is an inflexible legal mandate, there are valuable long-term gains when employees use these benefits. These gains include having healthier and more productive employees and catching chronic health conditions in the early stages before they become catastrophic.

David Zanze

By Matt Bigham

The U.S. government’s steel and aluminum tariffs recently went into effect, and in response, some of our trading partners have implemented retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. Specifically, retaliatory tariffs from China, India and Turkey will directly impact the agricultural market and have the potential to put California’s specialty crop industry at a competitive disadvantage.

(Editor’s Note: Dianne Feinstein won the Democratic primary nomination in June and is on the ballot in November attempting to win her sixth term in the U.S. Senate. Born in San Francisco, Sen. Feinstein graduated from Stanford University in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. She was first elected to public office as a member of S.F. Board of Supervisors in 1962 and has served in an elected position ever since.)

 

Cory Lunde

During the late 1960s, the development of the mechanical tomato harvester saved the California processing tomato industry and led to great expansion of production. As others were entering the industry, Lodi tomato farmer John Kautz saw difficulties on the horizon and began diverting his acreage to wine grapes.

Tim Linden

When the lawyer awoke from surgery, he asked, “Why are all the blinds drawn?” The nurse answered, “There’s a fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to think you had died.”

As a recovering attorney myself, I can appreciate a good joke at the expense of my barrister kind. Quite frankly, the reputation lawyers have developed over the years is [in many, not all, cases] valid, especially in a state like California, which consistently ranks among the worst litigation climates in the United States.

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