September/October 2021

By Dave Puglia, Western Growers President/CEO

I recently wrote of the rhetorical shift in California water policy from “water supply reliability” to “water resiliency.” With more than 88 percent of the state in extreme or exceptional drought and many of our reservoirs hitting historic lows just two years after being completely full, we see what that really means.

By Stephanie Metzinger

In an industry that has historically embodied family values, couple-owned enterprises bring a unique, homegrown aspect to agriculture.

Family-owned businesses currently account for 64 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, with husband-wife teams running an estimated 1.2 million companies. These dynamic duos have led organizations and companies that have triumphed over challenges time and time again largely due to their founders’ iron-clad bonds and strong family commitment.

By Ann Donahue

Years ago, Carol Chandler found herself at a turning point.

She was a “farm wife”—in her own words—a mother who put her career as a teacher on hold to dedicate her time to her family. But as she lived day in and day out with her husband, Bill, and her sons, Tom and John, on Chandler Farms, their fourth-generation operation in Selma, California, she had an important realization.

By Stephanie Metzinger

Agriculture has a shortage of labor to perform key functions such as harvesting, weeding and thinning. This decades-long labor shortage is exacerbated by the lack of immigration reform and an aging workforce. As a result, there is a critical need for leading-edge innovation from startups, established agtech equipment makers and solution providers.

Stephanie Metzinger

California State Senator John Laird representing District 17, which includes Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo Counties, as well as Portions of Monterey and Santa Clara Counties

John Laird, who was elected to the California State Senate on November 3, 2020, has had a lifetime of public service that began more than 40 years ago as a Santa Cruz City Councilmember as he was entering his 30s.

Tim Linden

By Matthew Allen, Vice President, State Government Affairs

There is simply no industry that brings a value like agriculture to the daily lives of human beings. Farmworkers and growers work together to plant, harvest and distribute an unbelievable variety of sustenance for our state, nation and world. We go to the grocery store, shop online and open our refrigerators, largely taking for granted that what we want to eat will be there.

By Tim Linden

There is no question that 2020 was a year like no other and that also permeated the legal work associated with the business of agriculture.

“Last year was all about COVID,” said Jason Resnick, Senior Vice President & General Counsel for Western Growers. “We are not yet living in a post-COVID world, but there is a sense of certainty about the rules and regulations covering the pandemic.”

Participants in this referral service agree to give Western Growers members a 15 percent discount off of their normal legal services rates.* The WG member law firms listed below specialize in a wide array of legal issues to fit virtually any need a member may have, from business contracts to labor issues to food safety liability. WG law firm members who advertise in this issue have earned bold face designation and a descriptive phrase explaining their scope of practice.

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

How much are chronic conditions costing employers in lost productivity and medical expenses each year? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s an estimated $36.4 billion. For employers looking to become proactive in dealing with the impact of chronic diseases on their workforce, there is light at the end of the tunnel. More employers are choosing to adopt care management programs designed to not only improve the health of their unique employee populations, but also save on medical costs.

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

By Ken Cooper, Director of Risk Strategy, Western Growers Insurance Services

In late July, the California Commissioner of Insurance once again approved a decrease in the workers’ compensation pure premium advisory rates, which are used by insurance carriers to set their rates for coverage. As a result, policyholders are likely to see a decrease in their workers’ compensation premium rates for the seventh year in a row. In fact, the approved rate reduction effective September 1, 2021, is the eleventh overall rate reduction since January 2015.

By Marlene Hanken, Data Analyst

Welcome to the Data Corner, a place where this resident data nerd addresses some of the most common data issues and data-related topics facing the agriculture industry today.

By Teresa McQueen, Corporate Counsel, Legal

October of 1991 was the first time many people ever thought about sexual harassment. Millions watched as Anita Hill stood before an all-male U.S. Senate committee, recalling sexually charged incidents that occurred at the hands of her former supervisor, then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

The Western Growers Family of Companies is built on the strength of 445 dedicated employees providing expert advocacy and services across multiple business lines. To honor its employees who demonstrate “above and beyond” service, Western Growers recently launched an Employees’ Choice Award Program where employees select and honor fellow team members for their exemplary work and remarkable outward mindset. Meet the latest Employees’ Choice recipients, Andrew Pham and Mary Wahidy.

Stephanie Metzinger

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