What’s the difference between conventional and organic? How do you handle pests on organic farms? What are you doing to conserve water during the drought?
These are some of the questions posed during a recent field trip to Deardorff Family Farms in Oxnard, CA. Deardorff hosted a group of 10th graders from Bell Gardens High School enrolled in the GREEN (Globally Responsible Environmental Education Network) Pathway program, and their science teacher, Jan Barber-Doyle.
In the summer of 2013, after the California Supreme Court declined to review the Appellate Court decisions in Gonzalez v. Downtown L.A. Motors and Bluford v. Safeway Stores—the two key cases that declared that piece rate employees must be separately paid for non-productive time and break periods—the flood gates have opened. Over the past two years, dozens of California agricultural employers have been sued in employee class action lawsuits seeking ruinous penalties for paying piece rate employees in a manner that everyone understood at the time was perfectly legal.
We have a large farm that operates in Salinas, California, and Yuma, Arizona. We have employees working for us during part of the year in Salinas from May through October and in Yuma from November through April. The Salinas and Yuma operations are different companies, but they are owned by the same small group of individuals. How does this affect our health benefit plan requirements and our IRS reporting requirements? We currently offer a health benefit plan to all full-time employees.
Assemblyman Jim Cooper was elected to the California Assembly in 2014. He serves on the agriculture committee, among others, and was formerly the mayor of Elk Grove while serving as a captain in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
What experiences in life brought you into the political arena?
Over the next month or so, as the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology takes shape on the ground floor of the new Taylor Farms building in Salinas, so will the association’s effort with regard to innovation.
Bob Gray, who will be honored by Western Growers in the fall for his body of work and accomplishments over the 40-year career in agriculture. He is clearly enjoying the current chapter in his life which has him in a teaching role as he helps develop leaders in the agricultural realm in his position as president of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation.
Darci Vetter serves as Chief Agricultural Negotiator with the rank of Ambassador at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. She is responsible for bilateral and multilateral negotiations and policy coordination regarding agricultural trade. Recently she answered several questions from Western Grower & Shipper concerning her career and the current negotiations.
As the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations near their conclusion, producers and exporters of a host of fruits, vegetables and nuts can start eyeing some of those markets—most notably Japan—with renewed vigor.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” Steve Jobs
How will you be farming and running your business 10 years from now? Will you be paperless and using drones and sensors to monitor soil moisture and robots to harvest more of your crops? What will other operations be doing and how will they be doing it? Will technology ensure profitable business and better food by providing us tools to produce more fresh produce at higher qualities using fewer inputs and producing less waste?