June 25, 2024

2024 Salinas Biological Summit Speakers Urge the Agtech Industry to Stay Ahead of Curve on Financial, Pest Pressures

Growers and government leaders urged agtech innovators to balance economic reality, safety and speed in the development of biological solutions during remarks Tuesday at the 2024 Salinas Biological Summit.

In his opening remarks, Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia called biologicals an important potential solution as growers face increasing economic pressure from buyers, retailers and the government. “Biologicals have to be part of the even leveling of the playing field that keeps California farming viable,” he said. “None of this matters if the economics don’t work for the grower.”

California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross discussed the urgency of the development of biologicals in the context of the discovery of Oriental Fruit Flies in California last year. “There was no sleeping for weeks and weeks and weeks trying to discover ‘How did this happen?’” she said. “The way we conquer these things…it’s very important having as many solutions and tools available as possible.”

Dr. Pam Marrone, Founder & Chair of Invasive Species Corporation, urged growers to avoid “bathtub brews” and that the industry must help educate growers about the reputable products on the market.

Woolf Farming & Processing President and CEO and Western Growers Board Chair Stuart Woolf moderated a panel with Julie Henderson, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and CDFA Undersecretary Christine Birdsong, who all agreed on the importance of education and collaboration.

“Something we always have to keep an eye on is what’s on the horizon,” Birdsong said. “This [includes] making sure that farmers know that these tools and practices are there – and they know how to use them in their operations.”

The 2024 Salinas Biological Summit, produced by Western Growers and Wharf42, was held June 25-26 at CSU Monterey Bay’s Salinas City Center. For more information, please visit salinas-summit.com