July 14, 2016

625 Participants Apprised of Advancements in AgTech during Forbes Summit

The 2016 Forbes AgTech Summit kicked off yesterday in Salinas, Calif., bringing together 625 of the brightest minds in agriculture, technology and innovation.

The two-day affair began yesterday with tours of several groundbreaking facilities, including the Mann Packing and Taylor Farms processing plants and Tanimura & Antle’s Spreckels Crossing employee housing complex. The last stop was a tour of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT), which gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the innovations being developed by the Center’s 20 start-up companies.

Forbes officially launched the Summit yesterday evening with an opening reception and innovation showcase where Wells Fargo awarded WG with a $30,000 grant to create scholarships for entrepreneurs who are looking to advance their innovations as tenants of the WGCIT.

The event continued today as attendees participated in a series of workshops and seminars on topics such as food security, water issues, biological revolutions and agtech investment, among others. WG President & CEO Tom Nassif led a keynote panel discussion on how the dramatic decline of farm labor is pushing agriculture toward more automation. During the panel, Nassif, Sammy Duda, WG board senior vice chair and vice president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, and Harold McClarty, president of HMC Farms, discussed the labor challenges faced by the industry and what type of labor-saving technologies need to be developed to assist with production.

Attendees also heard from other industry experts, including Bruce Taylor, chairman and CEO of Taylor Farms, Kevin Murphy, CEO of Driscoll’s, and representatives of Trace Genomics and HeavyConnect. Both Trace Genomics and HeavyConnect are WGCIT tenants.   

As a strategic partner of the Summit, WG had the honor of presenting the Forbes Impact Award. WG Board Chairman Larry Cox presented Frank Maconachy of Ramsay Highlander with the prestigious honor, lauding Ramsay Highlander for the company’s decades of dedication to mechanizing specialty crop agriculture.

The afternoon wrapped up with a special luncheon at the WGCIT where investors, farmers and agtech startups were brought together to help facilitate potential partnerships.

The Second Annual Forbes AgTech Summit, which will wind down later tonight, is one to be remembered, as it truly highlights how important technology is to the prosperity of agriculture. A full recap of the event will be featured in the August edition of the WG&S Magazine.

 For more information, contact Cory Lunde at (949) 885-2264.