Congressman Sam Farr visited the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) last Thursday, where he had the opportunity to connect with agtech innovators and collaborate with Western Growers on ideas to further advance the ag industry.
While touring the WGCIT, Farr, who represents California’s Central Coast, learned more about the 13 start-up companies currently working out of the Center and the range of agtech solutions they each offer. He also heard about how the WGCIT directly connects entrepreneurs to Western Growers members, which is crucial for developing tailored products that solve growers’ biggest challenges and making immediate changes on farms with new technology.
Farr shared how he has been fighting for ways to keep agriculture viable in the Central Coast and is excited that WGCIT provides the next level of support to the industry. He stressed how agriculture is one of the largest economic drivers for the region and is thrilled that Western Growers is taking steps to significantly merge ag and tech. In the future, Farr hopes that the process that regulatory agencies require of growers to collect data will be simplified. He noted that a movement to coordinate and streamline the required data would be extremely helpful to both government compliance agencies and the agricultural industry.
A highlight of Farr’s visit was having the opportunity to meet with innovators such as Patrick Zelaya, CEO of HeavyConnect, Inc. Zelaya spoke to Farr about the company’s partnership with local universities to create a pathway from college to career for students with a passion for agriculture, technology and business. Farr enjoyed hearing how HeavyConnect is helping raise the next generation in agtech in the Salinas region by prioritizing software engineering students in the local area when choosing interns. The congressman ended his tour by stating how impressed he was with the WGCIT and is looking forward to seeing this venture grow.