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May 16, 2019

D.C. Board Meeting Wrap-Up

“With the Western Growers Board of Directors coming back to Washington, D.C., for more than a decade now, I am impressed by the depth of relationships that have been developed over the years with longtime representatives, and the level of intimacy that is present in many of our conversations,” remarked Albert Keck, president of Hadley Date Gardens and vice chairman of the Western Growers Board of Directors.

Keck’s observations highlight the significance of Western Growers’ annual board meeting in Washington, D.C., which provides an ongoing opportunity for association leadership to engage with administration personnel, regulatory officials and legislative representatives and advocate on behalf of the Western fresh produce industry.

“Overall, I thought it was a productive trip with positive engagements and great conversations,” stated Ron Ratto, president of Ratto Bros. and chairman of the Western Growers Board of Directors. “We were well-received by everyone we met with, and were routinely complimented on coming to Washington, D.C., to make our collective case.”

Over the past three days, more than two dozen Western Growers Board Members and Future Volunteer Leaders descended on the nation’s capital to generate positive movement in areas of importance to our membership, including international trade, farm bill implementation, immigration reform, food safety and water infrastructure.

In her first visit to Washington, D.C., in the capacity of Board Member, Alexandra Allen of Main Street Produce optimistically noted, “Many of the representatives we met with demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the labor challenges agriculture is facing and expressed a genuine and urgent desire to help facilitate a legislative solution that addresses both the existing workforce and a future flow of guest workers.”

In addition to immigration reform, Western Growers leadership pressed the Administration and Congress on the need to resolve the trade war with China and urged quick passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, as well as other topics ranging from food safety advisories to water infrastructure to automation research and development.

The D.C. Board Meeting concluded Wednesday evening and Thursday morning with face-to-face engagements with:

  • Ambassador Jose Antonio Zabalgoitia Trejo, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Mexico
  • Frank Yiannas, Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Ambassador Gregg Doud, Chief Agricultural Negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative