Chairman Ron Ratto concluded the July Board of Directors Meeting earlier today. Over the past three days, nearly 40 directors met in Newport Beach, Calif., to deliberate on policy issues most critical to the future of Western Growers members, and to provide staff continued guidance on association priorities. Key highlights from the meeting are noted below.
Food Safety/Science & Technology: Committee members reaffirmed the strategic focus and activities of the WG Center for Innovation & Technology, which include food safety, automation and data. The committee also provided feedback on traceability technologies and agtech priorities, and addressed adjacency issues with open field cannabis operations and regulatory demands for nitrate application and removal data.
Legislative: Committee members reviewed and approved positions on a number of California, Arizona and federal bills related to the environment, labor, housing, water, international trade and infrastructure.
International Trade: Committee members were briefed on the latest trade status between the U.S. and China, Japan and India, as well as WG efforts to push for Congressional approval of the USMCA. Other topics discussed included the USDA trade mitigation package, Tomato Suspension Agreement and federal transportation and infrastructure legislation.
Water: Committee members waded into topics related to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, groundwater markets and trading, and Governor Ducey’s Water Augmentation, Innovation and Conservation Council. Committee members also heard analysis on the new smelt and salmon biological opinions being developed by the Department of Interior, and the potential impact on Delta operations.
Labor: Committee members were updated on the Administration’s H-2A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, as well as several pending California bills related to H-2A worker housing, sexual harassment liability and paid sick leave. The committee also discussed a stalled California indoor heat illness standard, Cal/OSHA’s recently issued Wildfire Smoke Emergency Regulation, and efforts in Arizona to curb runaway workers’ compensation rates.
In addition to engaging on the policy issues, the Board of Directors also audited the fiscal health of the association and reviewed the consolidated budget.