Date: May 12, 2010

IRVINE (May 12, 2010) - Western Growers Board of Directors (BOD) are in Washington, D.C., this week meeting with representatives from President Barack Obama’s Administration, members of Congress and officials from other agricultural trade associations about the issues that directly affect the nation’s specialty crop growers, packers and shippers.

Led by Chairman Robby Barkley, of Barkley Ag Enterprises, Inc, and President and CEO Tom Nassif, Western Growers’ contingent has already met with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk; Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) [staff], John McCain (R-AZ) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Representatives Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); and American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. They have discussed everything from California’s continuing water supply availability crisis; to immigration reform, and more specifically AgJOBS; to food safety.

“Fewer and fewer Congressional representatives come from rural America and fewer still from farming,” said Nassif. “We need to consistently remind our legislators and members of the Administration about the value agriculture brings to this country, and discuss the issues of utmost concern to specialty crop producers. Issues like immigration reform, water supply, trade, food safety and the effect of healthcare reform on our businesses. We must make this a continuing practice if we are to remain a viable and valued sector of the economy and be able to provide a secure domestic supply of food for the nation.”

Before the week is concluded, Western Growers’ leadership is scheduled to meet with Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and John Thune (R-SD); Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA), Wally Herger (R-CA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ); and others.

Since opening the Washington, D.C., office in 2007, Western Growers Directors have met annually each spring in the nation’s capital. Visits with government officials are followed by an official BOD meeting, which this year is scheduled for Thursday, May 13. Some of the issues slated to be raised at this meeting include, farm policy/2012 farm bill, AgJOBS and energy/climate change. Anne MacMillan, from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) staff is scheduled to address Western Growers’ BOD during the meeting.

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose members from Arizona and California grow, pack and ship ninety percent of the fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in California and seventy five percent of those commodities in Arizona. This totals about half of the nation’s fresh produce.

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