We can’t hold our cards too close to our vest anymore: You are invited to join the full house for the Western Growers Annual Meeting, which will be held at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas from Nov. 2-5, 2022.
(Fine, fine. We’ll stop with Vegas puns now.)
This will be the 96th WG Annual Meeting, and like every year before it, it provides an opportunity for our membership to gather for camaraderie and learning at the premiere event in Western agriculture. In 2022 the lineup of speakers, panels and social events is top-notch.
The event opens on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022, with all-day registration at The Venetian and a Welcome Reception that will start at 5:30 p.m. On Nov. 3, the Board of Directors will meet in the morning, and the PAC Lunch will begin at noon. The Western Growers Political Action Committee (PAC) provides strategic campaign support to elected officials and candidates. Proceeds from our annual PAC lunch help amplify our members’ voices in political contests across Arizona, California and elsewhere. Tickets to the PAC Lunch are $195 and available to purchase during online registration.
This year’s speaker is Karl Rove, the former Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush. Before the White House, he ran Rove + Co., a Texas-based public affairs firm that consulted on more than 75 GOP campaigns for Senator, Governor, Congress and statewide offices in 24 states. Rove writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, appears frequently on the Fox News Channel and is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Courage and Consequence.” His latest book is “The Triumph of William McKinley.”
In the afternoon of Thursday Nov. 3, the Annual Meeting will offer its first Featured Session: “When Family Farms Give Way to Outsiders.” This session will focus on the increasing number of family farmers who have decided to accept an offer from private equity investors. What factors are motivating multigenerational family farmers to seek the exits? What does the increasing presence of private equity newcomers mean for the culture and fabric of the Western produce industry and thousands of rural communities?
At 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, we’ll host the much-anticipated Party with the Partners—it’s always a rollicking good time, and for this year it will feature some special Vegas flair! “A Toast to the Rat Pack & Marilyn” takes the audience on a musical journey through the greatest hits of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Marilyn Monroe. These legends will be brought to life by the performers as they sing their classics, including: “I Want to be Loved by You,” “Come Fly With Me,” “That’s Amore” and “The Candy Man.” You’ll experience the glitz and glamour of 1960s Las Vegas in this fun, energetic showcase of Rat Pack standards.
The next day kicks off with AgSharks®, one of the highlights of the Annual Meeting. Starting at 9:30 a.m., watch as three entrepreneurial finalists in the agtech sector vie for investment to help bring their technologies to market. During this year’s competition, three finalists will be able to pitch their innovations in front of a live audience of the world’s largest specialty crop growers, shippers and processors to potentially win a $250,000 minimum investment. A judging panel of growers and venture capitalists from WG partner S2G Ventures will make the final decision as to which of the finalists are eligible to receive the funding.
The Chair’s Luncheon and Keynote will take place on Friday, Nov. 4. The keynote will be delivered by Admiral William McRaven, a retired U.S. Navy Four-Star Admiral. He is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and other leaders on defense issues.
During his time in the military, McRaven commanded special operations forces at every level, eventually taking charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command. His career included combat during Desert Storm and both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He commanded the troops that captured Saddam Hussein and rescued Captain Richard Phillips. McRaven also is credited with developing the plan and leading the Osama bin Laden mission in 2011.
In addition, McRaven served as the Chancellor of the University of Texas System. McRaven oversaw 14 institutions that educated 220,000 students and employed 20,000 faculty and more than 80,000 health care professionals, researchers and staff.
He currently serves on the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the National Football Foundation and the Board of Directors of CoconoPhilips.
McRaven is the author of four books, including “SPEC OPS: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare” and “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World,” based on his 2014 University of Texas Commencement Speech that received worldwide attention. His third book,
“Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations,” released in 2019, is a remarkable memoir full of inspiring and action-packed stories from McRaven’s life in the special operations world. His most recent book, “The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived,” released in April 2021, is a tribute to the real, everyday heroes from battlefields to hospitals to college campuses, who are doing their part to save the world.
McRaven graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1977 with a degree in journalism and received his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey in 1991. He met his wife, Georgeann, while they were students at UT Austin, and they have three grown children.
After the keynote, the Annual Meeting will offer another Featured Session: “The Promises and Challenges of New Breeding Technologies.” This session will feature experts from the plant genetics industry, growers and retail/food service executives to assess the viability—economic, regulatory, and consumer/social—of cutting-edge breeding techniques. These technologies present opportunities in terms of enhanced flavors and eating experiences, as well as a potential solution to multiple challenges facing the produce industry, from pest and disease vulnerabilities to the need to enable automation and more.
The events of Nov. 4 will close with the Award of Honor Reception and Dinner honoring John C. Harris, the President and Chair of the Board, Harris Farms. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of achievement and is given to individuals who have contributed extensively to the agricultural community.
With more than 50 years’ experience in ranching, farming, hospitality and thoroughbred horse racing, Harris embodies the diversity of California agribusiness. The Harris Farms Group includes Harris Fresh and the Harris Farms Thoroughbred Division, in addition to the landmark property known to all Californians on the I-5.
The Award of Honor will join numerous other significant awards Harris has received; in 1988 he was named Livestock Man of the Year by his peers in the ranching industry, and in 2014 he received the Agriculturalist of the Year award from the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the California State University at Fresno in 2019.
The Annual Meeting will close on Saturday, Nov. 5, with the traditional Western Growers Golf Tournament. This year’s event will take place at the Revere Golf Course, with registration and breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. There will be a Shotgun Start at 8 a.m., and the event will wrap up with awards and lunch at 12:30 p.m. Transportation to and from The Venetian will be provided.
Cash in your chips and join us today by registering at wgannualmeeting.com. (We had to get one more Las Vegas pun in here, sorry!) For more information about registration or to take advantage of sponsorship opportunities, please contact Assistant Vice President, Membership Kim Sherman at [email protected].