Western Growers will serve as the “Ag Technology” sponsor for the Organic Grower Summit (OGS), which will hold its inaugural event in December in Monterey. As the Ag Technology sponsor, Western Growers has coordinated the attendance of technology companies as exhibitors, and helped facilitate elements of the technology area of the event.
The first ever OGS, a joint production between California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Organic Produce Network (OPN), will bring together organic growers, producers and processors for two days of education, information and networking opportunities with organic production supply chain and service providers. The event includes a series of educational sessions, keynote presentations, variety of meal functions and a trade show floor.
“Western Growers welcomes the opportunity to participate as the Ag Technology sponsor of the inaugural Organic Grower Summit. Our involvement in this visionary event reaffirms our commitment to driving innovation across all segments of the fresh produce industry,” said Matt McInerney, senior executive vice president for Western Growers. “We look forward to working with the event partners, CCOF and OPN, as we mutually help the organic produce industry amidst challenging regulatory and marketplace demands, both now and into the future.”
Educational session panels at OGS will range in topics including farm soil management, environmentally-sustainable packaging, advances in agricultural technology, and a discussion with elected state and federal officials on key issues facing agriculture. Among confirmed speakers are Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; and Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator at USDA-AMS.
Another highlight of the summit will be an opportunity for growers to meet directly with buyers from Costco, reportedly the largest retailer of organic food sales in the United States. Costco, with annual fresh produce sales of $4 billion, will sponsor a half-day event during the December 13-14 summit. The “Meet the Organic Farmer” session will provides certified organic farmers and grower representatives the opportunity to meet face-to-face with Costco organic produce, dairy, meat and grain buyers to discuss their operations and products.
“Costco is committed to meeting directly with organic farmers, who are truly on the front lines of bringing top quality organic products to market. We appreciate the work OPN has done in putting together this unique opportunity to meet face to face with those responsible for actually growing organic products,” said Heather Shavey, Costco assistant vice president, said. “Our buying team is looking forward to learning more about organic production, hearing about new product innovations and building new supplier opportunities to meet the growing demand for organics for our shoppers.”
Tonya Antle, cofounder of the Organic Produce Network, said “OGS is delighted Costco is coming to show their support of the certified organic farming community. This is a great opportunity to have organic farmers get in front of Costco to tell their story as part of the inaugural OGS.”
Certified organic growers, producers and processors interested in making an appointment to meet with Costco, can register as an attendee at www.organicgrowersummit.com/registration and click on the “Meet with Costco” tab for further information.
Among the inaugural Organic Grower Summit educational session topics that will be covered are: Issues Facing Organic Farmers Today; Organic Disruption—Cannabis: The Next Frontier; Clean and Renewable Technology; Tools for Plant and Soil Health; Essentials of Sustainable Packaging through the Supply Chain; and Leveraging Precision Agriculture. Each of the six sessions will feature leaders from the organic industry, as well as experts in the field of discussion.
“Over the past 25 years, I’ve seen the rapid growth in the demand for organics. We fully support the Organic Grower Summit as this will be an excellent resource for our growers to learn new and important information that they can bring back to our farms,” said Jeff Huckaby, president, Grimmway Farms.
Additionally, OGS is finalizing an educational outreach program for PCA, PRC, and qualified applicators to kick off the event. Attendees are eligible for two hours of approved continuing education credit and will learn about new requirements for pesticide use near schools and worker protection standards.