WESTERN GROWER SHIPPER MAY/ JUNE 2018
WATER YEAR 2017/18 Solid Spring Helps with Disappointing Winter
Redefining Rural America, One Woman at a Time BIOLOGICALS Effective, Sustainable, and Offer a Strong ROI
Safe Drinking Water Bill Moving Toward Finish Line WATER TECH UPDATES SWIIM’s 2.0 in Beta Testing Pago: The Ag Labor Platform WGCIT SPONSOR City of Salinas Offered Impetus for AgTech Movement Avoiding Problems with Employee Leave of Absences
WESTERN GROWER SHIPPER MAY/JUNE 2018 WGA.COM
6 Redefining Rural America, One Woman at a Time 10 BIOLOGICALS Effective, Sustainable, and Offer a Strong ROI 12 Safe Drinking Water Bill Moving Toward Finish Line 14 Water Tech Updates 16 WATER YEAR 2017/18 Solid Spring Helps with Disappointing Winter 20 Pago: The Ag Labor Platform 22 WGCIT SPONSOR City of Salinas Offered Impetus for AgTech Movement 28 Avoiding Problems with Employee Leave of Absences
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Volume LXXXIX Number 3
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Western Grower & Shipper ISSN 0043-3799, Copyright © 2018 by the Western Grower & Shipper is published bi-monthly by Western Grower & Shipper Publishing Company, a division of Western Growers Service Corp., 15525 Sand Canyon Avenue, Irvine California 92618. Business and Editorial Offices: 15525 Sand Canyon Avenue, Irvine California 92618.Accounting and Circulation Offices:Western Grower & Shipper, 15525 Sand Canyon Avenue, Irvine California 92618. Call (949) 863-1000 to subscribe. Subscription is $18 per year. Foreign subscription is $36 per year. Single copies of recent issues, $1.50. Single copies of issues more than three months old, $2. Single copies ofYearbook issue $4. Periodicals postage is paid in Irvine, California and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Western Grower & Shipper , PO Box 2130, Newport Beach, California 92658.
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TOM NASSIF | PRESIDENT AND CEO, WESTERN GROWERS PRESIDENT’S NOTES
ICE Raids on Farmworkers Are Untenable “California fruit will die on the vine after ICE raids.” “Immigration raids scare California farmers, not just their workers.” “Farm leaders say California’s sanctuary status makes them a target for ICE raids.”
These are just a few of the headlines that have splashed across regional and national news outlets in recent months. They remind us of the years of inaction by our lawmakers, despite overwhelming voter support for immigration reform for agriculture. We have made our case. Americans will not do the hard labor required to pick our fruits and vegetables. To anyone who disputes this, I simply ask of them: “Are you or anyone you know raising your kids to be farmworkers?” The inevitable conclusion is that foreign hands will harvest our food. This light bulb moment leads to a logical next question: “Do we want our food harvested by foreign hands here in our own country, in fields under our direct control, or on distant farms unregulated by the food safety and labor regimes that govern our farmers, and subject to the whims of foreign governments that may not always have our best interests at heart?” For those of us old enough to remember the Arab oil embargo in 1973—a crisis that prompted President Nixon to promise energy independence to the American people “within 10 years,” —we understand the consequences of ceding jurisdiction of our vital needs to others abroad. While it took a bit longer than 10 years, the United States has relentlessly pursued—and has now essentially achieved—energy independence. Why, as a matter of public policy, are we not similarly focused on maintaining American food independence? American agricultural production is being siphoned off to other countries at an alarming rate, as evidenced by the growing balance of trade deficit in fruits and vegetables, which now stands at many billions of dollars a year. For this reason, news of the recent round of ICE raids in California’s Central Valley is incredibly concerning. To be clear, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was active [perhaps even more active] during the Obama administration, but the recent crackdown on undocumented agricultural workers under the Trump administration is jarring given the overwhelming support he has enjoyed from rural communities across the country. While we fully support the administration’s effort to
dislodge criminal aliens from our country, our farmworkers are, almost without exception, not felons. In fact, the agricultural workforce is almost uniformly stable with historic presence where they live, generating economic activity in their regions and giving back to their neighborhoods and communities. The ill-conceived concept of rooting out these men and women and sending them to their home countries is destructive on many fronts. Furthermore, stripping farm businesses of our essential labor force is tantamount to an act of financial sabotage, with these ICE raids making the U.S. government a complicit agent in the crippling of its own citizens’ livelihoods. Compounding an already acute labor crisis, these ICE raids run counter to President Trump’s drive to bring jobs back to America. Our industry is not unwilling to find solutions. We are not deaf to public misgivings and anger regarding illegal immigration or workers who have lived in America without citizenship. We join in agreeing that we can work to find answers and are determined to be positive partners in that process. We can accept ICE raids, E-verify and other interior enforcement (and border security) measures. But first, we need workable solutions to our chronic labor shortages. Undeniably, the answer begins and ends with Congressional action, a candle of hope that has dimmed since the introduction of the Goodlatte bill. Absent a workable legislative fix for the agricultural labor force, the Trump administration must strive to minimize the impact of its immigration policies on our industry. To achieve this objective, the agriculture community must leverage the collective influence it has with this President. I have spoken with Congressional leaders and fellow members of the President’s Ag Advisory group about the need for this administration to publicly assure farmers that the ICE raids are not going to target agriculture. Workers who are in fear of a raid are not showing up at their place of employment exacerbating the devastating labor shortage that already exists. Concerted action by agriculture is very important in order to achieve these objectives.
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Redefining Rural America, One Woman at a Time
By Stephanie Metzinger I t’s the iconic depiction of agriculture—a farmer driving his tractor at sunrise, walking the fields to check on his budding crops and brushing the dirt off his freshly picked produce. Though this scene is thought to be the most common portrayal of farm life, something significant is missing: the women. Women make up a third of the nation’s farmers, generating nearly $12.9 billion in agricultural sales on a yearly basis. These 970,000 female farmers are the thought leaders behind innovative concepts that bring more fresh produce into the homes of Americans. They are the full-time owners and operators, family
experience in running a business, Filice decided to carry on Chuck’s vision and led the operation with the support and guidance of several dedicated employees. She quickly embraced new technologies being developed to improve farm operations and has since been a leader in implementing innovation in the field. Filice Farms was among the first to use tractors that were guided by GPS technology on its fields. These tractors allowed drivers to do a more efficient job of plowing the field, and in turn, saved the operation a significant amount on fuel and labor.
matriarchs, community volunteers and agriculture advocates that are paving the way for a more nutritious future. Take for example, Kay Filice, president and owner of Filice Farms in Hollister, Calif. Filice broke away from her rural roots when she decided to move from Iowa to San Francisco in the ‘70s to pursue a career in sales and marketing. When she met her husband, Chuck, shortly after, she found herself back in a rural setting and on the farm. Chuck—a second generation vegetable farmer in Central California—managed the day-to-day operations of their family farm while she raised their boys and managed the summer apricot production and processing. When Chuck passed away in 1998, she was faced with a life-changing decision: sell the farm and start a new life with her three sons or continue the business her husband and his parents had passionately developed. Though she had little to no
Kay Filice, Filice Farms
6 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
into large shoes, Becerra has spent the last 14 months learning the mushroom business and managing the day-to-day operations as the managing partner of Global Mushrooms. Becerra has adopted her father’s motto for the farm of “Quality First.” Her understanding of this motto was not to just grow the highest quality mushrooms, but also to ensure the highest quality programs within the company. These programs include employee benefits, employee safety, food safety and maintaining a state-of the art growing facility. When first taking over, Becerra reviewed the company’s benefits and noticed that employees were not utilizing their health benefits. After meeting with the employees, she learned that they did not fully understand the coverage or they could not find service providers in their areas. She immediately reached out to Western Growers Insurance Services to develop new benefits program and implemented an employee benefits education program. The new program combined affordability, accessibility and education to support her employees. “In this short time, participation in the health plan has grown to 88 percent, the employees understand their benefits and now have access to health service providers in their areas,” said Becerra. “We are incredibly proud of the quality of our employee programs that we have created at Global Mushrooms and are delighted with the positive feedback we receive from our employees.” In addition to leading revolutionary changes within their companies and making history today, female farmers are also growing ag for tomorrow. Carol Chandler, partner at Chandler Farms, and Catherine Fanucchi, partner at Tri-Fanucchi Farms, are two of the three women who sit on WG’s Board of Directors.
Christi Becerra, Global Mushrooms
“Today, new technology for on-farm use is being developed at an astonishing rate, and in many ways, changing the way we farm,” said Filice. “Aerial imaging is just one of many such technologies Filice Farms utilizes to detect problems in early stages, allowing us to make important cost effective decisions.” Today, Filice Farms rotates a dozen different crops on San Benito County ranches from Hollister to San Juan Bautista and has cemented its reputation as one of the most forward-thinking ag operations in the region. “Agriculture is an exciting business, each day presenting new opportunities and new challenges. If you’re not constantly planning and looking toward future opportunities for your farm and your employees, you’re going to be left behind,” said Filice. Filice’s story of taking over a family business and transforming it into an agricultural powerhouse is one that is starting to echo throughout the industry. When Christi Becerra’s father passed away in 2017, she made the decision to leave her career in IT and join one of her family’s businesses to insure that her father’s legacy would continue. Stepping
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Lorri Koster, Mann Packing-Del Monte
Catherine Fanucchi , Tri-Fanucchi Farms
As leadership of WG, Chandler and Fanucchi play a significant role in advocating for the hard-working farmers and farmworkers who provide over half the nation’s fresh produce and making legislators aware of the value the ag industry brings to the community. “We have been incredibly involved in ag advocacy in Washington and Sacramento with Western Growers members,” said Chandler. “It is vitally important to tell our stories to elected and appointed officials who legislate and regulate our farming operations.” Chandler is also an advocate for ag within higher education. She served on both the California State University Board of Trustees and the University of California Board of Regents to help develop education policy and ensure that students have a pathway to a higher education. In her roles, she consulted on system-wide initiatives that were geared toward shaping students into knowledgeable, highly- skilled professionals that would thrive in industries such as agriculture. “There is a strong synergy between agriculture and higher education as we look for innovators to help us farm smarter and more efficiently,” said Chandler. Rounding out the female leadership on WG’s Board of Directors is Lorri Koster, former chairman and CEO at Mann Packing—a women owned and operated company that was recently acquired by Del Monte Fresh Produce—and currently a
consultant for Del Monte. Koster and her sister, Gina Nucci, brought new meaning to the term “value added.” They created numerous lines of Mann Packing products, such as their Sugar Snap Peas, Broccolini®, Single-Cut Full-Leaf Lettuce, Cauliflower “Fried Rice” Blend, Better Burger Leaf and Nourish Bowls (a ready-to-eat warm meal that is comprised of super foods), which allow consumers to spend more time with their families at the dinner table, rather than prepping and cooking in the kitchen. “Mann Packing’s mission statement says it all—Fresh Veggies Made Easy,” said Koster.
Breaking into a male-dominated field such as agriculture is not easy, but farmHers throughout the nation are making strides and leading the way for all women. In honor of Women’s History Month in March, Western Growers featured stories throughout its social media channels of female farmers who are defying the odds and succeeding as a women in agriculture. To read more about the women who are redefining the typical depiction of rural America, visit facebook. com/westerngrowers or instagram.com/ western_growers.
Bill and Carol Chandler, Chandler Farms
8 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
WTL-Ad-Western-Growers.pdf 1 3/5/18 11:47 AM
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WESTERN GROWERS OFFICERS – 2018
CRAIG A. READE, Chairman RONALD RATTO, Senior Vice Chair RYAN TALLEY, Vice Chair STEPHEN F. DANNA, Treasurer CAROL CHANDLER, Executive Secretary THOMAS A. NASSIF, President DIRECTORS – 2018 GEORGE J. ADAM Innovative Produce, Santa Maria, California JOSEPH E. AIELLO Uesugi Farms, Inc., Gilroy, California KEVIN S. ANDREW Vanguard International, Bakersfield, California MIKE ANTLE Tanimura and Antle, Salinas, California ROBERT K. BARKLEY Barkley Ag Enterprises LLP,Yuma, Arizona STEPHEN J. BARNARD Mission Produce, Inc., Oxnard, California BRIAN BERTELSEN Cove Ranch Management, Reedley, California GEORGE BOSKOVICH III Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, California DON CAMERON Terranova Ranch, Helm, California EDWIN A. CAMP D. M. Camp & Sons, Bakersfield, California CAROL CHANDLER Chandler Farms LP, Selma, California LAWRENCEW. COX Coastline Family Farms, Salinas, California STEPHEN F. DANNA Danna Farms, Inc.,Yuba City, California JOHN C. D’ARRIGO D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, Salinas, California THOMAS DEARDORFF II Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, California SAMUEL D. DUDA Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc., Salinas, California CATHERINE A. FANUCCHI Tri-Fanucchi Farms Inc., Bakersfield, California DAVID L. GILL Rio Farms, King City, California A. G. KAWAMURA Orange County Produce, LLC, Irvine, California ALBERT KECK Hadley Date Gardens,Thermal, California LORRI KOSTER Mann Packing Company, Inc., Salinas, California FRED P. LOBUE, JR. LoBue Bros., Inc., Lindsay, California FRANK MACONACHY Ramsay Highlander, Inc., Gonzales, California JOHN S. MANFRE Frank Capurro and Son, Moss Landing, California STEPHEN MARTORI III Martori Farms, Scottsdale, Arizona HAROLD MCCLARTY HMC Farms, Kingsburg, California JOHN MCPIKE California Giant, Inc., Santa Maria, California TOMMULHOLLAND Mulholland Citrus, Orange Cove, California KEVIN MURPHY Driscoll’s Inc.,Watsonville, California MARK NICKERSON PrimeTime International, Coachella, California THOMAS M. NUNES The Nunes Company, Inc., Salinas, California KEVIN E. PASCOE Grimmway Enterprises Inc., Bakersfield, California GARY J. PASQUINELLI Pasquinelli Produce Company,Yuma, Arizona STEPHEN F. PATRICIO Westside Produce, Firebaugh, California RONALD A. RATTO Ratto Bros. Inc., Modesto, California CRAIG A. READE Bonipak Produce, Inc., Santa Maria, California JOSEPH A. RODRIGUEZ The Growers Company, Inc., Somerton, Arizona WILL ROUSSEAU Rousseau Farming Company,Tolleson, Arizona VICTOR SMITH JV Smith Companies,Yuma, Arizona RYANTALLEY Talley Farms, Arroyo Grande, California BRUCE C.TAYLOR Taylor Farms California, Salinas, California JACKVESSEY Vessey and Company Inc., Holtville, California STUARTWOOLF Woolf Farming & Processing, Fresno, California ROBYRACEBURU Wonderful Orchards, Shafter, California
By Tim Linden P am Marrone, a pioneer and leader in the bio-pesticide world, looks forward to the day when the majority of growers use biologicals because of their efficacies, not just because they offer other advantages. She freely admits that biologicals are most often used today to stay below maximum residue levels (MRLs) and allow workers back into the fields more quickly. “Surveys tells us those are the top two motivators,” she said. And they are two very good reasons. Chemicals typically have label specifications preventing application a set number of days before harvest, so often a grower will switch to a biological to maintain pest control during that time period. Biologicals can also be applied in the morning and the workforce can return to the field in the afternoon so often they are used for that purpose. But Dr. Marrone, who is founder and CEO of
Marrone Bio Innovations (and previously founded AgraQuest), said the many new biologicals on the marketplace are also efficacious. “They offer an ROI. I look forward to the day when the average grower will use a biological to improve crop yields, quality and the nutritional content of their fruit.” She has spent her career developing biologicals and she knows they work and that they are equal to or better than the chemical alternatives that they are sold against. Marrone knows most growers don’t believe that and she believes it is a perception and an education problem, not an issue with the products themselves. She notes that most growers are not even sure what a biological is. One recent
10 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
survey in the almond industry revealed that 83 percent of growers couldn’t define it. A biopesticide basically controls pests and disease through non-toxic measures such as disrupting the lifecycle of a pest. For example, the firm sells Venerate, which immediately—in less than one minute according to Marrone—stops the feeding of insects such as the Peach Twig Borer. Damage to the crop immediately stops and the bugs die off within a week. This, Marrone said, is a great example of the perception problem facing the biologicals industry. Often researchers, at the land grant universities she said, will conduct a biological vs. chemical trial and use an unfair test to judge efficacy. In this example, a researcher might set up the test to determine how many of the pests are still alive 48 hours after application. The chemical could be judged as more efficient because a greater number of pests are dead. Marrone said this is a lack of understanding of the mode of action involved in the biological. In both instances, damage to the crop has been halted. A week later, the trees treated with the biological might show far fewer pests, but that was never measured. She also complains that biologicals are often trialed as a stand-alone crop protection tool against a cocktail of chemicals. Marrone said organic growers do use biologicals as a stand-alone or in concert with other products registered for use on organic crops. But, she said 80 percent of biologicals are used by conventional growers as part of a rotation or in the tank mix with chemicals. When being trialed, Bio Innovations uses these very common practices to test their products and she believes these type of real-solution trials should also be utilized by independent researchers when gauging their efficacy. Another very important factor with biologicals, according to Marrone, is that their potential use expands and evolves once they are registered and being used by growers. She explained that a chemical typically takes about $300 million and a dozen years of testing to pass regulatory muster and reach the marketplace. Their toxicity requires that level of testing. As such, once these chemicals come into the market, the labels are complete and the researchers know everything there is to know about them. They have probably gone through thousands of trials on every conceivable crop and each of those crops is
listed on the label. To register a biological, it costs about $10 million and they usually hit the market within five years. These products do go through rigorous testing by government officials so their safety is assured, but their number of uses are not always known. They might have only had 250 trials on handful of crops. Marrone said typically about 10 crops appear on the label but as early adopters test the product, more crops are added and the use instructions are further refined, and improved. Marrone said this is a different business model and one that growers aren’t necessarily used to, but at the end of the day it produces what they are looking for: more crop protection tools in their arsenal. She noted that for specialty crops there are virtually no new chemical crop protection tools being introduced. The big companies are concentrating on the large program crops. The biological side is a different story. She estimated that 20 new biologicals were introduced in the past year. Marrone clearly believes biologicals are the future for the specialty crop
industry. She added that Bio Innovations is starting to focus some of its attention on bioherbicides. “I believe it has been 25 years since a new chemical herbicide has been introduced.” Besides offering a superior ROI for growers in her estimation, the other factor in what she believes will be continued growth of the biopesticide industry is demand by consumers and the supermarket buyers who deal with the growers. They are demanding increased sustainability, which means more environmentally-friendly crop protection tools and fewer residues on the fruits and vegetables in the marketplate. Marrone said the crop protection industry is seeing total sales decline, while biologicals are growing at a 15-20 percent annual clip and achieving greater market share. Currently, the biological industry represents about seven percent marketshare of crop protection tool sales. Marrone said younger growers and younger researchers—and she could have added younger consumers—are fueling the growth of the biological industry.
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Safe Drinking Water Bill Moving Toward Finish Line
By Tim Linden A unique coalition of agricultural and environmental groups are close to realizing their goal of passing Senate Bill 623, which will create a “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund” and shield growers from enforcement activities concerning nitrate contamination. “We need everyone’s help right now,” said Gail Delihant, director of California government affairs for Western Growers, in late April. “We need a grass roots effort by our members in contacting their state legislators and urge them to pass this bill,” which is a budget trailer bill (BTB) that will probably come up for a vote in late June. Emily Rooney, president of Agricultural Council of California, was equally steadfast in the need for rural legislators to step forward and support this bill. But, she was also extremely confident that success is at hand. “It will pass,” she predicted. The bill was introduced by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) more than a year ago, with a goal of funding projects to assist disadvantaged communities that lack access to safe drinking water. The concept itself is not controversial. Delihant said there are many different contaminants from many different sources that impact California’s water supply. While nitrates from agriculture play a big role, so do many other compounds from other sources, including nature. Smaller, poorer water districts, mostly in rural California, that don’t have the rate payer base to fund the construction of huge water treatment facilities suffer disproportionately. Delihant said it is a statewide problem that needs a statewide solution. She called it a “social problem.” Monning began building support for his bill last year, working with both environmentalists and grower groups to fashion a bill that could gain broad support. Environmentalists supported the fund concept and wanted agriculture to be materially involved in the funding of it. Agricultural groups needed the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement to cease its
threatening enforcement actions against growers for causing nitrate contamination of drinking water wells. Those enforcement actions have been ongoing. After months of negotiations, Delihant said the two sides reached agreement on those two main tenants of the bill. “In short, SB 623/BTB changes the California Water Code in a manner that keeps the State Board and Regional Board from bringing such nitrate enforcement actions for 10 years, and from bringing clean up and abatement actions for an additional five years,” she said. At this writing, the money for the fund will come from several sources. A fee, or tax if you prefer, will be attached to every dollar of fertilizer sold in the state. For homeowners it will work out to six cents per $100 at their local home improvement store. For growers, the calculations will produce a $6 fee for every $1000 purchase of any fertilizer product. Dairies and non-dairy livestock facilities will also be paying into the fund. Further, a charge of 95 cents per month will be levied on every household throughout the state, with the exception of poor households that qualify for an exemption. Large industrial users will be charged $10 per month. Those funding sources combined are expected to generate $140 million annually. It is the fee/tax collected via the water agencies that has been the cause of most of the opposition. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), some city governments and anti-tax Republicans have come out against the bill. Delihant said discussions with rural Republicans are turning the tide and garnering support. It should also be noted that a significant number of ACWA members—especially those water agencies in rural areas—have supported SB 623. That group includes: Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Belridge WSD, Berrenda Mesa Water District (WD), Kaweah Basin Water Conservation District, Kern Delta WD, Lost Hills WD, Semitropic WSD, Sultana Community Services District and
Wheeler-Ridge Maricopa WSD. Rooney said politics often create “strange bedfellows” but never more than in this fight. She noted that her board of directors specifically wanted a broad funding mechanism that included industrial and residential participation. “That was 180 degrees different than ACWA’s position,” she said, adding that ACWA and the Ag Council are typically aligned on water issues. In this instance, ACWA, and many of the opponents, want the money to come from California’s General Fund. Rooney said the ag coalition was opposed to that funding source because of its unreliability. In poor economic times, the General Fund is often strapped “and that funding could dry up quickly,” she said. Another anomaly is that the fund will largely tax urban users to build rural projects. Yet the urban legislators, mostly Democrats, are behind the effort while the rural legislators, largely Republican, are against the effort. “Over the next several weeks, we are going to be out there telling the story of who this is going to help,” said Delihant. She believes as it become clear that it is the constituents of the rural legislators who will receive the greatest benefits, minds will change. Rooney agreed, noting that discussions recently have revealed a lot of open minds willing to listen to the arguments by agriculture. In Governor Brown’s proposed 2018- 2019 budget, the summary document included language indicating the administration will be advancing the framework of SB 623. The California Department of Finance posted the budget trailer bill language February 1st with the SB 623 language essentially intact. However, Delihant said negotiations are always ongoing on such bills and Western Growers and its agricultural partners on this effort will be diligent in making sure no critical changes are made to the bill.
12 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
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Water Tech Updates
SWIIM’s 2.0 in Beta Testing W ith thousands of acres using its irrigation management software, SWIIM has its 2.0 version in beta testing and is in line for another round of funding to continue developing its cutting-edge water use tracking technology and add staff and offices. Kevin France, founder and CEO of SWIIM (Sustainable Water and Innovative Irrigation Management), which is a member of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, said about 100 growers representing approximately 100,000 acres of cropland are using the program. In a nutshell, the company offers a suite of software packages and services that enable growers and others to plan, manage and track their crop-water budget. SWIIM’s value proposition centers around the theory that information is power. A grower armed with accurate and up-to- date information about his water allocation, deliveries and crop usage can better manage that all-important resource. SWIIM offers a turnkey program complete with physical equipment and computer software. France said for many years water delivery and usage was achieved on a “close enough” system. If water is cheap, deliveries from your irrigation district and usage by your crops that were within 10-15 percent of what you contracted was close enough. Increasing costs and scarcity of that resource has changed that dynamic . With SWIIM’s technology, water use is tracked on the farm, inputted into the system and the data is sent to individual growers and the respective district in the aggregate for monitoring and reporting. France said some people call it “QuickBooks for water accounting” and he agrees with that description. “You have all your data in one place,” which he adds, allows for informed decision making. Just as one’s bank account can be balanced to the penny, he said the same accuracy is available for one’s water account through SWIIM. France said with version 2.0, SWIIM is improving the transparency and delivery of the information to its customers. The
new version, he said, can interface with mobile devices and tablets allowing growers to have this information presented in a clearer format while they are in the field looking at the crops . As time goes by, France believes his system’s to-the-drop accuracy, can be utilized to create a market for transferring water between customers or back to the water district, but he added that is a byproduct of the technology not its main purpose. He reiterated that the purpose is to enable growers to get much more accurate usage information on this all-important resource. Netafim’s NFC300 Flow Computer T he NFC300 is a bluetooth data logger designed to capture accumulated volume and historic flow rates from up to two pulse output flow meters. Data is retrieved from the NFC300 using the accompanying mobile app on a Bluetooth enabled iOS or Android device. From there the data is uploaded to the cloud via the mobile device’s Internet connection or, if no Internet connection is available, the data is stored on the mobile device until an Internet connection becomes available. “This is a great solution for areas where cellular service is unavailable,” according to literature from Netafim, which is the manufacturer of the product. As an added benefit, the NFC300 mobile app can display real time flow rate with a resettable totalizer for the meters in hard to reach places. While the NFC300 partners well with Netafim’s line of flow meters, it’s also compatible with third party flow meters. In fact, the NFC300 is compatible with most dry contact, open collector, or open drain pulse output flow meters. “We recently worked with a customer that paired the NFC300 to a Seametrics AG 3000 meter. After connecting the wires, we programmed the meter to output a pulse, installed the battery in the NFC300 and configured the NFC300 to read the meter’s pulse resolution,” said an article on Netafim’s website. Once a meter is connected to the NFC300, and its data has been collected by the mobile app, it can be viewed online through any modern web browser. The data can be analyzed on the web or it can be exported to a CSV file for use in other software. Netafim’s business model for this product does not include a monthly or yearly subscription fees. The price of the NFC300 includes a lifetime archiving license which means a customer’s data will be stored in the cloud until the customer deletes it. As an added benefit, the NFC300 can receive software updates from the mobile app . More information including manuals and training videos, is available on the firm’s website: www.netafimusa.com.
14 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
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MAY | JUNE 2018
Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com
WATER YEAR 2017/18 Solid Spring Helps with Disappointing Winter By Tim Linden A series of March and April storms helped California move much closer to a normal year in terms of precipitation and helped keep the dreaded “D-word” out of the conversation for at least another year. “As of today’s date (April 16), we are still well below average with regard to snow depth,” said Doug Carlson, who is an information officer with the California Department of Water Resources. “We are only a bit over 41 percent of normal.” He said a very dry February is the major culprit. Often the wettest month of the winter, this year February checked in with only about 15 percent of its normal precipitation. But Carlson said above average rain in March and April, plus a strong reservoir position going into the water year, has helped offset the Current Regi al Snowpack f om Automated Snow Sensors
NORTH Data as of April 19, 2018 Though the numbers are looking better, Carlson said many are still concerned about the overall trend. From 2012 through 2015, those four years were historically dry. Carlson said some are wondering if the 2016/17 water year was just an outlier and dryer conditions are going to prevail once again. Again, a year that approaches 85 percent of average isn’t a huge concern assuming it is followed by a year that tops average. But, if this below-average Number of Stations Reporting 30 Average snow water equivalent (Inches) 9.3 Percent of April 1 Average (%) Percent of normal for this date (%) 34 39 less than stellar winter. Though the below average snow depth means less reservoir-filling runoff this spring, Carlson said many of the state’s largest reservoir are at or above normal as the rainy season winds down. For example on the April 16 th date, the Shasta reservoir in Northern California was at 108 percent of normal while the Don Pedro Reservoir in the Central Valley was sitting at 123 percent of normal. And that same day, Northern California was being pelted with a cold storm that was sure to deliver a late blanketing of the Sierras. Checking up-to-date data, Carlson said the state was at 84 percent of its average precipitation at its Northern California weather stations, which is where the vast majority of rain falls each year. Southern California was still tracking far below normal, but Carlson said those numbers are not as accurate as the north simply because the southern half of the state is not equipped with as many weather stations because that is not where the rain and snow typically falls and accumulates.
% of April 1 Average / % of Normal for This Date Current Regional Snowpack from Automated Snow Sensors
Northern Sierra / Trinity
34% / 39%
CENTRAL Data as of April 19, 2018
Number of Stations Reporting
48% / 52%
Average snow water equivalent (Inches) Percent of April 1 Average (%) Percent of normal for this date (%)
33% / 36%
% of April 1 Average / % of Normal for this Date
SOUTH Data as of April 19, 2018 Statewide Average: 40% / 44%
Number of Stations Reporting
Average snow water equivalent (Inches) Percent of April 1 Average (%) Percent of normal for this date (%) Data as of April 19, 2018
North Central South State
Number of stations reporting
Average snow water equivalent (inches)
STATE Data as of April 19, 2018
Percent of April 1 average (%)
Number of Stations Reporting
Average snow water equivalent (Inches) Percent of April 1 Average (%) Percent of normal for this date (%) Percent of normal for this date (%)
16 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
feet (MAF) of water may be available to replenish groundwater basins in an average year. With additional investments in programs such as water storage, conservation, recycling, stormwater capture, desalination, and conveyance improvements, more water could be available for replenishment in the future. Water deliveries from the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project have reduced groundwater overdraft in many basins in the state; however, average deliveries have declined in recent years due to drought and regulatory requirements to protect water quality and critical species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and tributaries. Climate change is expected to further exacerbate these challenges. The WAFR report states that constructing additional storage north and south of the Delta and improving Delta conveyance infrastructure would limit the decline of water project deliveries and provide a more reliable supply of surface water for replenishment and other purposes. The WAFR report analyzed water supply, demand, and runoff in 10 regions of the state to estimate how much surface water could be available to replenish groundwater basins. It provided a visual depiction of supply and demand in each region, as well as a range of potential water available for replenishment estimates. It is available through DWR.
year continues a string of below-average years, only interrupted by one rainy year, concerns will be heightened. As a point of reference, the four drought years produced an aggregate rainfall of less than 75 percent of average, which means the average of the previous 50 years. Again, speaking in averages, about 75 percent of California’s annual statewide precipitation occurs from November through March with 50 percent occurring from December through February. The average precipitation is dependent on a relatively small number of storms. Typically, only a few storms during the winter season can determine if the year will be wet or dry. The March storms underscored this fact. On March 1, the statewide snow pack was only at 23 percent of the average. By April 1, average snowpack had climbed to 52 percent of average. In a press release distributed in early April, California Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth expressed exasperation at the state’s weather patterns. “These snowpack results—while better than they were a few weeks ago—still underscore the need for widespread careful and wise use of our water supplies. The only thing predictable about California’s climate is that it’s unpredictable. We need to make our water system more resilient so we’re prepared for the extreme fluctuations in
our water system, especially in the face of climate change.” The snow survey found a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 12.4 inches, or 49 percent of average for this time of year. The snowpack normally provides about a third of the water for California’s farms and communities as it melts in the spring and summer and fills reservoirs and rivers. Several days later, DWR released a report detailing the water available for aquifer recharge, which was also less than optimistic. The updated analysis of California’s water resources argued that investment, innovation, and infrastructure will be necessary to achieve the state’s goal of sustainable groundwater management. The report provided an estimate of the amount of water available to replenish groundwater basins to help inform development of local groundwater sustainability plans for critically overdrafted basins by January 2020. “The WAFR (Water Available For Replenishment) report makes it abundantly clear that a diversified water resources portfolio is needed at the local, regional and state levels,” said Director Nemeth. “If California is to simultaneously bring sustainability to its groundwater basins, cope with climate change, and meet future demands, water managers must embrace a comprehensive, innovative approach.” DWR estimates that 1.5 million acre-
Drought conditions (Percent Area)
as of 04-17-18
None D0-D4 D1-D4 D2-D4 D3-D4 D4
34.10 65.90 37.10 13.77 2.50 0.00
Last Week 04-10-2018
33.85 66.15 37.10 13.77 2.50 0.00
3 Months Ago 01-16-2018
53.21 46.79 12.69 0.00 0.00 0.00
Start of Calendar Year 01-02-2018
55.70 44.30 12.69 0.00 0.00 0.00
Start of Water Year 09-26-2017
77.88 22.12 8.24 0.00 0.00 0.00
One Year Ago 04-18-2017
76.54 23.46 8.24 1.06 0.00 0.00
Intensity D0 Abnormally Dry D1 Moderate Drought D2 Severe Drought D3 Extreme Drought D4 Exceptional Drought
18 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
We may be square, but we’ve been thinking circular for years.
More corrugated packaging is recovered for recycling than any other packaging material 1 . In 2016, the recovery rate for old corrugated containers (OCC) was 93 percent, up from 54 percent in 1993. Maybe that’s because 96 percent of Americans have access to community curbside or drop-off corrugated recycling programs 2 . And nearly all OCC is used to make new paper products. www.corrugated.org
1 2013 EPA “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2013 Fact Sheet” 2 2014 AF&PA Community Access Survey. Louis Berger, February 2015
Pago: The Ag Labor Platform
By Stephanie Metzinger E nvision a future where digital can receive real-time visibility of crew time, production and labor costs. With Pago, that future is here. Pago is the first product to serve both farm labor contractors and growers by offering a platform where the two parties can work collaboratively to carry out crucial labor activities. These include everything from scheduling crews and calculating time rate and piece rate to monitoring crew activity in real time and simplifying payroll systems and contract negotiations through easy-to-use digital systems. “When developing Pago, we first took the perspective of it working for labor contractors and then enhanced the system to benefit growers,” said Mike Dodson, systems completely replace hand- written time sheets and where you
CEO of Pago. “Our software team partnered with farm labor contractors and growers to build the product, ensuring that that the platform met the needs of both parties.” Pago is the brainchild of the same agtech software team that built Lotpath Quality, a leading quality control system for fruits and vegetables that improves food chain visibility and ensures the highest quality products travel through the fresh supply chain. After the success of Lotpath Quality, the team wanted to take their experience and knowledge of ag and tech to build a new product that would help solve another pressing industry issue: labor. HOW PAGOWORKS For Farm Labor Contractors For farm labor contractors, the Pago team can help configure an account or
labor contractors can configure their account themselves. This includes importing employees and crews; setting up grower customer and field lists; and designing contracts to include compensation information for employees and billing details for customers. With contracts in place, the labor contractor or grower can start scheduling crews to work on particular fields on particular days. In the field, the innovative technology behind the Pago employee badge is used. Pago badges allow for easy time keeping, as each badge is linked to an employee’s profile and photo and equipped with a chip that can be scanned with the Pago Timekeeper smart phone app. Recording an employee’s time in a crew, clocking in and out and collecting production information for each employee has never been simpler.
20 Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com MAY | JUNE 2018
As data is recorded in the mobile app, the information is automatically sent in realtime to the Pago cloud servers. The time and production data is immediately visible to labor contractor office staff and the grower field personnel. The data can be used to pay employees and invoice the respective grower. In addition to crew scheduling, time keeping and payroll, Pago also offers labor contractors the ability to track labor costs, monitor crew production efficiency, create grower bills faster, and maximize profitability. For Growers Similarly, Pago provides growers with real-time visibility of productivity of every crew throughout the day. Growers are also able to see how must costs are accruing in real time. To get started, a grower partners with the Pago team and the grower’s farm labor contractors to set up linked accounts, with online contracts that are accessible to each party. The online contracts include detailed compensation and billing parameters that enable time and production tracking and set the financial terms of invoices from labor contractors to growers. Growers can receive invoices from farm labor contractors through the online platform and export cost information to their accounting system for crop costing and initiating labor contractor payments. “We are most proud of how easy the product is to use and the sophisticated technology behind the platform,” said Dodson. To be useful to all growers and farm labor contractors across the nation, time rate and piece rate calculations are compliant with federal and state laws. Compliance rules apply to the jurisdiction where work is performed, and a real- time compliance engine monitors crew and employee time and production data to warn of any compliance issues (e.g., minimum wage, overtime, meal penalties, piece rate pay). A WG PARTNERSHIP Pago is currently headquartered in Fresno, CA, and now has reach in Salinas through the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT). Dodson was one of the inaugural entrepreneurs with a “hot desk” in the WGCIT. Joining the Center two years ago, and experiencing the benefits, he found it only appropriate to have the official
public unveiling of Pago during WGCIT’s “Innovation in the Imperial Valley” event in Brawley this past February. “The Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology has provided us many opportunities to introduce our products to the industry,” said Dodson. “The Pago team especially appreciates the ongoing events where leaders from the industry are invited to meet startups and share ideas on innovation.” Through the support from industry members and the drive, knowledge and
skill of the Pago team, the product is continually being refined to be on the cutting-edge of ag labor platforms. Moving forward, Dodson said he hopes to enhance the product enough to where billing and payment processing can be done at a touch of a button and farmworkers can directly access Pago to receive information such as paycheck stubs and W-2s. Both the web platform and mobile app are available in English and Spanish.
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