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Annual Meeting Award of Honor: Carol Chandler’s Family Values Inspired Her to Become a Trailblazing Ag Advocate

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W E S T E R N G R O W E R & S H I P P E R

12 Soulmates: Power Couples Running the Farm 16 Drought Triggers Cuts to Arizona Water Supply 17 ANNUAL MEETING AWARD OF HONOR: Carol Chandler’s Family Values Inspired Her to Become a Trailblazing Ag Advocate 20 WG Goes All in for Agtech Workforce Development 30 A Bit of Normalcy Returns to Ag Legal Battles 32 Western Growers Ag Legal Network Directory 40 2021 Annual Meeting Schedule 43 WGCIT SPONSOR: Duda Farm Fresh Foods: Collaboration Key to Technology Effort

DEPARTMENTS 4 President’s Notes 6 Director Profile 10 Federal Government Affairs 24 Legislator Profile 26 California Government Affairs 28 Member Welcome & Anniversaries 38 Western Growers Assurance Trust 42 Innovation 44 Update from the WGCIT 46 Western Growers Insurance Services 48 Science 49 Agriculture & the Law 52 Connections 53 Contact Us 54 Inside Western Growers

WESTERN GROWER & SHIPPER Published Since 1929 Volume XCII | Number 5

To enhance the competitiveness and profitability of Western Growers members

Dave Puglia President & CEO Western Growers davep@wga.com

Editor Tim Linden Champ Publishing 925.258.0892 | tlinden@wga.com Contributors Cory Lunde 949.885.2264 | clunde@wga.com Stephanie Metzinger 949.885.2256 | smetzinger@wga.com Ann Donahue 949.302.7600 | adonahue@wga.com Production Diane Mendez 949.885.2372 | dmendez@wga.com Circulation Marketing 949.885.2248 | marketing@wga.com Advertising Sales Dana Davis Tyger Marketing 302.750.4662 | danadavis@epix.net

45 BOOST BIOMES: Harnessing the Hidden Relationships of Microbiomes for Ag



Western Grower & Shipper ISSN 0043-3799, Copyright © 2021 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. 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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Build it, Dam it! By Dave Puglia, President and CEO, Western Growers

I recently wrote of the rhetorical shift in California water policy from “water supply reliability” to “water resiliency.” With more than 88 percent of the state in extreme or exceptional drought and many of our reservoirs hitting historic lows just two years after being completely full, we see what that really means.

California State Senator Jim Nielsen spoke plain truth in a recent Sacramento Bee op-ed: “The state has failed to invest appropriately in large, statewide surface-water storage and conveyance, leaving California ill-prepared for drought conditions and jeopardizing its environmental and fiscal health.” Ironically, the embrace of “resiliency” has so far served to rob our water infrastructure of the very capabilities needed to maximize flexibility, i.e., resiliency. In recasting water priorities, we now have a system that has been rendered incapable of serving the needs of cities, agriculture or rivers and habitat. So far this year, the consequences of California water policy realignment have manifested themselves in dangerous emergency curtailment orders for the most senior water rights holders in the Russian River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watersheds, after a zero percent allocation for Central Valley Project (CVP) farms and five percent from the State Water Project (SWP). And, of course, another dry winter would be catastrophic. In stark terms, the current drought has broken our state’s water system. But this is not because our system lacks resiliency. Our water infrastructure was designed to sustain our needs for more than two years of severe drought. Following a drought from 1928 to 1934, CVP and SWP engineers designed reservoirs like Shasta and Oroville to provide long-term carryover storage with capacity several times the typical annual yield. Fast forward to our current reality: From October 2018 to September 2019, the year prior to the beginning of our current drought, 27.5 million acre-feet, or 82.6 percent of all water that flowed into the Delta, continued out to sea. Certainly, a good portion was necessary to prevent saltwater intrusion but what would we give to have just a portion of that water back now? Which takes us back to Senator Nielsen’s op-ed. He is one of many to ask the obvious question: What is happening with the water storage money approved by voters in 2014? With Prop. 1, California voters understood that they were putting a $2.7 billion down payment on tangible water storage projects, and one that was often cited, Sites Reservoir, even seemed acceptable to many environmental groups. This proposed Sacramento Valley facility would provide flexibility in water storage and delivery for farms and cities, groundwater recharge and as an offset to keep more cold water behind Shasta Dam for fish regulatory requirements.

Seven years later, not a single shovel has hit the ground. Even though Sites Reservoir was authorized for Prop. 1 funding by the California Water Commission, the regulators whittled down the amount being sought and it has remained at the starting line as proponents seek to make up for the shortfall. To date, of the $2.7 billion approved by voters in Prop. 1 for water storage, only $150 million has been authorized. Growing up in Sacramento, we frequently saw cars with bumper stickers that exclaimed, “Build it, Dam it!” in reference to the proposed Auburn Dam on the American River. Environmental activists used every tactic thinkable to block both Auburn Dam and New Melones Dam. Auburn Dam, which was also hampered by escalating costs due to earthquake safety concerns, was never built. New Melones went forward, and its 1980 completion marks the state’s last major surface storage addition. To date, of the $2.7 billion approved by voters in Prop. 1 for water storage, only $150 million has been authorized. No one has (yet) chained themselves to rocks in the area where Sites Reservoir would be, as opponents of Auburn and New Melones did back in the day. They don’t need to; having created a Kafkaesque regulatory process and a sophisticated “see you in court” business model, environmental activist groups keep racking up wins that play well with their donors and translate to losses for cities and farms that need reliable water. Western water needs would get a big boost if the U.S. Senate-approved infrastructure bill clears the House of Representatives. We worked hard with partners throughout the West to obtain more than $8 billion to repair our dams and canals and build new storage and conveyance facilities, among other water projects. But as the Sites Reservoir nonsense illustrates, money is only part of the equation. Until voters expect better than worsening water shortages and demand something more concrete and additive than “resilience” as a salve for mitigating the harms of declining resources, California will consign its people to economic and social distress.



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Rod Braga, President/CEO Braga Ranch Director since 2020 | Member since 1977

Organic Pioneer Has Deep Salinas Valley Roots

By Tim Linden

Family History: Sebastian and Josie Braga began farming in the Soledad region of the Salinas Valley in 1928 with fresh vegetables and dairy products forming the core of their business. A cattle operation was added later. Ninety-three years later their legacy lives on in many ways. The original 600-acre ranch, purchased in 1937, is still thriving but the family farms more than 4,000 acres. The dairy business was dropped in the 1950s and the cattle operation survived until the 1980s,

but today Josie’s Organics is the lead brand for the organic commodities and value-added items produced by Braga Fresh Family Farms and Braga Fresh Foods. And the patriarch of the family has lent his name to the company’s year-round custom harvesting service, Sebastian Harvesting. A Family Farm Grows Up : That original “home ranch” remains the core of the Braga family farming operation. In the 1950s, the operation began to grow



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as Sebastian’s three sons Ernest, Norman and Stanley joined the family business and took it into the 1990s, which was when the growth curve started to rise sharply. Rod Braga, Norman’s oldest son and the current President/CEO, joined the company in the early 1990s, and has been involved in much of that growth. It was in the early 1990s that Braga Ranch added its custom harvesting operation, grew its farming division and launched its fertilizer application unit. By the late 1990s, it was beginning to grow organic crops. In the mid-2000s, the company added production in the Imperial Valley. The Josie’s Organic label was launched in 2012, with the fresh cut division debuting in 2016. Today, Rod estimated that about 70 percent of its production is organic with 30 percent conventional. Its commodity business still holds the majority position in its daily output but value-added is growing rapidly. And as it has done for many decades, Braga Ranch remains a grower of both organic and conventional crops for many other California shippers. “We have relationships that go back decades, especially on the processing side,” Rod said. The Organic Piece : “We’d like to say we got into organics driven by philosophy, but we sort of lucked into it,” Rod said. He explained that the company acquired some land in the 1990s that hadn’t been farmed. The organic movement was gaining traction at the time and this land presented an opportunity to join the party without having to transition land from conventional to organic production. They started slowly and increased their acreage gradually until they had transitioned the entire 600-acre home ranch. Growth continued after that to other owned and leased land. Braga has enjoyed leading the charge as the category has exploded over the past two decades. “As organics have become more mainstream, the category can’t grow by the same percentage as it once did,” Rod said, “but it is still growing, and we are still seeing double-digit year-over-year growth.” Rod noted that he had just returned from a sales trip to Iowa where every store he

visited seems to have an ever-increasing organics department. He added that organic sales in the Midwest were once the domain of the larger cities and the college towns, but now even markets in the most rural communities feature organic fruits and vegetables. The Dynamics of the Organic Market : With more than 20 years of experience under their family belt, the Bragas are expert in growing organic crops. Rod said every crop is different but with some— such as Romaine hearts and celery—they get almost identical yields from their organic and conventional fields. In others—such as broccoli and cauliflower— pest pressure within the product itself makes it difficult for an organic field to yield like a conventional one.

“It's difficult to generalize because every crop is different, but as a ballpark guess, it costs about 20 percent more to produce an organic crop,” he figured, noting that the biggest cost is fertilizer application. “You got to get the nitrogen down. You have to do it early and have plenty of it. There are other added costs but that’s the big one.” Rod’s Journey : He grew up on the Soledad ranch and always figured he would follow in the family footsteps. His father, Norman, went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but he did not want Rod to follow suit. “He told me he could teach me everything about farming; he wanted me to learn other things.” Rod went to St. Mary’s College in Moraga, Calif., and earned his degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance. “I considered going to the East



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after college and looking for a job in the financial sector, but I ended up coming back and taking over farming on the home ranch.” He began with leafy greens in the field and soon helped the company vertically integrate with the addition of new entities. He stayed focused on the family business and claims that he has limited outside hobbies…at least until children entered the picture. Rod and his wife, Niki, have three children in their lives, including 15-year-old Skyler, 10-year-old Sebastian and eight-year-old Sterling. “I’ve never had too many hobbies, but now my free time is taken up with the kids. All of them play sports. So, if I’m not working, I’m probably involved in soccer, football or basketball. And we also love skiing as a family.” The 3 rd & 4 th Braga Generation : Rod leads a group of four in his generation of the family tree involved in the company. His brother, Chris, runs the shop, while cousin Marshall is in charge of the food safety

department and cousin Carson oversees the harvesting operation. The 4 th generation is still young with the oldest in college and his grade school daughter rounding out the group. A couple in that generation have put in some time in the office or on the ranch but it is way too early to see who might make it into the company as it approaches its 100 th anniversary later this decade. The Future of Agriculture in California : Rod takes an interesting an optimistic view of the future of production agriculture in the Golden State. He acknowledges all the difficulties involved in running a business in California, but he sees that as an advantage for a many-decades-old- company like Braga Ranch. “All those difficulties are a heck of a barrier of entry. Who would try to start a new business here? On the other hand, we have the best land in the world and all the water we need here in the Salinas Valley. The future couldn’t be better!”



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Bipartisan Infrastructure Package Addresses Critical Western Needs By Dennis Nuxoll, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs Last year, Western Growers began working to create a coalition across the Western United States to insist that any infrastructure package that Congress passed must include significant resources for water infrastructure in the West.

In early August, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill that contains the fruit of many, many months of hard work from hundreds of organizations in the West who, working together, were able to get major funding for Western water needs. While some funding categories fall slightly short of needs on the ground, the bipartisan package includes roughly $8 billion, which would go a long way toward repairing crumbling water infrastructure in the West, increasing water recycling and water desalination, making significant investments in habitat restoration, enhancing water conservation efforts and constructing critical new storage and conveyance, including both natural and traditional infrastructure. Taken together, the Western water package included in the bipartisan bill represents a historic opportunity to create balanced water management tools that align with solutions Western water managers have sought for years. This federal investment will increase water security for tens of millions Americans. The idea behind this proposal was to put forward a unified package that agricultural organizations, rural water districts and urban water districts across each and every Western state could get behind. Rather than target specific projects as has been historically done, we wanted to target large programs from which specific projects would be funded. We wanted to create a wide range of water management options so local circumstance could dictate solutions not bureaucrats in Washington. What might work in Idaho might not work in Arizona and what works in Arizona might be different than what works in Colorado. That basic philosophy was the driving force behind creating a large proposal that embraced so many types of solutions. We also believed that by working together we would be better positioned to get Western congressional members of the House and Senate onboard. Rather than fight for one project in one state, we worked together to fight for funding that would help projects in every state. About 220 organizations joined the effort over the past year, and as a result of that work, we have raised awareness of Western water issues. We have raised the profile of the Western issues that often gets lost in East Coast press bias. We have a national level steering committee as well as teams advocating in each state. Coupled with these outreach efforts to Congress, we also have active communications teams working in each state

and at the national level to help push the narrative. Those efforts have been mostly successful with the Senate passage of the bipartisan bill that included a huge Western water investment. Now, we have to marshal the forces to push the bill through the House of Representatives and ensure the money stays in place as do the policy positions. Once that is done, we will be turning our attention to the reconciliation package that may move in the fall. We believe there is an opportunity and a need to try and secure some additional funds in that package around things that may have been left out of the bipartisan deal. As drought ravages the West, every Western Growers member feels it. We know that crop productivity is down. We know water supply is down and costs are up. We know the future is uncertain so that’s why we are working to at the very least ensure that the federal government ramps up its efforts to help the West with water problems caused by a changing climate. Here is what is in the package for Western Water: · Aging Infrastructure: $3.2 billion, includes $100 million for certain Bureau of Reclamation projects suffering a critical failure and $100 million for repairs to specific Carey Act dams · Water Storage, Groundwater Storage and Conveyance (WIIN Act): $1.15 billion, includes $100 million for new 25 percent grants for small surface/groundwater storage projects · Water Recycling: $1 billion, includes $450 million for new authorized large water recycling project grant program · Desalination: $250 million · Rural Water: $1 billion · Dam Safety: $500 million · Drought Contingency Plan: $300 million, includes $50 million for Upper Basin States · WaterSMART: $400 million, includes $100 million for natural infrastructure projects · Cooperative Watershed Management: $100 million · Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Program: $250 million · Watershed enhancement projects: $100 million · Colorado River Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation Programs: $50 million · Forest management efforts: While a little more indirect the bill includes more than $3 billion for USDA and Department of Interior efforts to improve forest management which have both wildfire and water benefits. · Ecosystem restoration: $2 billion for USDA and Department of Interior efforts to help ecosystem restoration programs, which helps lower pressure on various water projects by ensuring environmental concerns are addressed.



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Soulmates: Power Couples Running the Farm

By Stephanie Metzinger I n an industry that has historically embodied family values, couple-owned enterprises bring a unique, homegrown aspect to agriculture. Family-owned businesses currently account for 64 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, with husband-wife teams running an estimated 1.2 million companies. These dynamic duos have led organizations and companies that have triumphed over challenges time and time again largely due to their founders’ iron-clad bonds and strong family commitment. Alexandra & Paul Allen Company: Main Street Produce/Freshway Farms Locations: Santa Maria, California For Alexandra Allen, a chance visit to an old elementary school friend forever changed her life. “Paul and I met when I came to Santa Maria to spend a weekend with my best friend from second grade, who I had not seen in many years,” she said. Alexandra and Paul married two years after their encounter, and not long after, their fruitful business partnership began. Together, they operate Main Street Produce, a cooler, shipper and marketing company; Freshway Farms, a strawberry and vegetable farming company; and Fresh Valley Harvesting, a farm labor contracting company. While Paul’s focus is generally on Main Street Produce and marketing

In U.S. agriculture specifically, where 98 percent of America’s 2.2 million farms are family-owned and operated, these power couples have built well-rounded farming companies that equally balance economic and operational expertise with cultural and equitable competence. Though there are countless husband-wife dream teams across the nation, here is a look at some throughout Western Growers membership.

quality strawberries and broccoli through Freshway Farms, while selling product and offering cooling services to other growers and shippers through Main Street Produce. “My favorite thing about working together is that it makes me feel like our lives are really 100 percent connected,” said Alexandra. “We have laughed about how it can be kind of hard to ‘turn off ’ the shop talk, but at the same time, we are both so appreciative to have partners that really, truly understand what we do. We both care deeply about these companies and all of our employees, and when you really care deeply about something, it is great to have a spouse who honestly does ‘get it’!”

their product, Alexandra puts most of her energy into Freshway Farms as compliance counsel. “Our skill sets are different from each other, but that is a good thing,” said Paul. “It’s great to know that you have a partner that you can completely trust and that you know cares about the business and the people involved as deeply as you do.” Paul’s father founded Main Street Produce in the ‘70s, and through Alexandra and Paul’s immense responsibility for producing food and taking care of the land and the people that make it possible, the husband-and- wife team expanded the company and brought all three entities to new heights. Today, the Allens consistently grow top-



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Cindi & Larry Pearson Company: Santa Rosa Produce Locations: Maricopa, Arizona

From Army to agriculture, Cindi and Larry Pearson have together grown their family farm into a melon powerhouse. Michigan-native Cindi met Larry, a third-generation grower, while serving in the Army; Cindi was in supply working for the Military Police and Larry was in the Military Police when the duo met. After completing their service, the couple then embarked on their joint-farming enterprise. The pair jumped on an opportunity to buy some ground in Maricopa at an auction, and after winning the bid, the bank also offered a cooler that was near the acreage for a discounted rate. At the time, the couple did not have extensive knowledge about cooling; fast-forward 30 years, one of the Pearsons’ claims to fame is now skillfully running a 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art cooling facility that allows them to be efficient with their melon production as well as maximize storage capacity to guarantee quality. The Pearsons also have built a reputation for implementing leading technologies to produce top-of-the-line cantaloupe, honeydew, mixed melons and cotton. In fact, they have been credited with being among the first melon operations to implement 100 percent drip irrigation. The couple celebrated their 40-year anniversary a few years back, and their partnership has only grown stronger. Today, Cindi operates the shipping and cold storage of the melons while Larry Pearson manages the growing, and they continue to make all business decisions together.

Harrison Topp & Stacia Cannon Company: Topp Fruits Locations: Hotchkiss, Colorado Launching a farming enterprise from the ground up is a massive endeavor, but first-generation farmers Harrison Topp and Stacia Cannon are tackling the challenge in stride…and making it look easy. “My partner Stacia and I are beginning farmers,” said Harrison. “Neither one of us grew up directly in agriculture, so when we decided that we wanted to do this we had to figure out a lot of things and make a lot of assessments about what the future might have in store.” Harrison’s journey into agriculture started in 2012 when he casually started managing his parents’ plum and cherry orchard in Paonia, Colorado. Soon after, he started to develop a deep passion for horticulture and orchards and had inklings to expand operations. “I started looking for more ground and that’s when Stacia came into my life. We started taking it seriously and really realizing what scale we needed to be at to make it work,” he said. The pair officially expanded the operation in 2018 with an apple and peach orchard in Hotchkiss, and since then, have teamed to establish a strong market to move their fruit. Playing “divide and conquer,” the pair have set up relationships with packing houses, community-supported agriculture and farmers’ markets



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WESTERN GROWERS OFFICERS – 2021 RYAN TALLEY, Chairman ALBERT KECK, Senior Vice Chair STUART WOOLF, Vice Chair CAROL CHANDLER, Treasurer VICTOR SMITH, Executive Secretary DAVE PUGLIA, President & CEO DIRECTORS – 2021 GEORGE J. ADAM Innovative Produce, Santa Maria, California ALEXANDRA ALLEN Main Street Produce, Santa Maria, California KEVIN S. ANDREW Illume Agriculture, Bakersfield, California ROBERT K. BARKLEY Barkley Ag Enterprises LLP, Yuma, Arizona STEPHEN J. BARNARD Mission Produce, Inc., Oxnard, California BARDIN E. BENGARD Bengard Ranch, Salinas, California LOREN BOOTH Booth Ranches, Orange Cove, California GEORGE BOSKOVICH III Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, California RODNEY BRAGA Braga Ranch, Soledad, California NEILL CALLIS Turlock Fruit Company, Turlock, California EDWIN A. CAMP D. M. Camp & Sons, Bakersfield, California CAROL CHANDLER Chandler Farms LP, Selma, California LAWRENCE W. COX Lawrence Cox Ranches, Brawley, 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 FRANZ W. DE KLOTZ Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, 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 BRANDON A. GRIMM Grimmway Farms, Arvin, California JOHN JACKSON Beachside Produce, LLC, Nipomo, California A. G. KAWAMURA Orange County Produce, LLC, Irvine, California ALBERT KECK Hadley Date Gardens, Thermal, California J.P. LABRUCHERIE LaBrucherie Produce, El Centro, 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 TOM MULHOLLAND Mulholland Citrus, Orange Cove, California ALEXANDER T. MULLER Pasquinelli Produce Co., Yuma, Arizona DOMINIC J. MUZZI Muzzi Family Farms, LLC, Moss Landing, California MARK NICKERSON Prime Time International, Coachella, California THOMAS M. NUNES The Nunes Company, Inc., Salinas, California STEPHEN F. PATRICIO Westside Produce, Firebaugh, California RON RATTO Ratto Bros. Inc., Modesto, California CRAIG A. READE Bonipak Produce, Inc., Santa Maria, California ERIC T. REITER Reiter Affiliated Companies, Oxnard, California JOSEPH A. RODRIGUEZ The Growers Company, Inc., Somerton, Arizona WILL ROUSSEAU Rousseau Farming Company, Tolleson, Arizona VICTOR SMITH JV Smith Companies, Yuma, Arizona RYAN TALLEY Talley Farms, Arroyo Grande, California BRUCE C. TAYLOR Taylor Farms California, Salinas, California STUART WOOLF Woolf Farming & Processing, Fresno, California ROB YRACEBURU Wonderful Orchards, Shafter, California

in anticipation of the large shift of fruit volume within the next couple of years. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the farm, the young couple also developed a meticulously calculated model that would allow them to balance the amount of work and financial stress that come with farming in a way that would allow them to have a family, support one another and keep healthy. The main element of their model is maintaining off-farm work.

Harrison works as membership director for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union while Stacia works for a vet clinic. “During the farm season, they allow me to step down to do relief work which is really important for our business,” said Stacia. As the couple artfully balances off- farm work with growing their orchard operation, they look forward to seeing Topp Fruits be sold far and wide for years to come.

Larry & Tina Cox Company: Coastline Family Farms Locations: California, Arizona and Mexico

While attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Larry and Tina formed an unbreakable bond that has since transformed into a marriage, a family of four and a thriving business partnership. The husband-and-wife team founded Lawrence Cox Ranches in 1984 and began farming a 70-acre cotton field. The company now farms 3,300 acres in the Imperial Valley and the production has expanded to include all types of lettuce, melons, onions, asparagus, wheat, alfalfa, grains, hay and seed crops. “Among my favorite things about working together, I’ve enjoyed the additional time we’ve been able to spend together—especially while traveling,” said Larry. “I’m pretty much ‘go, get the job done, get back home and get back to work,’ while Tina is much

more spontaneous than I am and will say ‘let’s take an additional day or two when meetings are done and go see the surrounding areas.’” In 1991, the couple launched Coastline Family Farms, and through their tenacity and dedication, the farm has grown into a year-round grower-shipper of premium vegetables from California, Arizona and Mexico. Though Tina stepped back from the business for a short period to raise their two sons, she has now returned to the farm and currently leads projects such as product development for Coastline Family Farms, logistics for employee housings and resource updates for human resources. The classic yin to the yang, Larry and Tina’s different strengths beautifully complement each other to result in a thriving and healthy work environment for their employees. “Tina has a different thought process than I do, and thank God for that,” said Larry. “She has strength and wisdom in areas that I don’t. She is much more perceptive of what is being asked of the people who work with us and is protective of their time and families. I’ve learned to trust her opinion.”



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Drought Triggers Cuts to Arizona Water Supply

By Tim Linden O n August 16, in their annual report on the level of Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead, federal officials revealed that the water level has fallen to a point that automatically triggers cuts in Arizona’s water deliveries for 2022. Arizona Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke told Western Grower & Shipper that the brunt of the impact of the 18 percent reduction (512,000 acre-feet) will be felt by Central Arizona farmers in Pinal County, who are mostly involved in field crop production as well as dairy farms and cattle ranches. There are few fresh produce crops grown in that region. The Bureau of Reclamation measured the Lake Mead level at 1,068 feet, which is an all-time low since the dam was built in the 1930s and Lake Mead was formed and filled. In a 2019 drought contingency plan, California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico agreed to take voluntary cutbacks in deliveries in an effort to maintain sufficient levels in Lake Mead. The agreement mandates cutbacks when specific water

federal officials to go back to the drawing table and discuss further measures to take to preserve the level of Lake Mead that allows for normal water deliveries. The Arizona water expert said the trend in Lake Mead is not favorable as it has dropped more than 143 feet below its level of two decades ago. While some heavy precipitation years did see a rise in the level of Lake Mead, the overall graph is unmistakably heading down. Buschatzke said the precipitous drop this past year is due to an unprecedented below average runoff. While runoff from the snowpack in the mountains feeding the Colorado River typically is in the 70-80 percent range, this spring’s runoff was only 32 percent. Severe drought conditions throughout the West created the huge drop-off. Though an overly wet year is always possible, the long-term trend points to the need for other solutions. In 2022, Buschatzke said Central Arizona will not receive sufficient deliveries from the Colorado River to recharge ground water supplies. He noted that once the Tier 1 cutbacks are triggered, there is no going back regardless of what happens over the next four months. He said water users and water suppliers need to have time to plan so the 2022 cutbacks are now written in stone. Long-term, he said the three lower Colorado River basin states are searching for additional water sources. Projects that have been discussed and studied to some extent include buying water currently allocated to Native American Reservation land, building a desalinization plant near the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, increased use of reclaimed water in Las Vegas, and diverting water from the Mississippi and/ or the Missouri rivers to western states. All of these potential water sources come with a myriad of issues but it appears likely that a combination of these and other ideas will be necessary sooner rather than later.

levels are reached. A level of 1,075 feet or less is the first trigger with Arizona taking the most damaging hit, as the Colorado River water reduction represents about 8 percent of the state’s water supply. Nevada loses 7 percent (21,00 A.F.) of its total take, while Mexico is reduced by 5 percent (80,000 A.F). California is not impacted at this Tier 1 level of cutbacks, but it will be impacted if Lake Mead continues to decline. Tier 2 reductions are triggered at 1050 feet, with Arizona losing an additional 80,000 A.F. to 592,000, and Nevada losing 4,000 more A.F. to 25,000. Once the Lake Mead level falls below 1,045 feet, California’s first reduction kicks in with a cutback of 200,000 A.F. under Tier 2b rules. Cutbacks increase significantly for California as the water level continues to drop below that. The August 16 report projected Lake Mead’s water level for January 1, 2023, at a level above 1,050 feet, which predicts there will not be additional cutbacks until at least 2024. Buschatzke said a prediction of Tier 2 cuts in 2021 would also have triggered a provision of the agreement requiring California, Arizona, Nevada and

There is now a bathtub ring around Lake Mead, illustrating how far the lake has fallen in just the past couple of years.



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Carol Chandler’s Family Values Inspired Her to Become a Trailblazing Ag Advocate ANNUAL MEETING AWARD OF HONOR

By Ann Donahue Y ears ago, Carol Chandler found herself at a turning point. She was a “farm wife”—in her own words—a mother who put her career as a teacher on hold to dedicate her time to her family. But as she lived day in and day out with her husband, Bill, and her sons, Tom and John, on Chandler Farms, their fourth-generation operation in Selma, California, she had an important realization. Chandler recognized that she had a unique set of skills and a compelling voice thanks to being an educator, a woman, a mother and a farmer. “Through the years, I’ve found that in Sacramento and Washington D.C., when women who are involved in agriculture speak up, they listen,” Chandler said. “The women involved in our business, we’re moms and shoppers and food safety advocates and healthy eating advocates and advocates for our farm labor.” It was that key understanding that formed the basis of her career as one of the most effective agricultural ambassadors the industry has ever seen. Western Growers will honor Chandler with the Award of Honor during the 2021 Annual Meeting in recognition of her trailblazing work as an advocate, educator and philanthropist. “Underneath Carol’s warm and gracious demeanor lies a fierce and committed advocate for agriculture’s rightful place in our society,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. “There are few in our industry who have given so much time and energy in service to the greater good, and even fewer who have mustered the strength to stick with the fight even as others withdraw from disappointment. Advocacy is not for the faint of heart, which is one of many reasons Carol is so deserving of our highest honor.” For her part, Chandler said she’s not entirely comfortable with the limelight, but was “overwhelmed to be chosen for the Award of Honor,” Chandler said. “It's meant so much to me to



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be on the Board of Western Growers through the years.” “The Central Valley has much to be proud of and Carol Chandler is at the top of that list,” said President & CEO of Woolf Farming and Processing Stuart Woolf, who will be emceeing the Award of Honor presentation to Chandler at the 2021 Annual Meeting. “She’s a wonderful person, leader and great friend to many. Carol’s sharp mind, strong core values and eternal optimism make her a perfect role model. I am very proud to call her my friend.” Chandler’s initial impetus to get into agricultural advocacy came from how the issues she saw living on her family’s farm differed from the way those concerns were perceived outside the industry. Chandler is a partner of the operation founded by W.F. Chandler in the 1880s and grows grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines and almonds. “As I became more involved in our farm, I saw that labor was a huge issue,” she said. “The UFW was being very forceful. And we all felt that there was another side to the story—and who better to tell it than those of us who lived and worked on the farm?” The dedication to telling the true story of what was happening on the ground in agriculture lead to Chandler’s involvement in advocacy at the state, local and national levels. Besides serving on the board of Western Growers—including her current tenure as Treasurer—she is a member of the Central Valley Community Foundation, and previously served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Advisory Committee on Emerging Markets, the California Grape & Tree Fruit League and the Fresno County Fair Board.

How does she, frankly, find the time to do all this and help run a family farm? For Chandler, the two dedications are interchangeable—and she even admitted she has time for an occasional round of golf. “Our business is a partnership,” she said. “I think that the main thing is keeping everybody in the family involved, and communicating the issues with everybody. It’s easy for us because we all live close by. I think that it makes it more difficult when family members are not close by and maybe just have a financial interest. What's really important is keeping everybody up to date on what's happening financially, culturally and with everything to do with farming. I also think that getting everybody involved in advocacy is good as well.” A throughline in her years of service remains education: she was chair of the President’s Water Task Force for California State University at Fresno, serves on the University of California President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources, and held positions with the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University Board of Trustees and the Fresno State Board of Governors. “Being an educator, I don't think that you ever stop learning and you never reach the point when you just sit back and say, ‘I'm done.’ Because there's so much more out there,” she said. But education isn’t the only key for those looking to get involved in the agriculture industry, she said. It also requires a dedication to first-person experience. Knowing the theoretical aspects of ag is all well and good, according to Chandler, but it is critical to get out there and get your hands dirty. “I think if I didn’t live here and see what was happening day-to-day, it would be a little more difficult to see what goes on and be part of it—despite the dust from the almond harvest,” she joked. Of course, she wants to see more women get involved in the industry. Thanks to her participation in WG



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Women, American Agri-Women and as past State President for California Women for Agriculture, Chandler believes a hands-on, collective approach is the best way for women to raise pertinent issues. “When we started California Women for Agriculture, a lot of us gathered because we all thought that there needed to be a voice for agriculture that was not just coming from the farmers, but also from the women involved in farming,” she said. “I just always point to [a time when] Senator Feinstein looked around the room and saw one woman. Me! She said: ‘Where are all the women?’ I really am so pleased that we are working to remedy that situation.” And so, thanks to this lifelong dedication, the Award of Honor will sit on Chandler’s mantlepiece alongside awards for being named Agriculturists of the Year with her husband by the California State Fair Board of Directors in 2020 and Woman of the Year by the California State Legislature twice, once in 1992 and again in 2002. In 2004, the Fresno Chamber of Commerce named her Agriculturist of the Year. When she looks back on her contributions to the agricultural community, what is she most proud of? When prodded to brag, she demurred. Because for Chandler, the biggest award was already won before the day she realized her authentic voice could help change an industry. “I think that you feel appreciative and honored when receiving awards,” she said, “but I think that having a family and being family farmers are the best things that could ever happen in my life.” Chandler’s achievements and service will be recognized at the Award of Honor Dinner Gala at the Western Growers 2021 Annual Meeting at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego. The 2021 Annual Meeting will be held from Nov. 7 – 10, 2021; to register to attend or to take advantage of sponsorship opportunities, please go to the 2021 Annual Meeting website www.wgannualmeeting.com.

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WG Goes All in for Agtech Workforce Development

By Stephanie Metzinger A griculture has a shortage of labor to perform key functions such as harvesting, weeding and thinning. This decades-long labor shortage is exacerbated by the lack of immigration reform and an aging workforce. As a result, there is a critical need for leading-edge innovation from startups, established agtech equipment makers and solution providers. As the world’s skilled agtech entrepreneurs and technology experts invent solutions, the industry will need to transition the current ag workforce to master this new technology. This next generation of tech-savvy ag workers will need to be adept in everything from agriculture and agronomy to data

the skills and knowledge to navigate up-and-coming technology on the farm. WG maintains numerous initiatives aimed at transitioning the agriculture workforce to master rapidly developing agricultural technology: Careers in Ag This career pathways program encourages college students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers within the agricultural industry. As part of the program, college students embark on three-day tours of agricultural and technology operations in Monterey County, the Central Valley, the Coachella and Imperial valleys, and Yuma, Arizona. Throughout the tour, they learn about the vast array of STEM jobs available in the industry, meet ag professionals who provide career insight and guidance and connect with WG members to possibly pursue an internship or job within their operation. More than 250 students from UC Davis, Cal Poly Pomona, Cal State L.A., Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Fresno State and numerous California community colleges have participated in the program to date, with several having been placed in internships and jobs as a direct result of the program. AgTechX Ed WG teamed with Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, to launch a statewide initiative aimed

analytics and logic. Western Growers (WG) is going “all in” to meet the future workforce needs and is leading the charge on cultivating a workforce that has



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