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The WGCIT Turns 5 A Look Back at its First Years




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8 THE WGCIT TURNS 5: A Look Back At Its First Years 12 Women on the Front Lines of Leadership at Booth Ranches 14 Fieldin: Real-Time Spray Tech Startup Started by Growers for Growers 16 Best Practices to Build a Resilient Supply Chain During COVID-19 22 Biologicals Finding Mainstream Applications 24 Precision Ag Offers Efficiencies 26 ZAG Offers Managed IT to Ag 34 Update from the WGCIT 38 OPINION: The Army Corps of Engineers Has Become a Rogue Agency

WESTERN GROWER & SHIPPER Published Since 1929

Volume XCI Number 3

To enhance the competitiveness and profitability of Western Growers members

Dave Puglia President

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 Chardae Heim 949.885.2279 cheim@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


4 6

President’s Notes Director Profile

18 20 27 28 30 31 32 36 37

Science & Technology

Legislator Profile

Western Growers Assurance Trust Western Growers Financial Services California Government Affairs

Insurance Corner

Agriculture & the Law

Western Growers Connections

Contact Us

Western Grower & Shipper ISSN 0043-3799, Copyright © 2020 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 of Yearbook 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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Change is Upon Us; Change is Elusive

“Change is inevitable.” Like many clichés, this one suggests a certainty of outcome, but is it? Is change—in the aftermath of a historic global pandemic that took many thousands of lives and crashed a vibrant economy—really inevitable in all sectors of our society? We know with certainty that the COVID-19 pandemic will change our industry and many others in ways large and small, temporary and permanent. From agriculture to hospitality, tourism to sports, the ways in which we engage in society and interact with businesses will be fundamentally altered. Some changes will be unwelcome and difficult to mitigate. But many will be positive as the economic shutdown and the challenges of preventing the spread of this virus reveal practices and policies in need of disruption. Only by this crisis, for example, did we all master—via crash course—how to effectively use video conferencing technology without the assistance of our kids. Not at first, of course, but we adapted! Old ways of doing things and the inefficiencies hidden by them suddenly became visible as business models and consumer behavior collided in the wake of the economic shutdown. I believe our industry will be among the first and best at realizing new efficiencies and improved models across all manner of functions, from our fields, orchards and vineyards to our packing, processing and shipping facilities. And of course, in our offices, too. As hard as it was to suddenly adapt to the work-at-home guidance, the employees who serve within the Western Growers family of companies rose to the occasion and, along the way, we have been eager to reassess what we do and how we do it. For us, as an adaptive and entrepreneurial group of entities united behind one mission, this is the silver lining to the dark cloud of the pandemic. But back to the question: Is post-pandemic change really inevitable everywhere? What about the public sector? Will it also confront the policies, practices and philosophies that impact private sector companies generating the tax revenue? The postures of the federal and state governments have been varied and revealing when viewed through the lens of private enterprise. (Someone else can analyze the public health management of the federal and state governments.) The federal government moved quickly into financial relief mode, while the state of California, by Governor Gavin Newsom’s energetic use of his broad legal authority under the state’s emergency powers statute, spilled out a stream of executive orders ranging from an extended employer-paid sick leave for workers impacted

by COVID-19 (without a corresponding tax credit, as Congress enacted for the federal counterpart, to offset the cost) to emergency child care options for essential workers. Under the umbrella of the Governor’s actions, local public health officials and elected politicians responded with new local orders and decrees that caused confusion and, where they seemed arbitrary and capricious, resentment. Through the eyes of Western Growers members, we observed some local officials seemingly trying to one-up each other by decreeing increasingly strict (and illogical) mandates on businesses that clearly exceeded the more practical guidelines issued by Governor Newsom. To many in the private sector who are fighting to keep our businesses alive and our employees protected, there was a sense that some in government didn’t mind being the center of attention in their communities as they exercised their powers over the “the regulated community” (i.e., businesses and their employees) with an air of superiority. We, after all, are simply out to make a buck; they are dedicated to protecting public health, workers, the environment, etc. That is not to diminish the seriousness of the public health crisis nor to disparage the sense of partnership embraced by many county supervisors, agricultural commissioners and state-level officials who adhered to notions of pragmatism and cooperation. But across America, examples of government inflexibility, superiority and occasional hypocrisy undermined confidence in government. University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, writing in USA Today (April 21), helps us keep the current pandemic in perspective, however: “There really are two America’s here: Those still getting a paycheck from government, corporations or universities, and those who are unemployed, or seeing their small businesses suffer due to shutdowns.” We in agriculture are relatively fortunate; Americans will keep eating and our farmers are now, and will continue to be, the best at providing them the world’s most nutritious and healthy foods. The question remains, though. We know the private sector will change, but will governments? Those who were compelled by the immense economic destruction of the shutdown to quickly adapt, to challenge and change established thinking, roles and processes, should insist on a similarly difficult introspection and reform by our fellow citizens serving in government whose economic livelihoods were never at risk during this national emergency.


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Eric Reiter Vice President, California Operations Reiter Affiliated Companies LLC Oxnard, CA

Member Since 1972 | Director Since 2019 Groomed for Berries

The Background: Eric Reiter grew up in Santa Barbara, a short drive to the headquarters of Reiter Affiliated Companies LLC (RAC), in Oxnard, CA. As the eldest offspring of the fifth generation of his family to be in California agriculture, it is fair to say he was groomed for his position. In fact, the family company has a well- defined policy in place to bring the future generations into the business. But that wasn’t top of mind as young Eric grew up in Santa Barbara, the beautiful city that hugs the California coast. He calls his childhood “pretty uneventful” adding that Santa Barbara was a great town as he loved all ocean sports, including surfing and sailing. In fact, he sailed through high school and again in college at the University of Southern California. He loved the ocean so much that while in high school, he was considering majoring in marine biology and pursuing a career in that discipline.

However, a tour of USC convinced Eric that was the school for him, and it had no marine biology program. “I majored in business…figuring that would be a good background to have.” While Eric does not remember spending a ton of time on the farm as a kid, it was a constant presence. “When we were young, we would go down to the ranch on Saturdays with Dad (Garland Reiter) and we had summer jobs on the farm,” he said of himself and his siblings. In high school, he recalls being involved in a flavor testing project in the company lab. “I used to drive down there after school,” he remembers. While in college, the young Reiter did gain a healthy respect for the business his father, uncle (Miles Reiter) and ancestors had built, and did begin to point his career aspirations in that direction. Company Background: The Reiter family traces its agricultural roots to the latter half of the 19 th Century with farming operations on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, south of the city. By the early 1900s, the Reiters had moved south to Watsonville and the Santa Clara Valley. It was there that Ed Reiter and Dick Driscoll began growing strawberries together and marketing them under the Driscoll Strawberries Associates label. More than a century later, the two operations are intricately intertwined (though they are separate companies) with Reiter Affiliated Companies being Driscoll’s, and the world’s, largest berry producer. The Reiter family name has long been affiliated with Driscoll’s Inc. (as it is now named) as Miles Reiter has served as chairman of the board for three decades as well as CEO for most of that time. Other members of the family also sit on the Driscoll’s board. Eric Reiter’s Journey: Both RAC and Driscoll’s have a policy in place outlining the path family members must


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take to move into management roles. It requires varied experiences, including two years working outside of the company for an unaffiliated firm. While in college, Eric spent a summer in Mexico and another in Spain working in berry production. Upon graduation, he took a year off and sailed the family’s 56-foot sailboat down the coast of Mexico and Central America and across to New Zealand. Running aground in Fiji was among the more harrowing experiences. He also recalls being boarded in Panama by armed men. “We thought we were being pirated but they just asked us some questions and left.” Back in California and ready to start his berry career in earnest in early 2008, Garland suggested that his son become involved in the company’s new philanthropy project. But Eric rejected that idea. “I told him I wanted to learn how the company makes money before being involved in giving it away.” So Eric was sent to Central Mexico, near Guadalajara, where he invested in an eight acre plot of raspberries to learn about the berry business from the ground up. “I learned a lot,” he said of his year in Mexico. “I also greatly improved my Spanish and gained appreciation for the people of Mexico and how they live their lives. It’s a better pace of life. They take time to create relationship; it’s less about getting things done.” After his year in Mexico, Reiter moved to Santa Maria and farmed 60 acres of strawberries for two years. That was another great learning experience in running crews and moving a lot more volume through the system on a daily basis. He also learned that making a profit wasn’t that easy. “I made more money on the eight acres of raspberries in Mexico than I made on the 60 acres of strawberries in Santa Maria,” he joked, partly blaming his father for that outcome. “Dad had a lot of ideas that he wanted to test out but couldn’t get other growers to do it. My farm became his giant test plot.” They experimented with many things including machine harvesting, longer rows and pay incentives for workers based on the quality of berry that was picked. “There were a lot of little things we learned from those experiences,” he said, indicating that among the learnings was what not to do. Reiter’s next stop was across the country as he spent his two years of outside work at Wegmans Food Markets in upstate New York. He worked both in-store and in the corporate office during that stint, learning

a lot about retailing, category management, the company’s extensive training program, and, unfortunately, how to respond to a major produce product recall. When he came back to the West Coast, Eric went through the same process that has been laid out for other family members—a review and discussion of what management positions were open at either RAC or Driscoll’s for which he might qualify. While he likes the marketing end of the business and believes it might hold his interest at some point in his career, Eric also loves the supply side and that’s where he has been operating for the last half dozen years. He is involved in all of RAC’s growing operations in California developing the strategic plan that creates the optimum amount of each berry variety on a daily basis. The Future: Both RAC and Driscoll’s have together, and separately, developed berry opportunities all over the world. The two companies have growing operations in California, Florida, Mexico, Portugal, Morocco, and China, which is the newest player in their game. Eric believes California will always be a major part of the RAC/Driscoll game plan, but he notes that it is challenging to do business in the state and that other regions are increasingly being relied upon for growth. He said the company is very bullish on China, both for its potential as supplier and consumer of berries. “We think China and these other regions will be our growth engine.” He said that Driscoll’s and RAC are currently growing all four berries (raspberry, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries) in China using the shared-concept with local growers that it pioneered in Mexico. The program involves a shared investment that allows growers to expand their operations with investments from Reiter and Driscoll’s. The WG Connection: Before Eric, both his uncle and father served on the Western Growers Board of Directors, which is how the young Reiter became acquainted with the organization. His formal introduction was as a member of the association’s Future Volunteer Leaders Program several years ago. “That was a great experience,” he said. “I got to meet board members and create a relationship with others in the industry, some of whom have become board members themselves. I also got to meet and know the staff. Karen (Timmins) and Cory (Lunde) put on an awesome program.”


RYAN TALLEY, Chairman ALBERT KECK, Senior Vice Chair STUART WOOLF, Vice Chair CAROL CHANDLER, Treasurer VICTOR SMITH, Executive Secretary DAVE PUGLIA, President DIRECTORS – 2020 GEORGE J. ADAM Innovative Produce, Santa Maria, California ALEXANDRA ALLEN Main Street Produce, Santa Maria, California KEVIN S. ANDREW Vanguard International, 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 GEORGE BOSKOVICH III Boskovich Farms, Oxnard, California NEILL CALLIS Turlock Fruit Company, Turlock, California DON CAMERON Terranova Ranch, Helm, California EDWIN A. CAMP D. M. Camp & Sons, Bakersfield, California CAROL CHANDLER Chandler Farms LP, Selma, California LAWRENCE W. 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 FRANZ W. DE KLOTZ Richard Bagdasarian Inc., Mecca, 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 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 TOMMULHOLLAND 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 KELLY STRICKLAND Five Crowns, Inc., Brawley, California 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


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THE WGCIT TURNS 5: A Look Back At Its First Years

By Stephanie Metzinger I t’s been nearly five years since Western Growers shook the future of farming as it set out to open one of the first agricultural technology centers in the United States. December 10, 2015, marked an important moment in agtech history as the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) became the only technology center in Monterey County aimed at bringing innovative entrepreneurs together with farmers to facilitate creative solutions to the biggest challenges facing agriculture. “Salinas is the salad bowl of the United States, and its proximity to Silicon Valley and the Bay Area makes the region ideal for cross-pollination between the ag and tech sectors,” said Tom Nassif, former president and CEO of Western Growers. Nassif launched the Center under his regime. “This city provides, both figuratively and literally, the fertile ground technology companies need to connect with farmers

and perfect their innovative solutions to the biggest challenges facing the ag industry,” Nassif said at the time. Since first opening its doors with just six start-up companies, the WGCIT has housed more than 75 companies all striving to develop cutting-edge technologies that will benefit fresh produce farmers and the specialty crop industry as a whole. Today, the center houses 50 companies working on everything from mechanization and irrigation management to food traceability and precision agriculture. “We are so much more than just an incubator and accelerator,” said Dennis Donohue, director of the WGCIT. “Being a tech center, we are in the unique position of representing a cross-collection of folks—those who build the technology, invest in the technology and ultimately buy the technology.” Over the past five years, the WGCIT has ushered in a new, more intimate

agtech experience and has arrived at the point where it has become a recognized international leader in specialty crop innovation and technology. Below tracks the evolution of the WGCIT. 2015 Grand Opening: The WGCIT officially opened its doors, providing start-up companies with access to hot desks/ work stations, amenities of a traditional office and regular programming— classes, workshops and networking events—designed to provide them with the business knowledge and customer relationships they need to successfully bring their technologies to market. Forbes AgTech Summit: Forbes Media hosted its first AgTech Summit in Salinas Valley, where Western Growers was a strategic partner and has been every year since. The summit, which features the WG Innovation Showcase, was among the first efforts in WG’s major initiative to speed innovation that solves problems for our members. 2016 WGCIT Scholarship Program: With funding from Wells Fargo, the Western Growers Foundation established a scholarship fund for agtech startups. The WGCIT Scholarship Program is arguably the first scholarship program of its kind providing the winner with residence at one of the country’s premier agtech incubators. To date, 20 scholarships have been awarded. 2017 First Exit: Trace Genomics becomes the first startup to successfully exit out of the WGCIT, launching the first scalable soil microbiome test to enable the early prediction of soil diseases, soil health and crop quality. They were followed by

WGCIT launched AgTechx to bring technologies to key agriculture production areas.


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HeavyConnect, TracMap, and Tailwater Systems who “exited” the WGCIT in 2019. Though all four startups grew large enough to expand their operations out of the Center, they are still involved in many WG and WGCIT happenings. AgSharks: WG partnered with S2G Ventures (Seed 2 Growth) to launch a groundbreaking initiative to identify key innovations in the fresh produce industry, called the AgSharks® Competition. AgSharks is a live event, hosted at the WG Annual Meeting, where start-up companies compete for equity investments totaling up to $250,000 to support the development and growth of their businesses, as well as for farm acreage to pilot their technologies. To date, a total of $3 million has been awarded to four startups (Hazel Technologies, AgVoice, Augean Robotics and mobius pbc). 2018 AgTechx: As part of the WG’s key focus to bringing agricultural technologies to farmers, the Center created AgTechx—signature events where growers, researchers, technologists and entrepreneurs gather in key agricultural production areas for riveting discussions about future farming technology. The first AgTechx event launched in Brawley on February 8, 2018, and has since been held in Reedley, Coalinga, Delano, Sacramento and King City. In total, more than 1,000 people have attended the AgTechx events. 2019 Automation Initiative: WG officially launched its Automation Initiative— an industry-led initiative designed to accelerate field automation progress with a primary focus on field harvesting. WG/WGCIT gathers growers, agtech entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and leaders from technology companies to collaborate on strategies and tactics, as well as create a roadmap, to make the integration of automation more accessible to farms of all sizes and crops. Grower Trial Network: WGCIT kicked off the first meeting for its Grower Trial Network—an organized group of WG members who trial and evaluate technology coming out of the WGCIT. The group, which is led by Future Volunteer Leaders and supported by WG board members and the Center’s sponsors, holds its annual strategic planning session at Harris Ranch, where they discuss how to

Concentric Power's cogeneration plant will help Taylor Farms generate onsite electric power for low temperature refrigeration, producing an annual energy offset of 64 percent.

further accelerate the development and availability of technology that will enhance the competitiveness and profitability of the specialty crop sector. Voices of the Valley Podcast: WG created its first podcast: ‘Voices of the Valley.’ The podcast features WGCIT Director Dennis Donohue, as he interviews leaders in agricultural technology and innovation on new solutions for today and tomorrow’s

challenges. The podcast currently has 60 episodes and has been downloaded more

than 6,500 times. 2020 and Beyond

In addition to developing and enhancing ongoing agtech initiatives, the WGCIT looks to further establish itself as a global stop in the agtech world. “We have succeeded in becoming a


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destination for innovation on a global level,” said Donohue. He notes that when international consulates and organizations visit Salinas they request to see the WGCIT to learn what technologies are coming out of the Center and what initiatives are being developed. “We’ve already formed strategic partnerships with New Zealand, the Netherlands and most recently Canada,” said Donohue. “As we continue to advance the development of solutions and adaptations for our members, we’re evolving into a tech center that is a key player in the global agtech ecosystem.” On a more local level, the Center will continue to act as a “concierge” service, connecting WG members with WGCIT startups who are developing technologies that directly meet their specific farm and commodity needs. “We know who all the players are, so we are able to fill the gaps and be the direct line between innovators and growers—all with the hopes of rapid commercialization,” said Donohue. Numerous startups have grown and flourished through their involvement with the Center, including Concentric Power, which built a cogeneration system for Taylor Farms and True Leaf Farms; Concept Clean Energy, which recently completed a solar trial at Huntington Farms; and FarmWise, which just raised $14.5 million to continue development of its autonomous weeding vehicle. Additionally, many of the startups that more recently joined the Center are moving and shaking, building both their technologies and teams. Among them are AgTools, which will use its recently awarded $200,000 from the San Diego Angel Conference 2020 to further enhance their tool that aggregates

immense amounts of data and simplifies it down to key factors to improve decision-making for farmers, suppliers and buyers; Naio Technologies and Tensorfield Agricluture, two companies now working with WG growers to perfect their autonomous weeders; and Germany-based Novihum, which is successfully growing its team in Salinas and breaching the California market with its revolutionary soil enhancers. To assist startups, as well as WG members, in building their workforce, the WGCIT also plans to invest in becoming a career- advancement learning center. The Center has plans to serve as an “agtech academy” where students and ag industry employees will learn how to use emerging technologies to advance agriculture through hands-on learning modules, real-world demonstrations and educational programs. “The future of agriculture is becoming increasingly technical and the agriculture workforce is not keeping pace with the technological developments of the industrial world,” said Donohue. “The key to rapid adoption is upgrading the skills of the current and future workforce on the farm. We, as a tech center, will make that education a necessity.” The original vision of the WGCIT serving as a hub for the accelerated development and rapid deployment of innovative solutions to help farmers feed more people with fewer inputs still hold true today. Over these past five years, the Center has incrementally evolved and will continue to expand its offerings to further transform the agtech space in both the United States and around the world.

TheWGCIT hosts networking events throughout the year where innovators can collaborate with growers.


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Women on the Front Lines of Leadership at Booth Ranches

By Stephanie Metzinger T he world is currently facing a employee. It is during these high stress situations that a company’s workforce either flourishes or falters. Luckily for Loren Booth, she had the right players in place before coronavirus infiltrated the world. These employees are leading the charge in adapting the company’s protocols to prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Among them, many are women. “It’s interesting how different people act and communicate during hard times,” said Booth, president/owner of Booth Ranches. “At Booth Ranches, we value people who are forward thinkers and good team players. The ones who show up, step up and volunteer to solve issues when they arise. This crisis has brought to light the employees who are there to find solutions.” When most Americans were gearing up to “shelter in place,” Booth tasked her staff with flipping typical contact- heavy activities into “social distanced” possibilities. This would allow Booth Ranches to continue to provide safe and nutritious citrus varieties for the nation, while keeping the farm’s 600 workers safe. Stacy Thompsen, who leads the IT pandemic that has severely shaken every industry, company and Department for Booth Ranches, stepped up to the plate. Thompson and her team of three rolled up their sleeves to help all employees rapidly and efficiently transition from an in-person office setting to a work-from-home model. Though Booth Ranches was an early adopter of going paperless, Thompson expedited the process throughout the entire organization within weeks in an effort to maximize social distancing and prevent any spread of the virus. “When truck drivers arrive, they hand us a piece of paper. When bins leave the field or packing house, there is an exchange of paper. There’s paper involved in many aspects of farming, and Stacy quickly figured out how to make it all

paperless,” said Booth. In addition to helping the company still run like a well-oiled machine during the pandemic, the commitment of Booth’s leadership team to the employees is unmatched. Alex Rios, the human

resources manager at Booth Ranches, works 13-hour days to ensure that the needs of all employees—from the field to sales to the packinghouse—are met, while the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) vigorously fought to overcome COVID-19


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advocate for the agriculture industry as well as a driving force within their own organization. Similarly, Booth Ranches has a well- established internship program that often hires interns as employees. Booth remarks how her pest department’s most recent hire, Georgina Reyes, worked three summers at Booth Ranches while attending Fresno State and today, she is in charge of maintaining a majority of the north region of the Booth Ranches properties. She joins Kaycee Reeves as the second female Agricultural Pest Control Advisor for the farm. “The fact that we have two women PCAs is quite unusual in the agriculture industry. To add to that, we have Tracy who leads our sales department. I don’t know many organizations in California where their head of sales is a woman,” said Booth. Booth notes how establishing a strong female presence among the executive team and throughout the organization was unintentional, however, incredibly beneficial. She is proud to oversee and be part of a company that has broken the mold of the typical male-dominated agriculture industry. “We have not only been open to hiring women, but we have been successful at it. I encourage more companies to do it,” said Booth. “A shout out to the men that work for us, too. No matter what the gender, we have a terrific team.” Today, women comprise a substantial percentage of Booth Ranches’ full-time workforce.

just to be part of the effort to feed the world. Teresa Barone, who Booth recently hired to serve as CFO, contracted and beat COVID-19. While battling the virus, Barone insisted on working from home and as soon as she fully recovered she was back in the office to support the industry. “I suggested a slow transition back but Teresa is tough and couldn’t wait to get back to the office. She’s the kind of leader who is not afraid to jump in, take chances and ask, ‘What are we going to do about this?’” said Booth. “Women are strong and they get it done.” In addition to hiring women to fill executive level positions, Booth Ranches makes it a priority to identify and develop future leaders within the company. Tracy Jones joined the farm in 2009 and worked her way up the ranks to now serve as the vice president of sales and marketing. Similarly, Moniza Zaragoza came to Booth Ranches through USA Staffing— the staffing organization that supplies workers for the farm’s two packing plants. After years of continually stepping up and identifying innovative solutions to improve efficiency in the packing house, Zaragoza was hired by Booth to be a lead at Booth Ranches Plant 2. “I love to hire from within and see people grow like a dandelion. It’s my favorite part of the business,” said Booth. Booth has developed a culture of growth, where employees are supported in their pursuit of a higher education and have ample opportunities to participate in professional development activities. Since taking her entire farming operation

in-house in the year 2000, Booth has sponsored numerous children of employees in their quest to receive a university degree. Additionally, in an effort to promote personal and professional growth, she hosts workshops and sends employees to classes where they can learn additional skills and enhance their knowledge. She also encourages her staff to apply for opportunities such as the California Agricultural Leadership Program to gain the training needed to be an effective

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Fieldin: Real-Time Spray Tech Startup Started by Growers for Growers

By Cory Lunde and Stephanie Metzinger W hen Boaz Bachar and Iftach Birger founded Fieldin in Israel seven years ago, the millions of dollars they saved growers in pest management in such a short amount of time was impressive. The start-up company has now brought its smart sprayer to the California market to help Western Growers members and the specialty crop industry achieve the same results. Western Grower & Shipper recently had the opportunity to discuss sensors and smart farm platforms with Fieldin, a resident of Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology. Bachar, Fieldin’s CEO and co-founder, shared his insights on how his startup’s technology can improve visibility in field operations such as harvesting, spraying and other mechanical cultural practices. Western Grower & Shipper: What agricultural problem does your technology solve? Boaz Bachar: In commercial agriculture, there is a lack of remote visibility in terms of field operations. This is especially true with particularly the specialty crop markets. For example, we have growers who can have dozens of machines and rigs running at the same time, across multiple locations and spread out all over the state. They have to manage all of that equipment and all of the operators, while ensuring they’re being as efficient as possible. Growers need actionable data

and they need it in real-time. That’s what Fieldin’s Smart Farm Control Center gives to our growers—the ability to manage all of their operations remotely, in real-time. WG&S: Can you share more about what your technology offers? Our mission is to help improve field operations with actionable insights. Fieldin’s sensors and smart farm platform allow growers to remotely manage and monitor field operations in real-time, giving managers actionable data that improves efficiencies during spraying, harvesting and other cultural practices. WG&S: What are the core values of your company? BB: Fieldin is a company started by growers for growers. Iftach Birger, my co-founder and Fieldin’s COO, was born and raised on a three-generation farm in Israel where he grew olives, almonds and wine grapes, and I married into a family of avocado growers. As growers, we understand the importance of developing a solution tailor-made for farmers. Our goal has always been to work as close as possible with our growers and provide them value. We make it a priority to assist with whatever we can in the field to improve their bottom line. Whether we are making their harvest activities more efficient or ensuring that they’re applying chemicals in a manner that produces the most yield, we provide growers with a layer of data that optimizes operations and allows them to be as productive as possible all season long. WG&S: Describe some of the early challenges and successes your start-up company has experienced. BB: California agriculture is a lot more spread out and farms at a larger scale than the farms we first starting working with as a startup in Israel. Understanding this helped us realize how important it was to have boots on the ground. Today, we have a grower support team comprised of regional experts who work hand-in-hand with growers to train their staff. They also customize our reporting and alerts to meet the specific needs of each growers’ unique operation. Even in our current climate where many companies are cutting back their workforce, Fieldin continues to expand our grower support team. In agtech, you’re only as successful as your support team. And if you don’t support your growers and help mold your platform to their needs, you’re not going to see large-scale adoption of your technology.

Boaz Bachar speaking to the Fieldin team


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WG&S: What is your three-to five-year- plan? What does your company look like in 10 or 20 years? There’s some uncertainty with the economy right now, but Fieldin recently closed a major round of funding and our company is as strong as it has ever been. We currently work in specialty crops in California, Israel and Australia, and are expanding rapidly. We’re coming off our best quarter in company history, and we have emerged as the market leader in terms of remote farm management platforms for specialty crop growers. As far as in the United States, in the next three to five years, we see our smart farm services going beyond specialty crops in California and serving growers nationally. We will also be able to help out managers across the supply chain to improve transparency and operational efficiencies. We’re excited to see just how far we can take the company and provide additional value to the agriculture and food industry.

WG&S: Can you discuss examples of your technology in the field? Have you demonstrated any positive return on investment—or ROI? BB: During the almond harvest season this past fall in California, Fieldin’s Smart Farm Control Center helped a grower identify inefficiencies that reduced labor and harvest operation costs by more than 30 percent. Because of that quick ROI (in just two weeks in this example), customers are relying on Fieldin data to make operational decisions, make their schedules and cut back on rising costs such as chemicals and labor. WG&S: Tell us about your experience as a resident of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology. I can’t stress how important it is to have boots on the ground and partner with growers to determine their needs rather than push your technology on themwithout user feedback. Joining the Center three years ago has given us a better understanding of the vegetable market in the Salinas region and has helped us interface with more growers

and partners throughout the area. It’s also inspiring to see all of the great technology coming out of the Center. We feel it’s important to give back and help the industry and the next wave of startups as often as possible. We thank the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology for all of the support and innovation they’ve harnessed over the years! WG&S: Do you have anything else you would like to share with Western Growers members about your company? BB: In a recent survey with our customers, every respondent said we had made a significant difference on their operation over the past year. That’s a pretty powerful statement because your technology needs to not only be good, but it needs to show a clear and fast ROI for growers to adopt it—especially at the size and scale of the companies we’ve been fortunate to work with. It’s exciting to hear we’re making a difference on farm operations here in our own backyard!

Fieldin tracks data from an almond harvester, providing the grower with shake times, drive times, and more.


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Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

Best Practices to Build a Resilient Supply Chain During COVID-19

By Mark Petersen, Vice President of Temperature Controlled Transportation, C.H. Robinson D o you know how your supply chain will recover after the disruption of the COVID-19 health crisis has passed? There are several important steps you can take now to address this concern and be prepared for the future. Businesses that weather disruption the best take proactive and dynamic approaches to their supply chains. Successful businesses and supply chain leaders engage customers and suppliers early and often. They have open and transparent conversations about the steps they have taken to strengthen their supply chain responses, such as health and safety efforts and forecasting. Here are four best practices to increase the resiliency of your supply chain: 1. Hold regular supplier meetings : Gather produce, retail, food and beverage, and logistics and transportation suppliers together for reoccurring calls to discuss business continuity efforts and current needs. This is critical to support shippers today. Leverage these meetings and professional resources to create a foundation for the following best practices. 2. Plan for future demand : Determine now what indicators will best inform your demand forecast as product demand returns. Triangulate information such as complementary industries, proxy industries, or economic indicators that can provide demand-related insights earlier. Also, note the product itself. Product destined for foodservice or processing is generally a different grade and specification than what is expected for retail. This will be crucial to planning. When entering produce season, we could potentially see a higher level of demand for product destined for retail consumption. This is likely to be due to the impact of COVID-19 and the redistribution of demand and a higher percentage of consumption occurring in the home. This will lead to additional imbalances in what product is available to meet the demands of the consumers. 3. Bolster extended supply chain resiliency : Capture insights on supply node dependencies, gaps, and abilities for the

extended future. As demand returns, identify the capabilities and limitations of moving into a post COVID-19 environment which impact lead times. Keep in mind that as we see schools and restaurants reopening, it may be in a different way than before, at least for a while. 4. Create long-term transportation strategies : Modal networks are out of their optimized patterns, which means carriers may not be in locations they are used to being in or when they need to be. Pre-planning helps identify potential gaps in coverage. Predict how consumer demand changes could shift full truckload shipments into the LTL market, or vice versa. Temperature-controlled shipments could shift some volume from the LTL space to consolidation due to congestion from undelivered freight. Best in class shippers already leverage a broad portfolio of modes, in an effort to minimize disruption today and to plan for realignment challenges. Shippers should know there are options for freight to seamlessly shift across the modal portfolio. While the unprecedented daily challenges we face make post- COVID-19 predictions difficult, your business can take critical steps now that will ensure supply chain continuity during this crisis and into the future. C.H. Robinson’s business continuity plans ensure we can continue to operate during (or following) serious incidents or disasters. Our crisis management team has been closely monitoring COVID-19 and is taking steps to ensure the wellness and safety of our employees while we execute remote readiness plans. As COVID-19 continues to impact supply chains around the globe, we want to ensure our customers and contract carriers are prepared, and that we are able to serve them during this volatile market. In addition, you can rely on our temperature controlled experts with knowledge in key commodities to help you secure the right capacity to move your sensitive freight. To learn more, visit www.wga.com/logistics or www.chrobinson.com.


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Food Safety, Security, and Defense in a Pandemic Just a few months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. As of April 17, 2020, the virus had spread to 185 countries, infecting more than 2.2 million people worldwide. By the time you read this, those numbers will have increased even more. SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has disrupted our society, crashed economies, broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces around the world. A global pandemic of this scale did not come as a surprise

a risk management perspective to ensure production could continue even if one supply pipeline is substantially reduced or completely shuts down. In an April 17, 2020, Market Watch report, Mark Allen, chief executive of the International Foodservice Distributors Association, stated that the $3 billion foodservice industry had seen a decline of 60 to 90 percent due to COVID- 19. The reduced foodservice demand is a direct result of actions taken to mitigate this disease such as closures of restaurants and schools. Changing from producing and processing food items for foodservice clients to preparing food for retail sales has also been a difficult and long process for food producers and manufacturers. According to the 2015 article, “How Resilient is the United States’ Food System to Pandemics,” there are alarming gaps in preparedness, and the authors highlight the need to improve

for many health experts who have been saying that the United States was not prepared for a pandemic. Pandemics can have several impacts and test the resilience of not just the most modern heath care systems, but also of food supply chain systems. With globalization, the food supply chain has become very complex. The movement of food from farm to fork is not as simple as it once was. Every step in the food supply chain must function properly to maintain the system working well, otherwise the whole supply chain is affected. After the world first became aware of the full extent of the coronavirus situation in China, news reports focused on how the lack of exports from China was affecting businesses worldwide. When the outbreak in China became a pandemic, companies started focusing on supply chain diversity from

the resilience of our food system. Given that resilience refers to the ability to prepare for, withstand, and recover from a disruption or crisis—our food supply system is being tested. Using a system dynamics model to demonstrate the likely effects of a pandemic on the USA’s food system, a severe pandemic with greater than a 25 percent reduction in labor availability can create significant and widespread food shortages. At the time I am writing this article, no food shortages have been reported. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stated that the United States does not have a food shortage issue, but instead that it has a distribution and demand issue. However, the fact that most produce businesses are


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part of a global supply chain raises questions about the resilience of the food supply in the United States. To improve the resilience of the food supply, a comprehensive approach that addresses food safety, food defense and food security must be implemented. This starts with the ability to access sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet dietary needs and maintain a healthy lifestyle (Food Security) . Ironically, more and more food is being imported into the United States, challenging that ability. In addition, while a globalized food supply can bring new opportunities, it can also bring challenges related to the protection of food products from intentional contamination or adulteration (Food Defense) and from unintentional contamination (Food Safety). In order to implement a comprehensive approach that enhances the resilience of our food supply, future risk management planning should take into consideration food safety, security and defense scenarios to define the best practices moving forward. For instance, considering food safety: Workers’ health is a central part of every food safety program where practices are implemented to ensure workers do not contaminate food. However, most of us, did not fully consider the extra mitigation measures necessary to protect workers from infecting each other at such scale. While current hygiene practices—handwashing, cleaning and sanitation—support both food safety and workers’ safety, the produce industry has had to adjust to implement extra mitigation measures.

And what about food defense? Now, it may be easier to imagine potential large-scale threats that could significantly alter daily activities and people worldwide if they were applied to our food system. The lesson to note here is that situations derived from large-scale threats should be considered when conducting a vulnerability assessment and evaluation of a food defense plan, and food defense practices should be applied through the entire food supply chain. When it comes to food security, it is much easier to see how food availability and choice were affected by the pandemic. When countries started shutting their borders to prevent infected persons from entering, food imports and exports were also interrupted. Grocery stores that had long abandoned the practice of keeping large inventories in warehouse storage, scrambled to secure new shipments of shelf-stable and paper products. With the uncertainty around food availability, some produce companies experienced decreased sales as customers shifted purchases away from perishable fruits and vegetables to shelf-stable products. Ironically, they abandon what many scientists recognize as the best medicine in the world, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. What each company learns from this pandemic experience, and the changes that will be made going forward, may differ, but let’s use lessons learned to improve and strengthen our food supply chain. We should be taking a holistic approach that includes food safety, security and defense to be better prepared for the next unexpected event.

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