MA R C H | A P R I L 2 0 2 2

The Farmer’s Second Job: Being an Agricultural Advocate

Neill Callis Turlock Fruit Company

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10 Meet Your WG Women Ambassador – Sarah McClarty 12 The Farmer’s Second Job: Being an Agricultural Advocate 16 C.H. Robinson Predicts Supply Chain Pressures to Ease in 2022 20 Mental Health Awareness: A Community Approach is Vital to Saving Lives 37 AgTechX Events Advance Workforce Development and Food Safety Tech 40 ChysaLabs: Eliminating the Guesswork When it Comes to Soil Health 41 WGCIT Sponsor: Research & Innovation are at Bayer’s Core

DEPARTMENTS 4 President’s Notes

WESTERN GROWER & SHIPPER Published Since 1929 Volume XCIII | Number 2

6 Member Profile 22 Trade Practices 24 WG Member Welcome & Anniversaries 26 Science 28 Agriculture & the Law 30 California Government Affairs 32 Western Growers Assurance Trust 34 Western Growers Insurance Services 36 Innovation 42 Update from the WGCIT 44 Connections 45 Contact Us 46 Inside Western Growers

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 302.750.4662 | dana.davis@wga.com



Western Grower & Shipper ISSN 0043-3799, Copyright © 2022 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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A Resilient American Food System By Dave Puglia, President and CEO, Western Growers

Back in July 2020, I wrote in this column about the increasing use of the term “resilience” in water policy circles. Looking back at that column, I wondered if I had been a little snarky and dismissive. After all, we all want and need a water infrastructure and governing system that is, among other things, resilient. Especially as we endure the changing climate impacts on our snowpack throughout the West.

Then again, if one were to embark on a mission to fundamentally change the water policies that have enabled California and other Western states to grow and prosper over their history, asserting that those very systems—water infrastructure and governance— no longer provide resiliency would be a smart way to create broad acceptance of the need for reforms. Sure enough, calls to reform the state’s water rights and governance are bubbling to the surface. In a similar vein, it is impossible to miss in progressive circles a growing drumbeat to build “resiliency” in the nation’s food system. This began to become more apparent with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sudden shutdown of the foodservice sector. With restaurants, resorts, K-12 schools and college campuses suddenly closed, the normal flow of food to those outlets was largely stranded, especially in the early days. This caused a shock to our sensibilities. Americans have long been accustomed to a highly reliable, abundant and affordable supply of an amazing variety of foods at grocery stores, restaurants, schools, etc. My own experience during those first months of the pandemic shutdowns demonstrated a system that quickly adapted to the shock of the foodservice sector shutdown and realigned itself to the emerging demands of the pandemic-dominated marketplace. One reason is that we don’t have a monolithic “food system.” We rely on a huge network of diverse channels and people, guided by private sector actors, that are highly attuned to changing demands and capable of rapid adaptation. Perhaps not every grower and shipper would share that view but judging from the collective feedback and experiences of Western Growers members, our industry adapted quickly and well—and continues to as consumer demand evolves post-pandemic. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, an open- source journal featuring peer-reviewed research, posted a paper in September 2021 that left no real doubt about the authors’ prescription for food system resilience. With the headline, “Achieving Food System Resilience Requires Challenging Dominant Land Property Regimes,” the paper’s authors zeroed in on private property rights, stating: “[P]owerful actors in the food system attempt

to leverage legal and cultural norms of property to legitimize their control over the resources that drive agricultural production. Our formulation suggests that visions for food system ‘resilience’ must embrace the reform of property relations as much as it does diversified farming practices.” To a committed advocate of private property, enforceable contracts and the virtues of the free market, those words land with a disturbing thud. The voices seeking to alter private property rights and free market dynamics under the guise of food system resiliency do no favors for the many other serious people exploring notions of resilience for agriculture that are entirely appropriate and needed. For example, the effects of climate change are straining water storage, conveyance and governance systems throughout the American West. A new adaptive approach to water management is undeniably needed, and though we may find strong disagreement as to the how, having a shared understanding of the real risk to agriculture and ecosystems in the West can motivate all parties to work toward a new consensus that does in fact enhance resiliency in our domestic food production and ecosystem management. Similarly, a focus on the economic resilience of America’s food producers is entirely appropriate. How resilient can our farmers be when increasingly faced with rising input costs for labor, water, electricity and fuels, crop protection materials and other factors? With retail and foodservice companies having sourcing options in several countries, securing economic resiliency for American farmers should be the overriding imperative we all share. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization describes resilience as “the ability to prevent disasters and crises as well as to anticipate, absorb, accommodate or recover from them in a timely, efficient and sustainable manner.” Certainly, we can all learn from the COVID crisis to better anticipate and plan for future crises impacting American food production and supply chains. We will not, however, consent to attempts to redefine the very things that provide food system resilience— private property ownership, private investment and risk capital, and the forces of a free market—as vulnerabilities that demand “food system reform.”



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Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, California Member since 2019

Necessity Led to Founding of Organic Marketing Specialist

By Tim Linden Background : John and Cindy France were farmers in the San Joaquin Valley in the mid-1990s who were continually increasing their production of organic fruit crops. But they kept running into trouble marketing their output. “They had a number of bad experiences with other marketers,” said Scott Mabs, the company’s CEO. “They were struggling to find a company that could market organic fruit.” So, in 1998 the couple hired a salesman and started Homegrown Organic Farms to sell their own production. “Like many things, the company was born out of necessity,” Mabs said. Soon Homegrown also was selling the production of other organic growers in the area. “John had a simple philosophy,” said Mabs. “He told his fellow growers that he can’t change market conditions or whatever the realities are at a given time, but he would live by his motto of ‘no surprises.’ Transparency was the key.” The company slowly grew both by increasing its own acreage and representing more and more organic farmers up and down the West Coast.

Years of Exponential Growth : It was in 2007 that Mabs joined the team as Director of Sales and Marketing. He oversaw sales for about five years before being elevated to the CEO position in February 2013. Over time, the company has experienced excellent growth. “We are about four times the size, in terms of dollars, than we were when I started,” he said. Under Homegrown’s corporate structure, Agrivision, Inc., is the umbrella or parent company with several entities, including AgriCare Inc., which is a land and farm management company, and Homegrown Organic Farms, which is the sales and marketing arm of the operation. To quantify the size of the company, Mabs revealed that they farm more than 4,000 acres and he believes Agrivision is the largest organic permanent crop grower in the United States. Challenges Along the Way : During the first 10-12 years of its existence, Homegrown would take on most items, according to Mabs. If it was grown organically, the company would try to sell it. “We sold everything including organic lettuce, organic garlic



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and other organic vegetables. We soon discovered vegetables were not our knowledge base; our expertise was in fruit.” As Homegrown settled in to its second decade of existence, the company eliminated its vegetable production. Fruit-Forward Focus: With its focus clearly on fruit, the company honed its business structure. “One of our key decisions was to structure the company into two separate categories,” Mabs said. “We have the citrus and grape team and blueberry and treefruit team.” The CEO explained that it is difficult to be an expert if you wear too many hats. The two teams focus on their commodities and have become specialists. Mabs said the result has been unparalleled growth. The two categories represent many different organic options, including many grape and citrus varieties as well as a full array of stone fruits and fall fruits, with kiwifruit being its newest addition. Geographic Footprint and Growth: Homegrown was started as a California-centric grower shipper and that’s not changing. Almost all its production comes from California, but it has expanded into the Northwest for blueberries. Mabs said further geographic expansion is always on the table. “What has been most important to us as we have grown is to have the right partners,” he said. “That’s the same philosophy we have when we branch out. It is partnering with the right people that drives success and we will continue to look for opportunities in organic production.” While expanding sourcing is always of interest, Mabs said the company is also eyeing the other end of the spectrum and looking to grow sales. He said organic produce sales have grown tremendously over the last 20 years and it is difficult to maintain the same percentage of growth as the base increases. “The next big thing for organics is growth in the export market,” he said.

Above: Scott Mabs Below: Inside the packing house.



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California : California’s inherent advantages in producing crops must be weighed against some of the challenges that are inherent in a state that is also the nation’s population leader. “The ideal growing conditions in California are hard to beat,” said Mabs. “We live in one of the best places on the globe to grow produce. Just look around the country this week (early February) and you see the storms that are devastating the Southeast. That happens on a regular basis in that region. Even Texas had a devastating freeze last year. We just don’t have to put up with that.” But Mabs noted that lack of labor and water and an ever more-challenging regulatory environment are cause for pause. “Those issues are curtailing the ability for growth in California. California will continue to be a major producer of fresh produce, but I do worry about growth opportunities.” Planning for the Future : One way Homegrown Organic Farms and its Agrivision parent company are planning for the future is the recent change in corporate structure to an ESOP (an employee stock ownership plan). “That was a big move for us,” said Mabs. “It was a very strategic foundational move designed

to help us survive and move forward.” In today’s business environment, Mabs said there must be an exit strategy for the founders and owners. An ESOP allows the principals to sell the company to its employees. Of course, another option would be to sell out to a larger company but that is not what the founders wanted to do. “They did not want the company culture to change,” he said. The ESOP gives employees a stake in the operation and its success. He said it essentially functions as a retirement program, and is an excellent incentive to both retain employees and attract new ones. If the company performs well, the value of the holdings by each employee increases. Western Growers Involvement : Homegrown Organic Farms has long been a supporter of industry organizations, and has been actively involved in organic specific associations. Mabs said the attraction to Western Growers is fueled by its member services. “Western Growers is extremely strong in the member services it provides. The organization provides practical, real-life help in many different areas. The specific training and educational opportunities are great.”

WESTERN GROWERS OFFICERS – 2022 ALBERT KECK, Chairman STUART WOOLF, Senior Vice Chair ROB YRACEBURU, Vice Chair NEILL CALLIS, Treasurer DON CAMERON, Executive Secretary DAVE PUGLIA, President & CEO DIRECTORS – 2022 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 DON CAMERON Terranova Ranch, Inc., Helm, 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 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



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Sarah McClarty Chief Financial Officer, HMC Farms

Born into a farming family in the Central Valley, agriculture runs in Sarah McClarty’s blood. Sarah grew up helping out on her family farm, Gillette Citrus Co., and went on to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to pursue a degree in business, with a concentration in accounting. After graduation, she landed a position at accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in Orange County.

However, the pull to return to the agriculture industry proved too strong. She returned to the Central Valley and accepted the position as Corporate Controller at HMC Farms. Sarah, who has now been at HMC Farms for 18 years, serves as the farm’s Chief Financial Officer and handles everything from accounting/financial oversight and grower accounting to process development and strategic planning. “I find educating people on the business of being in agriculture very rewarding,” said Sarah. “Most people have no clue what it takes to be a ‘farmer’ these days and I feel like the more people who understand what ag is facing daily, the more likely it is we can make changes is this state and country.”

Journey with Sarah as she gives a sneak peek into her life.

“ I was a student of ballet for 15 years and dance taught me that the harder you work the more beauty you create. That’s something I’ll always hold onto. ”

“ Hands down, my most important job is being a Mom. Seeing the world through my kids’ eyes will never be taken for granted. ”

Sarah is among the first women to complete WG Women, a leadership program that provides pathways for women to achieve the highest levels of leadership within the agriculture industry.




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“ I was born into a family that has been farming citrus in California since 1887. From a very young age, I was taught that farming isn’t just a job; it is a way of life. ”

“ A passion project of mine has been helping to create a women’s group at HMC Farms. It’s meant to be inclusive of women that work across our entire organization and to encourage networking, team building and also volunteer opportunities. ”

“ My experience in WG Women has been phenomenal. I’ve gotten so much more out of the program than I ever expected. I’ve gained insight into so many facets of my work and personal life and built a network of women peers I never imagined possible. ”

“ Giving back to our community whenever and wherever we can is a priority I take very seriously. It’s amazing how much you get out of a volunteer experience when you are the one that is supposed to be giving. ”



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The Farmer’s Second Job: Being an Agricultural Advocate

By Stephanie Metzinger B eyond growing food that feeds the nation, farmers also are business owners, scientists, agronomists, entomologists, meteorologists, environmentalists and so much more. The “second job” that elevates above the rest, however, is being an advocate for the industry. Advocating for the future of farming (also known as “agvocacy”) and meeting with lawmakers to provide a first-hand account of how laws directly affect agricultural operations go hand-in-hand with being a farmer. “It is important to ‘humanize’ the issues,” said Colby Pereira, Vice President of Operations at Braga Fresh Family Farms. “At the end of the day we are farmers, but we are also human individuals and that can sometimes get lost in context as legislators and decision-makers are considering policy. It is important to contextualize the faces behind all ag production.”

For centuries, America’s food heroes have been on the frontlines of fighting for resources and support that will allow them to farm for years to come. This includes everything from urging lawmakers to pursue immigration reform to ensure a reliable source of labor, to pressing for a steady supply of water to allow crops to grow, and to battling restrictions on crop protection tools that hinder growers from protecting fruits and vegetables from pests and diseases. “Farmers, especially those of us in Western agriculture, have to be smarter about literally everything today than we had to 25 years ago,” said Neill Callis, General Manager at Turlock Fruit Company. “This includes everything from regulatory matters, water use, employee well-being, tax policy and commodity markets. You name it, and we have to be experts on it to remain viable. And that’s aside from the actual farming we do!”

Colby Pereira



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Whether it is partnering with advocacy- driven associations such as Western Growers (WG) or proactively creating deep relationships with lawmakers who represent the local region, today’s farmers are the heart of agvocacy. However, the current generation of farmers is aging. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average age of all U.S. farm producers in 2017 was 57.5 years—up 1.2 years from 2012. In California, the age of an average farmer has increased by five years compared to 20 years ago. As farmers retire, one question arises: who will pick up the “agvocacy baton” and continue to fight for the future of agriculture? The next generation will. In the past five years, the number of young farmers and agricultural champions who have stepped up to the plate to play ball in Washington, D.C., Phoenix and Sacramento has slowly increased. In that same timeframe, the industry has seen a significant shift in the composition of boards of directors for powerful advocacy commissions and associations. For example, Stephen Martori III was elected to the WG Board of Directors in 2017 following his participation in the association’s Future Volunteer Leaders (FVL)—a program that guides the next generation of leaders to become more informed and effective advocates for the fresh produce industry. FVL graduates Neill Callis of Turlock Fruit Company Inc., Brandon Grimm of Grimmway Farms, Alex Muller of Pasquinelli Produce Company, J.P. LaBrucherie of LaBrucherie Produce, Eric Reiter of Reiter Affiliated Companies, and Kelly Strickland of Five Crowns Marketing soon followed, and now 16 percent of WG’s board is comprised of next-generation farmers. “If we’re not in legislative offices making our case for our industry, you can be absolutely sure someone else will be in there making their case against us,” said Callis. “It’s not a level playing field, and it’s not a guarantee of political success. But we can’t help the industry by staying on the sidelines pouting. We have to roll up our sleeves and participate in the broader political process at the local, state and federal levels.” Callis first cut his teeth on advocacy during his 17-year career at NASA when he joined several colleagues from the NASA Ames Research Center on a “Space Day” visit to legislators in Sacramento to

highlight and promote the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM) education. Since then, he has joined WG’s Board—where he has made the case for national legislators to support R&D funding for agtech—and regularly hosts legislative farm tours. “One of my favorite farm tours was when our friend Joe Del Bosque brought then California Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olson and California Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins to tour our asparagus operation,” he said. “Having the chance to spend a few minutes with them helped make the case that farmers are generally political centrists who want a ‘win-win-win’ scenario—a win for our businesses, our employees and their families, and our communities.” Beyond WG, up-and-coming agricultural leaders are taking center stage in organizations across the industry. More than half of the California Avocado Commission’s 19-member board are next-generation producers. Government relations organizations, such as California Fresh Fruit Association and California Citrus Mutual, recently elected presidents under the age of 45. Young movers and shakers, like Colby Pereira, sit on numerous boards simultaneously to ensure that decision-makers hear the voice of farmers. “It’s all about relationships, and I found that developing those relationships is key

in making the advocacy part come easy. Behind every elected official is a human being, just as behind every farmer is a human being. When you have a mutual understanding that two human beings can come together to discuss issues, with the goal of finding common ground, the discussion seems to flow quite smoothly,” Pereira said. A powerful 21 st century tool that Pereira has used to engage with broad audiences on the current state of the industry has been social media and digital platforms. For example, to bypass the challenges that COVID-19 posed with in-person meetings, Pereira has led the charge at Braga Fresh in leveraging technology to hold virtual tours. Last year, she hosted the California Senate COVID-19 Response Committee for a virtual session where she was able to share how Braga Fresh had responded to COVID-19 as well as share many of the processes the farm had developed for its team and worksites. “One of the best ways to support advocacy efforts is to keep an open-door policy and invite guests to visit, both in-person and virtually, to see what we do on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “The more that we are able to connect the ‘face(s) behind the food,’ the bigger platform we will have for ag.” The clever incorporation of technology is just one of the modern techniques

Neill Callis (right) with U.S. Representative Josh Harder (middle) and fellow WG Board Member Ron Ratto (left) during the WG D.C. Fly-In in 2019



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Neill Callis

that the next generation is adding to the agvocacy toolbox. Ag producers have also tapped podcasts to relay messages from the farm. In just the last three years, podcast listeners increased by 29.5 percent; farmers including both Callis and Pereira have utilized this audio boom to get their messages out to policymakers as well as the general public by being featured in episodes on several podcasts. As the onslaught of regulations facing farmers shows no signs of slowing down, the next generation’s passion for joining the agvocacy ranks will be key in the fight for agriculture. “Having a voice in the fight for ag and being involved every step of the way is a philosophical matter of defending our country’s founding heritage: farming. Pure and simple,” said Callis.

Colby Pereira hosting a field tour for California State Senator Anna Caballero and California State Assemblymember Robert Rivas



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C.H. Robinson Predicts Supply Chain Pressures to Ease in 2022

By Tim Linden T here is not a quick nor easy fix, but a trio of executives from C.H. Robinson recently predicted that the supply chain issues that have plagued the nation during the pandemic will ease some in 2022, especially in the latter half of the year. The CHR experts—Steve Raetz, Director of Research and Market Intelligence; Christina Carroll, Vice President of LTL; and Alan Rowlett, Director of Global Operations—spoke during an hour-long webinar hosted by the company in early February. Raetz discussed the view from the 40,000-foot level and also covered domestic long-haul trucking, while Carroll addressed the situation for LTL (less than full loads), and Rowlett focused on overseas shipments via air and container ship.

Raetz said the good news is that the much-publicized shortage of drivers does appear to be easing. He noted that recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that December of 2021 had about 10,500 more trucking jobs than December of 2019. He explained that these statistics seem to show that the “trucking labor gap is in the rearview mirror.” (2021 was compared to 2019 rather than 2020 because the first year of the pandemic has proven to be a statistical anomaly and often data analysts are skipping it when making comparisons.) Raetz said carriers, who have been focusing on attracting labor to the space, apparently have been successful, although it has come at a financial cost. Compensation for truckers has increased significantly. In fact, he said the carrier KLLM has reported



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in freight pricing is, of course, demand. Raetz said that experts have estimated a three to four percent increase in truckload volume in 2022. “Another year of pretty good growth,” he observed. “We will have freight demand still in the marketplace if these forecasts are accurate.” He said this growth in volume will continue to create a tension on supply and keep truck rates high. Raetz said the truckload pricing forecast estimates a six percent year-over-year growth in 2022. The good news is that this is significantly less than the rate increases of the past two years. Rates in 2021 were 35 percent greater than in 2020. The less-than-stellar news is that in December the experts estimated truck rates would increase four percent. In just two months, that forecast has gone up 50 percent to six percent. Raetz warned that it still may be too low. The report about LTL service is not as relevant to produce hauls as the “driver” in that sector is often related to e-commerce and the package delivery process. For the most part, these are short distance or station to station hauls. This sector has dominated the increase in truck driver jobs, and it is most relevant to perishable cross-country hauling in that these employers can offer lifestyle benefits that truckers say they want—such as shorter hauls and less time away from home. These are advantages that local produce route haulers can compete against but not coast-to-coast carriers or shippers. While the produce industry is largely dependent upon independent owner-operators who specialize in cross-country

having to give rookie drivers 30 percent more than their new hires were receiving in 2019. The CHR executive added that the short-haul jobs are coming back at a much higher clip than the cross-country driving positions. In fact, he said the average length of haul was only 490 miles in Q3 of 2021 compared to 528 miles a year earlier. Raetz said the length of haul has been dropping for years as it was about 800 miles 20 years ago. Nonetheless, the 38-mile year-over-year drop was an unusually large decrease. The drop in length of haul over the past 20 years is mostly the result of supply chain redesigns, but the one-year seven percent drop shows that carriers are focusing on this driver lifestyle issue. Being away from home for days at a time has long been one of the major drawbacks of long-haul trucking. Unfortunately, is a very important and inescapable factor in a significant share of produce hauling. As far as equipment is concerned, Raetz said there is expected to be about a three percent growth in tractors in 2022 and a 12 percent growth in trailers. Chassis, which are used to haul sea containers and other similar equipment, have been in a demand exceeds supply situation, which is one of the elements causing delays at the ports. Raetz said one major chassis manufacturer is bringing a new plant on board late in 2022, which he called a good sign and points to continued investment in the sector. From that same overview perch, he said pricing of transportation is expected to continue to increase beyond historical norms through most of 2022. One of the major factors



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driving, that is an aging population and younger drivers seemingly have options they like better. Carroll did report that the DRIVE Safe Act, which is designed to implement an apprentice program for drivers under the age of 21, has begun a three-year pilot program. The pilot program is available for 15,000 young drivers. If it is successful, it could open the door to a career as a truck driver for these potential employees before they head down another career path. Discussing the ports and global freight situation, Rowlett revealed that, in 2021, the volume coming into the country through the top 10 U.S. ports was up 20 percent, which was a major cause of the port congestion. However, he said in the latter part of the year, volume actually dropped in some ports, such as Long Beach- Los Angeles, while it increased at some of the country’s smaller ports. That shifting created a reallocation of assets, such as chassis. Consequently, Rowlett said some of the current congestion at the larger ports is related to the lack of equipment on shore rather than the number of container ships waiting outside the harbor to unload. However, he said working through the logjam is a time-consuming process. Rowlett told the internet audience that it appears there will be little port relief in 2022. One reason is the labor situation at the ports, which remains understaffed. The coronavirus created shortages and Rowlett said “ocean front labor remains volatile…remains strained.” He added that 2022 could bring another challenge as the International Longshore &Warehouse Union contrct withWest Coast employers expires on July 1 of this year. The ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association have a history of contentious negotiations with lockouts and strikes, and there is no reason to suspect that agreeing to a contract will be any easier this time around. And one could certainly argue that the chronically congested ports will add another difficult dimension to the discussions.

Rowlett said no new capacity is expected in the ocean transportation sector with rates remaining flat or increasing only slightly. The CHR expert touched on air freight only lightly as it is not expected to play an important role in 2022. He said that for the most part airliners are not expecting passenger travel to return to pre-pandemic levels this year. It is passenger planes that account for much of air cargo space and while air travel remains underused, compared to pre-pandemic times, cargo capacity will also be at the low end of the spectrum. The speakers did discuss the Canadian trucking issue and the potential for that spilling over to the United States. For the past several weeks, Canadian truckers have been protesting Canada’s vaccine mandate, which requires cross-border truckers to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. U.S. regulators enacted a similar rule in January for U.S.-based truckers. Raetz said the “foundational attributes” of the Canadian and U.S. trucking industries are dissimilar so he does not believe similar protests will erupt in the United States. He noted that cross-border traffic is a very significant factor for Canadian truck drivers as 80 percent of that volume is carried by Canadian-flagged trucks, which amounts to a sizeable portion of Canada’s truck traffic. On the other hand, cross-border traffic is only a small portion of the volume carried by U.S. truck drivers who have many other options. The speakers only spent a few minutes discussing strategies companies impacted by the logistics issues might employ. Concerning long haul loads, Raetz suggested utilizing digitally- enabled spot market services, be open to diversified modes and focus on building strong relationships with carriers. For container traffic, a similar strategy was suggested: build strong relationships with carriers, maximize container capacity and be flexible in considering different options.



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Slow Ride. Make it Easy.

Reduce crop and root damage with high-crop axle clearance. Travel as slow as you need with a creeper transmission in a tractor that’s easy for any operator to use. The John Deere 6120EH High-Crop Tractor is your complete solution. Clear your crop in comfort with the John Deere 6155MH High-Crop Tractor. You’ll get the crop clearance you need in a comfortable, customizable cab. Whether you’re a sugar cane or high-value crop producer the 6155MH gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Learn more at JohnDeere.com/Specialty or contact your John Deere dealer.



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MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS: A Community Approach is Vital to Saving Lives A recent study revealed that an encompassing perspective that includes individual, familial and societal factors is needed to address the increasing number of deaths by suicide in farmers.

By Ann Donahue T he numbers are heartbreaking. In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report revealing that farmers and ranchers die by suicide at nearly three times the national rate. The issue is troubling, and pressures are increasing; National Public Radio (NPR) reports that research in Australia and India link climate change to significantly higher suicide risk for farmers. What can be done? A 2021 study by the National Institutes of Health examined how demographic, relationship, mental health and life stressors are associated with suicide among older male farmers. Researchers Kyle L. Bower and Kerstin Gerst Emerson of the University of Georgia Department of Human Development and Family The Central Valley Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 1-888-506-5991 . Staffed by crisis counselors and volunteers, the hotline serves those in Fresno, Madera, Merced, Mariposa and Stanislaus counties and offers immediate support for the caller in crisis or for family and friends who are fearful that a loved one may be suicidal. It is operated by the Kings View Behavioral Health System. At its launch in 2013, Morrissa Holzman, director of the program, discussed the importance of volunteers from the community. “Most suicide hotlines rely on a robust volunteer base. We have an extensive and ongoing training program and internship for all of our telephone responders,” she said. “Our volunteers come from many walks of life, live in the communities we serve, and want to make a difference.” To volunteer, please call (559) 256-7678.

Science and Institute of Gerontology found that depression was more prevalent among farmers older than 65. And those who contemplated suicide were significantly more likely to report physical health problems. It is not a simple problem, nor is there one simple answer. But a treatment perspective that accounts for how individuals interact with their community is key, the researchers found. They concluded that the vulnerable require a systemic approach to address the overlapping factors that contribute to suicide contemplation. There are many non-profits and healthcare providers working together in Western Growers’ area of service dedicated to creating a comprehensive community to help those suffering from suicidal ideation and depression. Among these resources: Pinnacle Health Management’s UpLift: Overcoming Depression Program. This program is available for free for all participants of the WGAT health plan. It offers a personalized approach to care management, including 12 months of guided calls and education resources and collaborative goal-setting as part of a curriculum created by a behavioral health expert and administered by healthcare professionals. More information is available at (844) 230- 1121 or healthmanagement@pinnacletpa.com In addition, resources are available at any time at the national level. If you are someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255/1-800- 273-TALK. The Crisis Text Line is a free confidential texting service for emotional crisis support and can be reached by texting HELLO to 741741.



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Control Every Beat of Your Farm

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For more information contact Mr. Iftach Shalev Rosenbach 509-668-1602 or Mr. Travis Klicker 509-823-3499


Shipper Steps to Take When Verifying a Potential Rejection By Bryan Nickerson, Manager, Trade Practices & Commodity Services As a shipper, it is prudent to fully understand both your contractual obligations and your rights when handling a potential rejection. A shipment cannot be deemed rejected if it is either: 1. Unloaded (except for the purpose of inspection); or 2. Unilaterally diverted during transit Under PACA law, both such actions constitute answer to that question is “no.” Once the product is sold to the buyer, it belongs to the buyer, and only if the buyer agrees to release it back to the shipper can the shipper move the product elsewhere. That said, the buyer cannot unilaterally amend the contract as there must still be a mutual agreement reached by both parties to change the original sale.

acts of acceptance. For proper cause, your buyer may reject a shipment by providing a prompt and proper notification to the shipper. PACA defines timeliness in rejecting a shipment as: • If it is a truck shipment, the buyer has up to 10 hours after arrival at contract destination. • If it is a rail shipment, within 24 hours of arrival at contract destination. For your customer to properly reject a shipment, there needs to be unbiased, objective evidence of a breach of contract. Unless you’ve agreed to it, an internal Quality Control (QC) or Quality Assurance (QA) inspection should not be deemed as a valid representation of the load’s quality and condition at the contract destination. The best practice— dependent upon where product is shipped—is to secure that evidence by obtaining a federal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) inspection, indicating the product did not meet contract specifications upon arrival. Remember, on a Free on Board (FOB) sale, it is the buyer’s burden to request a USDA inspection and prove a breach of contract, not the shipper’s. I often receive inquiries from shippers asking if their product arrived at the contract destination showing problems and the buyer is requesting to amend the original sales contract, can they (the shipper) take possession of the load and move it to another wholesaler or buyer that they feel can do a better job with the distressed product? The simple

The takeaway is when product is rejected by a buyer back to the shipper, the shipper should immediately move the product to another buyer or wholesaler to minimize losses. If the shipper feels that the rejection was not a valid rejection, then he can place the buyer “on notice” that the rejection was wrongful. You must thoroughly document and memorialize the steps you are taking to mitigate damages. To mitigate losses, the product will then be moved to be sold for the account of whom it may concern. The shipper will look to the original buyer who rejected the product for any and all losses from the original sales contract. Assistance with rejections and helping you understand your shipper rights is just a small fraction of the services offered by the Western Growers Trade Practices Department. In an effort to enhance the competitiveness and profitability of you, our members, Trade Practices is dedicated to being your one-stop shop for consultation and education on fresh produce contracts. Our goals are to ensure that WG members are not taken advantage of when differences occur and to provide assistance in recovering monies owed. Just last year, the Trade Practices team worked hard to represent members’ interests, ultimately recovering more than $920,000 on their behalf. If you need guidance on the rights and remedies available to sellers of perishable commodities under PACA, please contact me at (949) 885-2392 or bnickerson@wga.com.



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Agricultural WATER Penetrant PENMAX ®


Penmax ® will greatly increase water penetration, flush salts away from the root zone, increase the beneficial microbial base and will reduce clouding and crusting. In permanent crops, Penmax ® will move water 8 feet vertically and 12 feet horizontally, which will bank water for later use.

■ Penmax ® (Non-Ionic) ■ No pH effect on soils ■ No compounds formed with hard water ■ Less product required ■ Penmax ® enhances the activity of soil organisms ■ Improves and balances the soil ecology ■ Preserves soil moisture by minimizing water evaporation ■ Allows water to move deeper and laterally in soils ■ Helps carry excess problem salts away from roots ■ Creates an improved root/soil interface

Penmax ® Micro-Sprinklers Irrigation Trials on Almonds

Penmax ® Water Penetration Trials (Depth Using Neutron Probes)



9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0



Diameter Depth












Water + Penmax ®

Water + Penmax ®

Western Nutrients Corporation has been developing and manufacturing high quality fertilizer, micronutrients and plant foods for commercial agriculture, horticulture, and organic acids since 1984. We guarantee quality and the ability to ship the best products in their class at competitive prices world wide.

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