The Warriors Men & Women who are Changing the Face of Agriculture




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8 THE WARRIORS: Men &Women Who are Changing the Face of Agriculture 11 International Trade Uncertainty Continues 12 Wearable Tech Reduces Risks of Workplace Injuries 16 WG Members Cope with COVID…With Innovation 20 Western Growers’ COVID Response 22 WGCIT SPONSOR The Bosch Group Building Technology with a Purpose 24 Naïo Delivers Autonomous Weeding Robots 28 Giclas Thrived with Multiple Tasks

WESTERN GROWER & SHIPPER Published Since 1929

Volume XCI Number 4

To enhance the competitiveness and profitability of Western Growers members

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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


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Words Matter “Words matter,” begins Michael Mandelbaum, professor emeritus of American foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, and former faculty member at Harvard University, Columbia University and the U.S. Naval Academy.

He continues on, “especially words defining complicated political arrangements, because they shape perceptions of the events of the past, attitudes toward policies being carried out in the present, and expectations about desirable directions for the future.” While he was doubtless referring to complicated political arrangements in the international arena, Mandelbaum’s words resonate as I observe an apparent terminology shift in water policy. Western water policy is fraught with competing interests and complicated laws and arrangements. Nonetheless, the players in this arena have historically managed to speak the same language, with shared understanding of terms and ideas, even as they competed as policy advocates. This has helped legislators and other interests not so imbedded in the nuances of water policy to at least have confident understanding of the basics of water storage, conveyance, allocations, etc., as they wade into a matter before them. From the day I came to Western Growers, one of those commonly understood and accepted terms has been “water supply reliability.” It was used ubiquitously, by advocates of all stripes, in the midst of debates over new surface storage (dams), new conveyance facilities (the Delta tunnel or tunnels, among others), groundwater recharge facilities and the operational criteria governing them all. An entire chapter of the 2009 water bond (the precursor to the watered-down Prop. 1 in 2014) is entitled, “Water Supply Reliability.” The term always made sense, because physical infrastructure is generally constructed for the primary purpose of providing reliable water supplies to cities and farms. No one can dispute, for example, that Oroville Dam and the California Aqueduct were created to help secure a reliable water supply for Los Angeles and greater Southern California, and that without those facilities, many millions of people would be in serious trouble. In recent years, I began noticing a new term taking the place of “water supply reliability.” Today you would be hard- pressed to hear California officials utter that phrase, but you will find them aspiring to a new era of water management that is defined by “resilience,” or “resiliency.” Indeed, the Newsom Administration has made the turn of phrase central to their water priorities, which they have labeled the Water Resilience Portfolio. Mandated in Governor Newsom’s

April 2019 executive order, a final package of recommended actions to “ensure the state’s long-term water resilience and ecosystem health” is forthcoming. This is all merely to say that words do in fact matter, because words can also be code for something else. In this case, I believe the word resilience is code for a policy agenda that, described accurately and openly, would reveal objectives intended to displace “water supply reliability” as the first priority of California water policy. This is not to say that we should not have water systems and policies that are resilient. Of course we should, especially in the context of both climate change and protection of ecosystems. But water supply reliability for cities and farms is no less important a consideration of building resiliency into our water policies than any other imperative. So why retire the term without so much as a eulogy? As I have observed all of this (with more than a few pointed comments along the way), I have also seen “resilience” gain traction elsewhere. California leaders frequently speak and write of “climate resiliency,” which, as with water policy, is a fine idea in the abstract but begs for candor in the all-important details, like what the state’s climate policies mean for the resilience of businesses, like farms, that are increasingly less resilient to the harsh economic realities imposed by California’s thick and thorny regulatory regimes. This move is quite savvy, actually. Attaching the word resilience to a policy agenda presents a tough target to hit. It infers a science-based, data-informed plan that protects all from the unforeseen dangers of unpredictable or fast-changing circumstances beyond our control. For advocates of private sector interests, the highest priority is to forcefully define the harmful consequences to people and communities that will result from policy decisions baked into a “resiliency” agenda that is not truly balanced and protective of all. As California and the rest of the country emerge from the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world undoubtedly will be different in many fundamental ways. But we have a choice about what we want this future to look like, so pay particular attention to the words our political leaders use to define their intended pathway forward. As Mandelbaum admonishes us, these words matter because within them lies a policy agenda that, visible or not, can shape our social, political and economic future.



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The Baca Family Bueno Foods Albuquerque, New Mexico

Member Since 2014

13th Generation in New Mexico Continues to Prosper with Chilies

By Tim Linden T he Baca Family of New Mexico has much to be proud of as they have very deep roots in their home state, continue to build a thriving business as their family firm approaches its 70th anniversary, and just may well be the most well educated family in agriculture. “We can trace our roots back to the 1600s,” says Gene Baca, who is senior vice president of Bueno Foods and runs the company with his sister Jackie, who serves as president. The

ownership is split primarily among him and his four sisters. The five Baca siblings have all been involved in the company in many material ways over the years, with four of them still playing very active roles. While the family’s farming roots no doubt also date back to the 1600s as farming was a way of life for virtually everyone in New Mexico four centuries ago, Bueno Foods, or at least its recipes, can be traced to the late 1800s. “My grandmother grew up in Hatch, New Mexico, and it is still many of her recipes that we use today,” Gene said of the recipes his grandmother learned from her ancestors. Of course, Hatch is famous for its eponymous chile, and the New Mexican chile was the mainstay for many dishes in those days and ever since. But Gene’s grandparents had talents far exceeding the ability to make excellent chile-based dishes. His grandmother was also an educated woman and a teacher, and his grandfather was an entrepreneur. They were also prolific in their family-making endeavor as they produced 13 children: 10 sons and three daughters. Almost all the brothers served in the military during World War II, with three of them—August, Ray and Joseph—emerging on the other side with the idea of starting a business, as encouraged by their father. They first formed a small grocery store in Albuquerque called The Ace Food Store and started selling some prepared foods, such as tamales and tortillas, relying on their mother’s recipes. It was difficult to compete with the ever-expanding, burgeoning supermarkets so the three brothers concentrated on manufacturing, again using their mother’s recipes. In 1951, Bueno Foods was started on the three-acre parcel owned by the three brother’s parents, with the kitchen of the family home serving as the production hub. Dishes favored by the

The Baca family members currently involved in the family business, include (from l to r): Catherine, Marie, Gene, Jackie and Ana.



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local Hispanic community were the initial items, including the flame-roasted chile that New Mexicans loved. Though the product line has grown tremendously over the years, the top sellers have remained the same. For the first 30 years, the company expanded with new facilities being built on the original property to accommodate the growth. “We started in the kitchen but eventually built a little factory,” Gene said. By the early 1980s, there was no more room for expansion and Bueno Foods purchased a 25-acre plot in south Albuquerque where it still sits today. That is when rapid growth began and when the well-educated children of Joseph and Marie Baca started to come to work for the company and take over leadership roles. Joseph was the youngest of the three brothers and it is his family lineage that carries on the business today. Both August and Ray had children, but their offspring pursued other interests. Joe’s children, however, all grew up in the business, working odd jobs at the plant in middle school and high school and even earlier. Gene believes it was this close connection that led him and his siblings to form a bond with the family company and become more materially involved as the years went on. Gene credits his grandmother and mother, who also was a school teacher, for instilling the power of education into

the five Baca siblings. “It wasn’t enough that we received college degrees,” he said. “It was expected that we would get graduate degrees.” Jacqueline (Jackie) Baca, an M.B.A. graduate of the University of New Mexico, joined Bueno Foods in the late 1970s on a full-time basis and was named president in 1986. Gene graduated from the University of New Mexico and then received his law degree from Harvard in the mid-1980s. He began working for Bueno Foods in the early 1980s as his father’s right-hand man with the intention of coming into the fold full-time upon law school graduation. Catherine holds a biology degree from the University of New Mexico and a master’s in public health from Harvard. She is also a pediatrician and is vice president of technical services and leads the company’s research and development department. Ana is a published writer and graduate of Stanford University and received her masters from the University of New Mexico. She is vice president of marketing and communications. Marijo Baca is retired from a career in social work, but she has a master’s degree in social services, and in the 1980s, she moved to Denver and opened that market for Bueno Foods. The company facility has been expanded and updated several times in the last few decades with the number of employees during its peak season doubling

in that time frame. Gene did not release annual sales numbers but said Bueno Foods is 15 times larger than it was when they moved into their current facility in 1984. He said the biggest challenge the company has had is managing that growth and handling the issues that come with scaling up production. He said the company started by making home-made products, literally in the home. The goal is to achieve that same quality while scaling up and using machines to create the same flavors. The company has six product lines: prepared foods, green chile products, tortillas, frozen red chile items, dry chile pods and powders, and sauces. While New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona are their traditional core markets, they have expanded across the country. They still source 95 percent of their chiles from New Mexico. In fact, the Bacas are instrumental in New Mexico continuing to thrive as a chile-producing state. Gene and several other individuals started the New Mexico Chile Association in 2006 to save the industry, which had seen a major drop in acreage. In fact, Gene served as president of the association for the first six years and has remained an active supporter of the association ever since. “We created a New Mexico certification program for chiles grown here, which was very important,” he said. There is also a Hatch Chile certification program, which has helped popularize that item. As Gene peruses the New Mexico landscape, he sees the same major challenges that plagues agriculture from coast to coast: overregulation. He notes that many New Mexico legislators have less connection with the food industry than they once did and do not have the same regard for business enterprises. In fact, it is this realization that led him to Western Growers. As a founding member of the chile association, he became acquainted with Western Growers and has greatly admired the work and advocacy the organization does on behalf of agriculture. When given the opportunity to be part of the association, Bueno Foods jumped at the chance. “I am super impressed with all that Western Growers does. I’m a big advocate of Western Growers and it’s a good partnership that we (the New Mexico Chile Association) have had with them.”

Joe Baca at the Ace Store in the 1940s.



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THE WARRIORS: Men &Women Who are Changing the Face of Agriculture

By Stephanie Metzinger W ar, by definition, is a sustained effort to deal with or end a particularly unpleasant or undesirable situation. With war, inaction is not an option. This is especially true in agriculture, where inaction puts the nation’s food supply in jeopardy. There is a myriad of passionate agri- warriors across the United States who are fighting for the right to feed our nation. Though these farmers and ranchers are growing the healthy food that provides sustenance and nutrition for millions of people, their noble efforts are still met with adversity. In addition to battling factors out of their control such as the growing scarcity of natural resources, they must also deal with regulatory pressures that only seem to intensify. Take, for example, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s decision last year to ban the use of insecticide chlorpyrifos, making it even more difficult to protect the state’s food supply from invasive species. Or the dramatic increases in the Adverse Effect Wage Rate by the U.S. Department of Labor, which detrimentally affects the ability of American farmers to access and afford a legal, stable supply of labor. Farmers, especially in the West, face the most stringent regulatory environment in the world, and more often than not, it’s an uphill battle. However, they understand the consequences of inaction, and leaders throughout the industry are rising to the occasion to fiercely fight for, as well as discover, solutions that will pave the way for a better tomorrow. These warriors are taking monumental steps that will forever transform the industry—whether it be through advocacy, innovation or community outreach. Who are these leaders lobbying for more freedom on the farm? Who are the

innovators thinking outside the box for solutions? Who are the pioneers turning to technology for an answer? Here are five men and women who are changing the face of agriculture. Robert Sakata: Mobilizing the Fight for Colorado Farming Robert Sakata is a founding member, and current president, of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA)—an organization dedicated to advancing and protecting Colorado’s fresh fruit and vegetable farmers. As the owner of Sakata Farms, he has experienced, first hand, how policies and regulations created by lawmakers and administrators unfamiliar with agriculture can have adverse effects.

“A lot of times, you have to be at the table to make sure you are not losing ground,” said Sakata. “There are so few of us left in agriculture and when there is an opportunity, we need to make sure that our voice is heard.” Prior to CFVGA, there was no unified front that supported fresh produce growers throughout Colorado. When a multistate Listeria outbreak in 2011 was linked to cantaloupes in Colorado, melon growers lacked the resources needed to properly deal with the incident. It was then that Sakata, Adrian Card of the Colorado State University Extension, and a host of local growers expedited the establishment of CFVGA. Today, CFVGA, which is a partner of Western Growers, serves as the go-to resource for Colorado

(l to r) Roberta Sakata of Sakata Farms with CO Senator Cory Gardner and Reid Fishering of Mountain Quality Farms during the 2019WG Annual D.C. Board Fly-In.



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produce growers in five core areas: food safety, labor, water, business development, and health/nutrition. In addition to his involvement in CFVGA, Sakata also advocates for farmers through his involvement on local boards such as Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission, Colorado Ag Water Alliance, Colorado Water Congress, Interbasin Compact Committee, Adams County Farm Bureau and Colorado Farm Bureau. He regularly travels to Washington, DC, with Western Growers and other ag organizations to share his experience as a farmer with legislators. “When it comes to topics that directly affect farmers like water or immigration reform, if we aren’t involved and not voicing our needs, who knows what else we would be losing. We need to be at the table, not on the table.” A.G. Kawamura: Eradicating Hunger Through Urban Farming As a progressive urban farmer who has dedicated his life to ending hunger, A.G. Kawamura believes that domestic food security is more than a national movement; it is a common- sense philosophy. Kawamura, an owner/partner of Orange County Produce, has a lifetime of experience working within the shrinking rural and urban boundaries of Southern California and has made it a goal to discover and implement innovative methods to address food insecurity through urban agriculture. This includes working with edible landscapes to experiment with different ways of production, as well as farming on undeveloped land such as parking lots, rooftops, open space under power lines, and between runways on an abandoned military base. “People talk about being an urban farmer as if it’s something completely different than being a rural farmer, but the truth is that both are dealing with taking the land and transforming it so it can produce product for you,” said Kawamura in a recent Western Growers Instagram Takeover. “The biggest difference between urban and rural is that you have to look for your pockets of land in an urban area because there’s not a lot of it left.” In 2011, Kawamura founded Solutions for Urban Agriculture, a nonprofit that strategically repurposes urban properties for the sustainable production of farm products—all in an effort to recover food to help those in need and ensure food security. Solutions for Urban Agriculture offers educational programming for creative management of resources and implements innovative projects that bolster resiliency within the food system. Through his nonprofit and farm, he is engaged in building a Farm and Food Lab at the OC Great Park in Irvine, Calif., to promote food production in urban settings. Average citizens can visit the Farm and Food Lab to learn how to transform their backyard (or even front porch!) into a cornucopia of fruit and vegetable production. “The opportunity to farm in an urban area exists all over the planet and not just here in Orange County,” said Kawamura. “We’ve been able to show that there are a lot of properties that are going to stay open and available if there is a willing landowner and, more importantly, a willing farmer that might want to put it into play.” Vic Smith: Championing Technology to Create Advancement JVSmith Companies President/CEO Vic Smith has a long track record as an advocate for innovation and technology within the specialty crop industry. As an early adopter of agtech, Smith has pushed agriculture to embrace technology as a solution to the industry’s most pressing issues, such as food safety and labor.

A.G. Kawamura transforms unconventional urban areas into regions rich with fresh produce.

He played an integral role in the launch of Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology in 2015 and today continues to support the center as a sponsor. He was among the first to invest in technological solutions coming out of the center and is currently working with several startups to help bring their ideas to market. In fact, Smith now sits on the board of one of the inaugural startups to join the center, iFoodDecisionSciences, where he helps guide the advancement of technology to enhance food safety. Smith was also tapped to participate in the Produce Traceability Initiative to further advocate for supply chain-wide adoption of electronic traceability. In addition to promoting the use of data to improve traceability and farming operations, Smith is a champion of robotics as a solution for the industry’s labor problems. He has worked with the University of Arizona to develop autonomous equipment to help with planting and thinning of vegetable crops and continues to promote automation in the desert growing regions. Ellen Brokaw: Campaigning to Improve the Lives of Farm Workers Ellen Brokaw, president of Brokaw Ranch Company and a prominent member of Ventura County’s agricultural community, has long been an inspirational leader in the campaign to improve the lives of farm workers and their families. She was a founding member of the Ag Futures Alliance Ventura County which, in 2002, produced a report on the dire need for farm worker housing. Two years later, she helped



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organize the first Farm Worker Housing Summit, which called attention to the need for better and more affordable homes for farm workers. The summit attracted more than 150 volunteers to join the cause. From that was born an education and advocacy program called House Farm Workers! Today, Brokaw serves as treasurer and founding chair for House Farm Workers!, where she is part of the team that advocates on behalf of farm workers, educating elected representatives and the public about the need for safe, decent and affordable farm worker housing. Mario Pacheco: Rising Through a Crisis When news about the COVID-19 outbreak started surfacing in 2019, West Pak Avocado CEO Mario Pacheco anticipated the impacts of the pandemic and identified areas where West Pak would be required to retool. He quickly implemented an aggressive plan to prioritize the health and safety of West Pak employees, which included elevating sanitization efforts, dividing production floor workstations with protective plexiglass to enforce social distancing, and actively screening all employees and vendors for coronavirus symptoms. West Pak also made swift strides to expand its technological capabilities to guarantee that facilities remain safe and operational. This included adding automation and updating equipment to reduce unwarranted bottlenecks; installing

Sammy Duda (left) presents Vic Smith (right) with the 2017 Forbes Impact Award for his achievements in the agtech space.

newly designed HID-based door systems to reduce human-to-human contact points; and adding thermal detection camera systems and facial recognition software to alert internal staff of possible risk detection. In addition to proactively making changes throughout West Pak operations, Pacheco prioritized helping those affected by COVID-19. The company donates

pallets of avocados weekly to Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino (FARSB), the Inland Empire’s largest hunger-relief organization. West Pak’s donation aids FARSB’s efforts to serve individuals with fresh produce, snacks, and boxes of emergency shelf-stable items to ensure that families are not going hungry through the COVID-19 pandemic. “West Pak is giving back to our communities to help feed those in need in a time of crisis,” said Pacheco, in a press release. “Now more than ever before, people need our help. We have the ability to provide and the desire to step up where we can be most effective.” These five pioneers are prime examples of how farmers pivot and adapt when faced with challenges, while simultaneously fighting for those in need. They are a small sample of the types of leaders that exist within western agriculture who continue to advocate for change that not only benefits the industry but the nation and world. As we enter an even more challenging environment due to the significant political, social and economic impacts caused by a monumental pandemic, we can expect more men and women in agriculture to step up to the plate and ignite change that reverberates around the globe.

Ellen Brokaw with a recipient of the Ellen Brokaw House FarmWorkers! Scholarship, which was named after Brokaw for her leadership in fighting on behalf of farm workers.



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International Trade Uncertainty Continues

By Tracey Chow I t is fair to say that 2020 has thus far proceeded in ways no one could have predicted. The issue that is top of mind for the industry is the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout. While much of the attention and impact has been domestic-facing, COVID-19 has also thrown international supply chains into disarray. Given the significant global economic shock and expected lingering effects in markets around the world, U.S. agricultural export projections for the remaining year are falling. USDA’s own recent export forecast dropped by $3 billion from just five months prior. It is worth noting that USDA has also forecasted that U.S. agricultural exports to China may top out around $13 billion for the year. This is far from the $80 billion- over-two-years purchasing commitment China made in the U.S.-China phase one agreement, which went into force in February. Of course, the main culprit has been COVID-19, which essentially ground China’s economy to a halt. However, as it has started to reopen, the agreement’s payoff for specialty crops has been mixed. Commodities like citrus have seen higher export sales compared to last year; this is not the same case for tree nuts. The deal opened China for the first time to U.S. nectarines, avocados and blueberries; given that steep retaliatory tariffs remain on these products, it remains to be seen how accessible the market will actually be. Other external factors are also keeping phase one watchers on their toes. The

current relationship between the United States and China is tenuous and strained, largely due to China’s apparent failures and secrecy at the onset of the outbreak, as well as for its recent unprecedented overreach into Hong Kong. The United States has taken several provocative actions against China, and China in turn has dug in and traded arrows. All the while, both American and Chinese trade officials have made public statements attesting that the deal is secure and moving forward. Although President Trump has made known his frustrations with China and this deal, given the precarious economic situation in both nations, adhering to the deal—not abandoning it—appears to be the safer route. Looking at other recent trade deals, progress on both the U.S.-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) and U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement has moved forward relatively unhampered. By July 1, USMCA is to be fully enacted. At the same time, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) office remains committed to restart negotiations with Japan on a phase two agreement, hopefully as soon as this year. For agriculture, a phase two deal represents the best, if not the only, chance to resolve remaining tariff issues and secure significant reforms to Japan’s notoriously complex pest-and-disease protection regime. Elsewhere, a deal with India is nonexistent, as is one with the European Union. Outside of bilateral negotiations, the EU continues to be an extremely

contentious player in the agricultural trade arena. In May, the EU released a “Farm to Fork” Strategy that calls for extreme cuts to domestic use of pesticides and other inputs. This strategy builds upon the EU’s long history of agricultural policies that give deference to public activism over sound science. The EU has also made no secret of its goal to influence, and even pressure, other countries to adopt its anti-crop protection model. Indeed, we have seen more countries move to rein in pesticide approvals and usage, including Mexico, India, Vietnam, and Thailand. For fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, unworkable sanitary-phytosanitary (SPS) standards are quickly becoming the biggest barrier to trade, and the prospect of more EU-like systems in potential markets is nothing short of alarming. Thankfully, the United States has not stayed quiet and continues to build an international coalition of nations that share our goal to push back against the EU mindset. 2020 has brought forth short-term and long-term challenges that have the potential to drastically alter international trade for our industry. Western Growers remains active, both to provide immediate assistance and advocacy for members as well as to work with our agricultural partners to plot out trade opportunities for the decades to come. As the pandemic continues to give rise to new unforeseen challenges, we strongly encourage all members to utilize our team and resources to support your business.



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Wearable Tech Reduces Risks of Workplace Injuries

By Cory Lunde M eet Rosa. She is an H-2A worker from Mexico who was harvesting fresh produce for a Western Growers member company during the past winter vegetable season. Despite her age, she is over 55 years old, Rosa was relatively new to farm work, with less than five years of experience. Intuitively, Rosa fell into a higher risk of injury category. But did the data agree? From a smart phone worn around her belt,

high-risk movements and provided her with biomechanical changes she could implement to reduce her risk of injury. After six weeks of participating in the

Connected Worker Program, Rosa reduced her risk score by 43%. But the success story was not limited to Rosa. Her team reduced their overall risk score by 12%, as well. “By engaging all levels of employees in the company safety culture, the Connected Worker Program allows for positive changes to be made on the spot,” noted Gullickson. “In applying trends in data, businesses can identify and evaluate necessary changes to equipment or processes, ultimately promoting a safer work environment, improving operational efficiencies and cutting costs.” In addition to tracking body mechanics, the Connected Worker Program also provides COVID-19 functionality for agricultural operations. With its data collection and GPS capabilities, employers can log temperature readings, record answers to health screening questionnaires and monitor contact tracing, all while maintaining compliance with government regulations and in accordance with the latest guidelines on minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Wearable technology is becoming more commonplace, and has been embraced by consumers who have popularized devices like smart watches, activity trackers and virtual reality. Professional sports franchises have universally incorporated wearable devices into player training programs, and the technology is being widely adopted in other industries, including healthcare, advanced textiles (yes, smart fabric is a thing), and even the military. It is time to add agriculture to that list. To learn more about the benefits the Connected Worker Program could have for your business, contact Ken Cooper at kcooper@wgis.com. Top: ConnectedWorker app can log temperature readings and record answers to health screening questionnaires. Bottom: ConnectedWorker dashboard provides real-time risk score based on body mechanics- related risk factors.

the Connected Worker Program app monitored and tracked Rosa’s body mechanics, noting the frequency and duration of her deep bends and the rotational energy of her twists. Ultimately, the analysis demonstrated that Rosa was exerting significantly more strain on her body compared to her peers. Without the Connected Worker Program designed by Western Growers Insurance Services (WGIS), Rosa may very well have become another statistic. Instead, she was able to proactively adjust her mechanics and prevent any injuries before they occurred. Utilizing the latest advancements in wearable technology, the Connected Worker Program measures the types of motions that drive major workers’ compensation injuries—those related to the neck, spine and hips—and detects unsafe movements, including falls and impacts. The data is then shared with both the supervisor and employee, and used to identify risk trends, improve safety measures, and coach workers on injury prevention techniques. “In developing the data-driven Connected Worker Program, we were equally focused on worker safety and workplace productivity,” stated WGIS President Jeff Gullickson. “With over several hundred thousand hours of worker data logged, this solution has been proven to lower the risk of injury from field to facility, simultaneously increasing the earnings potential of employees and lowering workers’ compensation costs and insurance premiums for employers.” Based on her risk score, the Connected Worker Program utilized an integrated messaging platform to present Rosa and her supervisor with real-time, app-based safety alerts. These risk reducer messages notified Rosa of her specific



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LEGISLATOR PROFILE The Latest Happenings with Rep. Tim Dunn

(Tim Dunn was appointed to the Arizona House of Representatives to represent Arizona’s 13th Legislative District. After earning his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Arizona, Rep. Dunn started his own grain company alongside his father. As a proud Yuma native, he understands the agricultural needs of his city.

By Chardae Heim T he last time Western Growers year as a member of Arizona’s House of Representatives and just beginning to tackle some of his constituents’ most pressing issues. Recently, WG had the opportunity to reconnect with Dunn to speak about the outcome of his efforts from our last conversation, along with his current legislative priorities. During our last conversation, Dunn was in the middle of working on the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), a much-needed multi-state water agreement to help stabilize the Colorado River system until a new set of operating procedures are drafted. This legislation was a significant issue for the Colorado River Compact—an (WG) spoke with Rep. Tim Dunn, he was completing his first full

agreement among the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. “The Drought Contingency Plan was a bipartisan bill that was passed, and we worked extremely hard on getting that done,” Rep. Dunn stated. In Yuma, AZ, where Dunn was born and is the main city in Arizona’s 13th district, there is extreme importance in protecting the “Law of the River.” The Law of the River is a compilation of compacts, federal laws, court decisions and decrees, contracts, and regulatory guidelines that manage the Colorado River. “There is continuous pressure to transfer water and water rights off of the river to central Arizona. Once you start putting water up for bid, you create a major disruption in the economies of those river cities,” said Dunn. Dunn also worked zealously on AZ HB2275, a House bill that clarifies an existing tax exemption, ensuring the fairness and consistency of ag taxes. Arizona was one of two states actively taxed on fertilizer and HB2275 was designed to alleviate this disadvantage. Rep. Dunn, in collaboration with several of his colleagues, introduced a bill to get a tax exemption on fertilizer and chemicals. Something not explicitly detailed in the statute was his efforts in modifying the bill from “Transaction Privilege Tax Exemption; Crop Production Tools” to “Transaction Privilege Tax Exemption; Propagative Materials,” ensuring essential agricultural inputs are exempt from sales tax. The provisions also include an extensive list of propagative materials that are exempt

from TPT and use taxes. “This was a huge win for Arizona farmers, in keeping the cost of production in line with growers in neighboring states,” he exclaimed. According to Rep. Dunn, before the spread of COVID-19, Arizona’s economy was robust and had a $1 billion surplus. Now, the focus is on dealing with the shrinking state budget, opening schools and businesses safely, and getting the economy moving. As an agriculture business owner, Dunn recognizes the importance of having foodservice in the marketplace. He strives to be a champion for rural Arizona and the agriculture industry. As current chairman of the House Land and Agriculture committee, Dunn is steadily addressing the concerns of rural Arizona at the Capitol. One of his legislative highlights is collaborating with the Department of Agriculture (FDA) during an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7. He communicated directly with the FDA and the WG Board of Directors to devise a plan to remedy the romaine issue in Yuma. With over two years in the Arizona House of Representatives, one of Rep. Dunn’s main takeaways from being in the Legislature is constant communication with constituents is critical. “If you don’t know the people you represent, if you’re not talking to them, then you don’t know the pulse of who you’re trying to represent,” he declared. “I think being a rural legislator and coming from a farm base, understanding what our constituents care about is important, and we make sure we talk to those folks and make sure we represent them well.”



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COVID Issues Rise to the Top The onset of the COVID crisis has thrown our country for a loop and our industry along with it, but Western Growers farmers are rising to meet the challenge and here in Washington, DC, we are working to help you. In March we engaged the Trump Administration and

During late May, the Administration announced a direct payment program that is intended to provide farmers impacted by COVID direct financial support. Enrollment covers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and is intended to cover losses incurred between January 15 and April 15. Payments are capped at $250,000 unless you have a business structure

dozens of Congressional offices to ensure that there would be no impact on the availability of guest workers. As you may recall, State Department consulates closed because of COVID which imperiled the ability to process guest worker applications. Working with Congressional offices and then the

Administration, we were able to build more flexibility into the system to help ensure that there was no impact on the processing of H-2A applications. More recently, Western Growers worked to help ensure that guest worker crossings continue unabated and helped add extra opening hours to border crossings to improve the flow of workers so that harvest efficiency could be maintained at a high level for our desert growers. We know that many of you are running short on masks, gloves, and sanitizers so we have been working to secure resources for personal protective equipment (PPE). The House of Representatives recently passed a COVID package that provides tax credits for employers to help pay for PPE. The bill also provides money to pay for childcare for essential workers because many farm

with partners in which case payments could be as high as $750,000. While this program is far from perfect, it could be a significant benefit to growers in need. Please reach out to your county Farm Service Agency office to get information and then file for support if your business experienced harm like lower prices, cancelled contracts, or you disked under product as a result of COVID. While we hope producers sign up, we are working now to improve this program. We are working to secure additional money for the program to potentially raise the payment cap to higher levels and we are looking to cover losses beyond April 15 into Q2. We are also working to add additional crops to the eligibility list. USDA didn’t have complete pricing data on dozens of fruit and vegetable crops so we are helping them secure that data in

Please reach out to your county Farm Service Agency office to get information and then file for support if your business experienced harm like lower prices, cancelled contracts, or you disked under product as a result of COVID.

and packing shed workers face difficult choices about caring for their children with schools and day care centers closed. The Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued COVID related guidance from harvest through packing and processing for farm workers in the produce industry. As we have learned from large produce industry outbreaks that have already happened in Washington, Tennessee, and Florida, this guidance will become increasingly critical to ensure the safety of your workforce. While you work to implement this guidance, we will be working with the Senate to ensure that it too include funding for necessary supplies. As a special note, please go onto the Western Growers website often to see the most current worker safety material.

the expectation that additional crops can be added to the list. Finally, we are also working with other business groups to try and secure business liability protection. That is a very contentious issue in Congress but we are hopeful that some type of liability shield can be provided to employers who are following CDC/OSHA guidelines for their employees. We are also trying to improve the Payment Protection Program by trying to increase the eligibility terms to businesses that have more than 500 employees as well as expand the list of eligible uses for the money beyond labor, mortgage costs, rent and utilities. As this crisis continues, we will be responding to new issues as they arise related to it COVID.



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WG Members Cope with COVID… With Innovation

By Tim Linden O f the $1.4 billion in relief checks already provided to more than 80,000 farmers and ranchers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, less than 2%, about $25 million, has been allocated to specialty crop producers. As is typically the case when it comes to federal government support for agriculture, livestock and field crops are at the front of the line, with the fresh produce industry bringing up the rear. Of course, the industry would love to get some of that $16 billion in direct payments under the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), but nobody is waiting around for the

windfall. Instead, suppliers have enacted innovative efforts to cope with COVID-19 and keep their businesses relevant and compliant as they deal with a new existential threat to their livelihood. In these pages, we look at how three Western Growers members have met the newest enemy head on and are emerging on the other end stronger for it. D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, Salinas, CA John D’Arrigo, president of the 90-plus-year-old company, has not had time yet to pencil out the cost of all the COVID-19

At D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, each packing station on the harvester is screened to minimize contact between packers.



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For example, for the cooler facility there are protocols for forklifts, the proximity on the loading dock for workers and for the semi-truck drivers who show up every day to pick up loads of fresh produce. “We don’t allow any non-employees into the cooler box anymore. And, of course we sanitize and re-sanitize everything.” D’Arrigo said that his company, like most others in the leafy green industry, had a head start on safety protocols because of the 2006 spinach crisis that caused a deep examination of all processes and the development of mandated best practices. “We had a lot of safety precautions already in place, but the coronavirus caused us to take it to the next level.” The company bought 4,000 bandanas issuing two to every employee. “One to wear and one to wash.” For the most part, he said wearing face covers has been the easiest hurdle as many farmworkers already did that. Social distancing in the field is another necessity that caused a reconfiguring of the harvesting mechanism and the installation of screens between packing stations on those winged harvesters. From one end of the business to the other, changes were made. D’Arrigo said no stone was left unturned. Initially, product was lost as about 30 percent of D’Arrigo’s business goes to the foodsaervice sector, and that business was lost overnight. “We disked under hundreds of acres,” he said. Previous to this pandemic, D’Arrigo was on a planting schedule that calculated its needs one to two years in advance. “Now we are reassessing sales every 30 days and adjusting acreage accordingly,” John said. The pandemic has changed consumer buying habits and D’Arrigo is constantly analyzing those numbers to make sure its production matches the needs of its customers. “It took us a while to figure that out, but we were able to adjust quickly. We are lucky that we haven’t had to lay off anybody during this period.” The change in consumer buying habits has also caused D’Arrigo to reexamine its products and how they are presented to consumers. During the pandemic, bulk sales dropped at retail while packaged produce saw a spike in sales. The company is adding packaging options where applicable. “Can we shrink wrap, sleeve or bag? We are looking at every commodity,” he said.


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

John D’Arrigo

precautions that have been put in place by the organization; he has been too busy putting them in place. “We are going to have to do that soon,” he said in early June, after spending the previous three months on a daily quest to prepare the company in every possible area of concern. “I don’t know if it’s a quarter a box or a dollar a box, but it’s a lot. The cost has been horrendous.” According to D’Arrigo, the company got ahead of the curve by jumping on the situation very quickly. “Very early on, I realized this was going to be the real deal,” he said. “If you studied it, that became clear. I started looking at our different environments and made a plan for each one.” The office was closed to visitors with protocols established at the entrance, and tracing efforts enacted to track the movements of the company’s 2,000 employees and 60-plus labor-transporting buses. The goal was to minimize contacts between employees and establish new safer routines that could be monitored and improved upon. “We converted one building to a training facility and hired a trainer so we could teach everyone how to protect themselves and protect their families once they went home.” For the workers traveling on buses, D’Arrigo adopted assigned seating on each bus. The worker would go to and from the field as the only occupant of a particular seat. “That’s your seat every time and every day,” John said. Every process received the same scrutiny with a training squad working day and night to make sure protocols were followed. “We slowly developed a binder with all the protocols. That binder is updated almost every day.”



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