WESTERN GROWERS FOREWORD By Walt Duflock, Vice President of Innovation at Western Growers

like Australia and New Zealand left them in a very precarious position with regard to labor, and Brexit has done the same to Britain. These factors have increased the urgency around automation solutions globally. In the past six months, Western Growers and partners in Australia, New Zealand and Britain have collaborated on new ways to help push global startups into the U.S. market effectively and help them scale their efforts with grower conversations, field trials and case studies. There are more partnership opportunities emerging. The goals for the Global Harvest Automation Initiative (GHAI) remain the same – automate 50 percent of fresh produce activity within 10 years. The lens is widening this year to include all labor – harvest, weeding, thinning, planting and spraying – as well as labor efficiency enhancements like harvest assist. Growers treat labor as a portfolio of work they need to manage to get the crop planted, grown and harvested. The GHAI will similarly look at the entire portfolio and help growers manage to optimize it with the right mix of labor and automation for their operation. This year’s report is the second annual report and takes a deep dive into some new areas. First, the report analyzes the European market and how it compares with the U.S. when it comes to both labor as a problem and automation as a solution. Second, the report looks at Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) and its current and potential future impact on labor and automation. Third, we took a deeper dive into the innovator’s side of automation – how are startups doing with actual grower-driven metrics like robots in the field and number of customers. What we found showed

Walt Duflock, Vice President of Innovation at Western Growers

Labor remains the top challenge for specialty crop growers globally from both an availability and cost perspective. The lack of a domestic work force, combined with the increasing costs of any farm work force due to regulatory constraints, are forcing growers to look to international workers through the U.S. H-2A programs and international equivalents. Use of H-2A workers has grown six-fold in 16 years (48,000 in 2005 to 300,000 in 2021), and housing and transportation costs for H-2A workers increases the cost of that labor force. Globally, the pandemic shutdowns in places

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