Western Growers Annual Meeting Highlights

By Cory Lunde W ith the cancellation of the Western Growers Annual Meeting in 2020, its return in 2021 represented an opportunity to celebrate the resiliency of the Western fresh produce industry. Amid a global pandemic, Western Growers members have rallied to continue providing a healthy, abundant supply of fruits, vegetables and tree nuts to consumers across the country and world. More than ever, the value of common association was demonstrated by strong participation from members and industry allies, and substantial support from recurring and new sponsors. Attendees of all stripes were treated to the first-class social events, educational sessions, speakers and entertainment that have become the hallmarks of the Western Growers Annual Meeting. The Welcome Reception, hosted on the Fairmont Grand Del Mar’s Aria Lawn Sunday evening, provided the first opportunity for Annual Meeting attendees to network and build both personal and professional relationships. Conversations spilled over into planned and impromptu dinners at the fine dining establishments on property, where bonds were further deepened. Monday morning commenced with the Annual Meeting Board Meeting, which highlighted the service of Western Growers legend Hank Giclas and honored the extraordinary two-year tenure of outgoing Chairman Ryan Talley of Talley Farms. During the traditional passing of the gavel ceremony, Talley turned the 2022 chairmanship over to Albert Keck of Hadley Date Gardens. Coinciding with the board meeting was the inaugural Kickoff Keynote featuring Magatte Wade, a remarkable Senegal-born entrepreneur, visionary business leader and inspirational speaker. Her passion for creating positive change in Africa captivated the audience. Lawyer, author, columnist and television commentator Gordon Chang headlined the PAC Lunch, where his extensive expertise on China was on full display. Chang used his remarks to discuss current geopolitical trends in China and forecast the future of U.S.-China relations.

From left: WG President Dave Puglia, 2021 Chairman Ryan Talley and 2019 Chairman Ron Ratto

The topic of the packed afternoon featured session was water and agriculture in the West. Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia moderated a riveting, and sometimes sobering,

Above: Chairman Ryan Talley (left) and WG President Dave Puglia present Carol Chandler with the WG Award of Honor Left: attendees enjoy a firepit at the Del Mar venue



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