Cameron, Vice President of Terranova Ranch; Talley, in his role as Past Chairman and Ron Ratto, President of Ratto Bros. in his role as Past Past Chairman. “I have been fortunate beyond words to serve my first two years in this position alongside Ryan Talley, who led us as Chairman through a historic pandemic with calm confidence and wise counsel,” Puglia said. “As the only person to serve two years as WG’s Chairman, Ryan has given far more time and effort for the greater good than could be anticipated. We are enormously grateful to him and to his family.” “It’s certainly daunting to assume the Chairmanship of Western Growers,” Keck said. “The litany of people that have gone before me—it’s just crazy.” Keck hopes that as we evolve from the frantic pandemic stage of COVID to a managed endemic stage, we can create a new productive reality. “We’ve been in this surreal spin cycle for going on two years. It’s nice to think we’re coming out of this malaise that we’re in. That’s our hope, but we’ve had these false starts plenty this past year, right?” he said. “I refuse to accept this new normal as the new reality—no, it’s not. It’s still surreal and dystopic. It’s not our new normal. It’s messed up, and we are desperately needing to get out of it. That being said, the challenges we face are no less than what they’ve always been.”

The key to that, he said, is being clear, concise, and forthright in spreading the message to the public about the real- world needs of the grower and shipper community. “I think we have a good story to tell, and I think people are becoming much more aware of the essentials in their lives,” Keck said. “I think the opportunities that we’re going to have through these challenges are something we really need to key into in our messaging. I think it will open some doors to a lot of real good discussions, and, hopefully, policies that help ensure our future.” Counterintuitively, it may just be that the horrors and sadness of the COVID crisis provided a turning point towards good. For the first time, Americans became aware of the complexities involved in getting food to the table and commodities on shelves. “I think we’re supplying them with an essential need in food, and I think there is a huge opportunity there that is going to elevate our message that we matter,” he said. “We are a key part of everyone’s lives, and there are a lot of vulnerabilities in the supply chain that can affect everyone here in our country. There’s going to be some interesting things that come from that, and that may be a shifting of our awareness as a society and as a culture. I think Western Growers is in a good position to capitalize on that.”

Albert Keck receives the Chairman's gavel from Ryan Talley at the 2021 Annual Meeting



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