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W E S T E R N G R O W E R & S H I P P E R

6 Talley to Serve Second Year As Chairman of the Board 8 Past Chairmen Weigh in on Talley’s 2 nd Year 10 Meet Your Future Volunteer Leaders 28 The D’Arrigo Legacy: Three Generations of Leadership in the Produce Industry 34 Walt Duflock on Leading Innovation in 2021 36 WGCIT STARTUP:

WESTERN GROWER & SHIPPER Published Since 1929 Volume XCII | Number 1

DEPARTMENTS 4 President’s Notes 12 Federal Government Affairs 15 California Government Affairs 16 Legislator Profile 18 What’s Trending 20 Western Growers Assurance Trust 21 Western Growers Insurance Services 22 Member Welcome & Anniversaries 24 Ag & the Law 31 Western Growers Financial Services 32 Science 33 Inside Western Growers 38 Update from the WGCIT 41 Contact Us

To enhance the competitiveness and profitability of Western Growers members

Dave Puglia President

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 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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Western Grower & Shipper ISSN 0043-3799, Copyright © 2021 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. Single copies of Yearbook issue $4. 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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Welcome, President Biden By Dave Puglia, President and CEO, Western Growers What is the Biden Administration’s agenda and how will our industry fare? Here’s a short and unsatisfying answer: We’ll all find out together.

• Just who is President Biden? Having done little to create an electoral mandate around issues (as opposed to personalities), the new President has leeway to chart an ideological course. Will the President resort to his Senate persona? There, Joe Biden styled himself a moderate Democrat who valued bipartisan collegiality and legislative collaboration. Or will he be moved left by vocal progressives feeling stung and determined after their setbacks in 2020? These interrelated factors, and others, will shape policy expectations for the nation, and of course for our industry. Perhaps the greatest cause for optimism is found in the most surprising area: immigration. If Biden opts for a relatively moderate course and wants to recharge bipartisanship in Congress, he would do well to lean in on an immigration package that includes a “DACA fix” (securing legal status for those brought to the U.S. as children without authorization) and agricultural labor reforms similar to those passed with bipartisan support by the House in 2019: the “Farm Workforce Modernization Act.” Regulatory areas affecting agriculture may be tougher, starting with Trump Administration water policies. The most consequential provided regulatory flexibility in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Newsom Administration filed lawsuits to block these changes. Environmental activists will push the Biden Administration to reverse the federal government’s position, perhaps by “settling” on terms that resume Obama-era constrictions and uncertainty for much of California’s water supply. That would be a mistake for an administration seeking moderation. Other key policy areas include infrastructure (water supply and quality, rural broadband), trade and crop protection. Infrastructure lends itself to bipartisan agreement, and we may see fast action here. Trade policy may be loosely guided by Biden’s “Buy American” platform, though whether and how he chooses to alter Trump policies, especially with China, are unclear. Most new administrations launch an ambitious agenda for “The First 100 Days.” Biden has done a bit of that, but with a closely divided Congress and country, we need to focus on the long game. Upon leaving the White House, few presidents point to their first 100 days as their greatest period of achievement. As the Biden Administration begins its journey, the entire Western Growers team is already hard at work to advocate for sound policy. Buckle up!

Often, an incoming President’s priorities are discerned from the campaign. Presidential candidates can create a governing mandate by defining their candidacy around a clear and unambiguous policy agenda. While the Biden campaign issued a raft of policy papers, it may be assuming too much to consider them a cohesive governing agenda, much less an electoral mandate. Voters saw and heard very little about policy issues. Ronald Reagan presented a clear agenda in 1980 (build back the military to win the Cold War, reduce taxes to jump-start the economy). Having campaigned on these themes, he legitimately claimed a mandate upon defeating Jimmy Carter. Donald Trump defined expectations for his supporters in 2016 (Build the Wall, fix our broken trade deals, bring our troops home from “endless wars,” appoint federal judges who won’t act as super-legislators) and acted on those promises as President. The Biden campaign’s energy was directed toward making the contest a referendum on Donald Trump. Beyond this, the candidate offered little by way of a defined agenda beyond broad assurances on handling the COVID-19 pandemic better, focusing on climate change, restoring relationships with U.S. allies, and generally returning normalcy to our politics. What, then, does this suggest for Biden Administration policies on agriculture generally, and the fresh produce industry specifically? Several factors will weigh heavily: • Appointees matter: Biden’s appointees will matter more than in prior administrations. Without a clear and defined agenda sweeping their boss into office, Biden’s appointees will play a large role in creating policy. President Reagan’s appointees had very clear objectives the moment they were sworn in; Biden’s team will have greater latitude to craft proposals and sell them to the White House. • All elections matter: While presidents can do a lot administratively, the big stuff requires Congress. Heading toward Election Day, Democrats eyed a clean sweep: Win the White House, take the Senate, and increase their House majority. They got the big prize and were able to gain an edge in the Senate following a sweep in the Georgia runoff elections. However, even with Vice President Kamala Harris set to act as tie-breaker, factor in several moderate Democratic Senators and it’s clear that progressives will face tough sledding in the Senate. On top of that, the Democrats’ loss of 10 House seats means similar obstacles for progressives in that chamber as the majority’s margin dwindled to single digits.



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Talley to Serve Second Year As Chairman of the Board

By Tim Linden

R yan Talley is very much looking forward to the unprecedented move of serving a second year as the Western Growers Chairman of the Board…but he certainly isn’t looking for a repeat. It is no understatement to note that 2020 was a year like no other. As a result, the Executive Committee of the Western Growers Board of Directors proposed that Talley get another shot at serving the association from the chairman’s perch. “The thinking was that I got cheated out of my year,” said the president of Talley Farms, which is located in Arroyo Grande, CA. “With everything being virtual and the fact we did not have an annual meeting, I really missed a lot of what the experience is supposed to be.” From his perspective, Talley believes it is the close connections and camaraderie that accompany a year as the top volunteer leader that he missed the most. “It is just very difficult for everyone to be engaged 100 percent of the time when we are holding board and committee meetings virtually. Over video or on the phone, honestly you just don’t give it the attention it deserves. The engagement isn’t there as it is just natural that you are in your office and other things come up.” Talley is very hopeful that 2021 is far different than 2020, but he doesn’t think it will be a return to the pre-COVID situation. “2021 will be a different year. With a vaccine available, I’m hoping many things get back to the way they were,” he said. “But we’re also going to be dealing with a new normal.” He expects that the experiences of 2020 will change the workplace for the foreseeable future. “Not everyone is going to come back to an office setting,” he said, referring both to the industry at large and specifically to the running of Western Growers.” Talley said that is a takeaway from 2020 that can serve business well. A lot of time is taken up commuting to work and

visiting customers and clients. While he expects much of that to return, he also believes that this past year has proven that sometimes it is equally as valuable, and much more efficient, to conduct meetings via video or phone. He also expects the emphasis on personal safety to remain top of mind and inform much decision making as the available vaccines are not going to instantly eradicate the virus. Personally, Talley said the existence of the virus affected his thinking. “Initially, it was a struggle. I had to proactively determine how I was going to feel everyday and how I chose to conduct myself,” he said. “I determined I had to focus on the positive and focus on the things I can improve, letting other things go by. What can we do to help our fellow Americans?” He added that “being optimistic is a cognitive choice.” He also expressed gratitude that he works in an industry that was able to make a positive difference throughout the year. “I am optimistic about

ground. “Right now, the pendulum has swung so far to one side (with regard to divisiveness), I think it is going to start to swing back.” Talley is also optimistic that by the time he presides over the Western Growers Annual Meeting in November in San Diego, the produce industry will have emerged in a post-COVID world with some semblance of normalcy. He also gave a shout out to Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia, who, like Talley, had his first year in his new position greatly challenged by the pandemic. “I think Dave did a wonderful job. He had the task of taking over the helm during the pandemic. He had the advantage of knowing the ins and outs of the association and was able to quickly move into his new leadership role. In fact, I am very proud of the job he has done. I’m sure it was overwhelming at times, but he rose to the challenge and stayed positive and open-minded. I think he was the perfect person for the job.”

the coming year,” he said speaking of the political changes. “It starts at the top and I am hoping Biden can cut through the divisiveness in our country and bring us together better. I don’t think the divisions are there in everyday Americans as the media would have you believe. You know what they say, ‘whatever bleeds reads.’” He believes every American needs to take a positive attitude as the new administration comes into office and reach across the aisle searching for common



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Past Chairmen Weigh in On Talley’s 2 nd Year

By Tim Linden

S everal past chairmen of the Western Grower Board of Directors who are still serving the association as members of the board wholeheartedly support the decision to extend current Chairman Ryan Talley’s leadership for an extra year. Growers system of having their future top volunteer leader go through a multi- year process to rise to that level greatly benefits the association while offering personal and professional growth for each chairman. They believe the unique In separate interviews, each of the chairmen noted that the Western situation that was 2020 robbed the association of profiting from Talley’s wisdom gained through ascending the ranks and prevented him from reaping the benefits of the full experience.

Tom Deardorff II, president of Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, CA, (WG chairman 2011) noted that the chairmanship of Western Growers is largely about building relationships across the supply chain for the betterment of the industry and the association’s membership. “A lot of what we do (as the chairman) is work together with others to represent our industry. In a perfect year, Ryan would have gone to all the conventions representing the association and would have represented us in the political arena.” Deardorff noted that he was surprised during his term at the level of access afforded the Western Growers chairman by virtue of the position. “You are talking to the most important people in the industry and in government. Sure, Ryan missed the opportunity to experience that, but we missed the opportunity to have him as our champion. He was and is the perfect guy for the job.” Sammy Duda of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Inc., in Salinas (WG chairman, 2017) made a very similar point. “Ryan is a very good intelligent thinker. When you get on the chairman track, it is a five-year process and you prepare for it diligently during the final two years. For your year, you are the face of the organization. It is a unique opportunity to engage with some very important people and help them understand our industry and in a small way influence their decisions. Not being from California or Arizona, it was a humbling and gratifying honor for me to represent Western Growers.”

He said this past year the opportunity for that engagement with face-to- face encounters was shortened by the pandemic. He believes the association will be served well by having Ryan in the top post for another year. Ron Ratto, president of Ratto Bros., Modesto and WG chairman in 2019, echoed the comments of the others with regard to the chairman’s standing as the front person for Western Growers. He also specifically noted the role the chairman plays as the liaison between the membership and the Western Growers staff. “The value of the position takes several forms,” he said. “It is the highest- level volunteer position and provides a direct conduit to the professional staff that run the organization. It is important to the membership that there is direct access to top-level professional staff so that membership point of view on issues can be directly communicated.” Sammy Duda: ”When you get on the chairman track, it is a five-year process and you prepare for it diligently during the final two years. For your year, you are the face of the organization.”

Tom Deardorff II: “Sure, Ryan missed the

opportunity to experience that, but we missed the opportunity to have him as our champion.”



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agricultural trade negotiator was amazing.” D’Arrigo said his term in office featured many important political elements including the negotiations of a bill for the specialty crop industry, which he said Nassif championed for the entire industry. “I’m sure Chairman Talley did the best he could do under the circumstance, but it’s not the same working from home and conducting these meetings by Zoom,” he said. Like the others, D’Arrigo noted that it is a process to become chairman and if Talley is willing to devote another year to the effort it is well worth it for him and the association. “It is admirable and commendable that he is willing to devote another year. Being chairman is really time consuming and does take you away from running your own business.”

WESTERN GROWERS OFFICERS – 2021 RYAN TALLEY , Chairman ALBERT KECK , Senior Vice Chair STUART WOOLF , Vice Chair CAROL CHANDLER , Treasurer VICTOR SMITH , Executive Secretary DAVE PUGLIA, President DIRECTORS – 2021 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 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 FRANZ W. DE KLOTZ Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, 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

He said the term aspect of the position allows for a succession of individuals to provide a constant stream of new input for the professional staff. He said that because of the lack of in-person staff interactions this past year with most people working at home, the staff lost the opportunity to experience the wisdom of Talley’s counsel. Ratto indicated that with a change in staff leadership in 2020, with Dave Puglia taking over the president/ CEO role, that interaction with staff would have been a major component of Talley’s year in office. Ratto added that an emphasis on the WG staff was also a major emphasis during his year as well because a good portion of his effort was centered around choosing a successor for longtime WG CEO Tom Nassif. John D’Arrigo, president of D’Arrigo Bros. of California and 2004 chairman of the board, focused his comments on what a great experience being chairman was for him and how happy he is that Ryan Talley gets a do-over so to speak. “For me it was a priceless experience,” he said. “I had so many experiences that I never would have had if I wasn’t chairman of the board.” Like the others, D’Arrigo marveled at the prestige that the position garners within the industry and the government. He noted that he attended the inauguration of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and got to meet President George W. Bush, which he called a personal highlight. “I will always cherish the photos I received from that meeting.” He added that he was involved in many high-levels meetings with government officials and had the opportunity to discuss very important issues. “I got to meet with the U.S. Special Trade Representative Allen Johnson. The idea that I got to discuss agricultural trade policy with our top Ron Ratto: “It is important to membership that there is direct access to top-level professional staff so that the membership point of view on issues can be directly communicated.”

John D’Arrigo “It was a priceless experience. I had so many experiences that I never would have had if I wasn’t chairman of the board.”

D’Arrigo added that among the professional and personal growth experiences for him was the improvement of his public speaking skills and a huge gain in confidence. In the disruptive year the nation has had, Duda harkened back to one of the highlights of his year and expressed hope that Talley could have a similar experience. Duda served in 2017 and as such went to the inauguration of President Donald Trump as the Western Growers Chairman of the Board. “Witnessing the peaceful transfer of power made me proud to be an American,” he said. “The Bushes were there and the Clintons, including Hillary who had just lost. And the Obamas were there. Each of them came up and congratulated the new president. That doesn’t happen in lot of places. It seemed like a very American thing to do.”



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Kristen Smith Eshaya Communications Director & Risk Management Specialist, JV Smith Companies

My Favorite…

Kristen Smith Eshaya has worked for JV Smith Companies in Yuma, AZ, as Communications Director and Risk Management Specialist since October 2017. She has optimized

PEOPLE: My husband, Emil. My 6-year-old daughter, Victoria. My 3-year-old son, Teddy. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY:

insurance programs for the entire JV Smith Family of companies spanning four states and two countries. Kristen has facilitated leadership development training and maintained open lines of communication between each company utilizing various techniques including intensive training from The Arbinger Institute. She initially started with JV in 2007 as Accounts Payable Manager for their Skyview Cooling operation, spending over two years in that role. Kristen also had a career in regional non-profit theatre between her two stints with JV Smith. Between The Alley Theatre in Houston and The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, she worked in finance, education, development, and as a grant writer from 2010-2017. Kristen holds a BA in Economics from The Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She also holds a master’s in education concentrating on Human Relations from Northern Arizona University and is currently obtaining a master’s in accounting from The University of Arizona. She also serves on the boards of Center for Growing Talent by PMA and The Children’s Museum of Yuma County. Journey with Kristen as she shares some of her most favorite interests.

Going to tradeshows and conferences. I attend a few a year, and here I am at the United Fresh 2018 Convention & Expo in Chicago. WEEKEND ACTIVITY: Go to Disneyland! (when that was an option pre-coronavirus…)

#WOMENINAG: An all-women team spearheading field trials for fusarium research at JV Smith Companies.

HOBBY: Finding outfits to match my babies!

VACATION: Cruises. At this point in my life, I love cruises because I’m able to see multiple new places while not having to move hotel rooms with kids. It’s perfect. Also, having a built-in babysitting program doesn’t hurt either!

Kristen is one of nine individuals selected to be in Class 6 of the Future Volunteer Leaders, a program that guides the next generation of leaders within Western Growers member companies interested in becoming more informed and effective advocates for the fresh produce industry.



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Philip Adam Chief Operating Officer, Innovative Produce

A seventh-generation California farmer, Philip Adam has worked with his family for the past nine years in Santa Maria, excelling in every aspect of the business from moving sprinkler pipe to research and development. Prior to joining Innovative Produce, he was a financial analyst for Corporate Finance Associates. Philip has held a California FLC (farm labor contractor) license since 2017, serves as president of PCH harvesting and is the agriculture representative to the Northern Santa Barbara County Econ Alliance. He earned his B.A. in economics and policy studies from Rice University in Houston, TX.

Journey with Philip as he shares a little bit more about his life…

“ I’ve acquired a permanent photo bomber. ”

Sprout with sprouts. ”

Feeding the Adam family sweet tooth. ”

FUN FACTS ABOUT PHILIP: Philip is a track and field champion, earning numerous accolades and All-American honors. Philip and his wife, Katie, welcomed their first child—baby boy Micah—in July 2019.

“ When the veggies cool down, the surfing heats up. ”

“ Katie is my partner in crime… and she cleans up okay, too. ”

*Philip is one of nine individuals selected to be in Class 6 of the Future Volunteer Leaders, a program that guides the next generation of leaders within Western Growers member companies interested in becoming more informed and effective advocates for the fresh produce industry.



Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

Election Results Will Alter Policy in Many Areas By Dennis Nuxoll, Vice President, Federal Government Affairs

Every four years we go through a seemingly never-ending presidential campaign. With COVID ravaging the country, this was no doubt the strangest presidential campaign in a long time. Obviously, the headline is that Donald Trump lost reelection and Joe Biden will become the 46 th president of the United States with Kamala Harris becoming the first woman, first Asian American, and first African American vice president. Democrats have retained control over the House of Representatives, albeit with a smaller majority, and have secured control of the Senate following a sweep of the Georgia Senate runoffs. What do these changes mean for Washington in 2021? We can expect immigration policy to become less

climate conditions so we can keep producing food but also to create incentives for adopting farming practices that improve and make the planet more sustainable. Western Growers will be working to stay out front of this new policy reality. For the House of Representatives, a battle to control the agenda is already brewing between moderate Democrats and the left wing over what the election means. Was the election a repudiation of the left? Or were progressive issues key to voter turnout in large cities which helped put Biden over the top? Given Biden’s own more moderate brand of policymaking, I believe the Democratic Party in the House will trend to the more moderate side. Frankly, the Democrats will need to move to the middle because their majority is much slimmer than it was before, which means it is likely they will need support from moderate Republicans to get anything done. In the Senate, the story is the same: moderates will be the key to getting any policies enacted. Control of the chamber will be held by Democrats even though each party has 50 senators because the vice president can break any ties. During the campaign, Biden said he wanted to launch a

confrontational; we can also expect a less confrontational approach with our allies around the world, but I suspect we will continue to confront China on trade. The Biden Administration will try to use the spending power of the government to “buy American” more aggressively than the Trump Administration did. It is likely the billions of dollars in government subsidies provided to farmers to pay for damage caused by trade wars with China and COVID will taper off or cease. Many of the environmental policies challenged by the Trump Administration are already in federal court and I suspect the Biden Administration will suspend litigation on many of the cases (as the Trump Administration did when they came in) and, after an evaluation, some of those policies will be overturned. During the last four years, the Trump Administration has been very aggressive in using executive powers— redirecting money with no Congressional authorization to build the wall, or many of the policy changes in immigration as examples—and since the Supreme Court has approved many of those Trump moves, we can expect that the Biden Administration will also use many of these newly found powers to pursue policy objectives it favors. At USDA, the new Secretary of Agriculture is…the old Secretary of Agriculture. President-elect Biden has chosen Tom Vilsack to lead the department. Vilsack was the former Governor of Iowa, who held the same position during all eight years under President Obama. President Biden will put a significant emphasis on climate change at USDA. The Biden team has a detailed climate change plan for USDA. Many of the elements are internal—changes in focus of USDA research programs or conservation programs to emphasize climate change—but the significant new idea that the plan champions is a carbon bank of several billion dollars. This carbon bank would be funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which is a pot of money Congress has given USDA to use in emergencies. President Trump used the CCC to fund payments to offset Chinese trade retaliation. Biden wants to use this money to pay farmers to sequester carbon. Vilsack’s main objective will be to create ways for farmers to combat climate change. The objective is to help farmers mitigate changing



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large economic stimulus package to help revive the economy and he wanted that package to include massive “buy America” provisions, especially as they relate to rebuilding infrastructure. If the economy is stagnant in 2021 that idea would be very attractive and could very well gain bipartisan traction…and WG will attempt to secure money for “water infrastructure” in any infrastructure bill. With such an even split, passing bills will be very tricky, but since Biden’s political career was formed in the Senate, I would not be surprised to see his administration working toward compromise on issues big and small— sometimes without success but with more wins than many naysayers think possible. A Democratic-controlled House last year passed agricultural immigration reform that would have helped create a new guest worker system while also providing a pathway for earned citizenship for farmworkers who are already here. The same majority in the House will exist in 2021 for that type of package and President Biden has already indicated he will push for immigration reform. The variable

will be the Senate. With a Senate split down the middle, I do not like the prospects for large comprehensive immigration reform that tackles all issues at once, as it will be tricky to get a massive package passed on such a tight margin. However, smaller pieces of the immigration puzzle might find a home—doing something for Dreamers/DACA kids, helping agriculture, speeding up citizenship for doctors and nurses who are on green cards now but want to become citizens. These smaller pieces might get more traction than trying to tackle the whole immigration topic, but Democratic Senate control seemingly assures immigration legislation will be in play. Western Growers will be working hard to help create a better/ new guest worker program as well as provide certainty to farmworkers who are here now with questionable status. Every election brings both policy peril and opportunity. Western Growers and the office and staff I manage in Washington DC is here to help all our members navigate the crosscurrents, avoiding dangers and helping us all achieve success.

Democratic Senate control seemingly assures immigration legislation will be in play. Western Growers will be working hard to help create a better/ new guest worker program as well as provide certainty to farmworkers who are here now with questionable status.





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The Road Ahead for California Agriculture in 2021 By Matthew Allen, Vice President, State Government Affairs 2020 is finally in our rearview mirror. We’ve been waiting for this moment, feeling on some days that it might never arrive. The personal and financial toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought on our lives and the California agricultural industry has been staggering and incalculable. Yet, we have risen to the occasion as an essential sector and should be proud of the many substantial and collective contributions that the entire industry has made to fight this pandemic. Our farmers and farmworkers have kept our state, nation, and world fed with safe and nutritious food all while facing new daily challenges. At the time of this writing, the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine have arrived in California. This is a very welcome sign and offers great hope for 2021.

Of course, 2020 was also a key election year. In addition to the hugely contested presidential race, California had its own hard-fought battles with which to contend. Key among those was Proposition 15 which was soundly defeated. This proposition would have removed the Prop 13 property tax protections on commercial and industrial properties; thus increasing costs on California’s growers and food processors. This was a very important and a substantial win for our industry and for taxpayers generally.

addition to the reintroduction of the plastic packaging bills that WG recently helped to defeat, there is an expectation that we will see bills that continue the attempt to further restrict crop protection tools, add additional and costly labor protections, and double down on California’s environmental justice goals. Wildfire protection and mitigation will also be a central topic since 2020 was a record wildfire year.

In short, our industry is not likely to be given a hiatus on challenging issues. That said, WG will continue advocating on our members’ behalf to not only lessen additional potential negative impacts on our industry but to find new opportunities that will help nurture our ability to survive and thrive in California. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the surface a great frustration with our state’s impractical and costly policies that harm both employers and their employees. The voices of these impacted constituents will be louder in 2021 because they are fighting for the survival of their businesses and their livelihoods. Legislators may have finally gotten to a place where they can no longer continue to ignore the facts and hope for a better news cycle.

The defeat of Proposition 15 likely means that there will be an even more aggressive pursuit within the California Legislature in 2021 to introduce and pass bills that would raise taxes on large businesses and “wealthy” taxpayers to supplant the state’s anticipated budget deficits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These potential tax increases will be more challenging to defeat since the California Senate has added to its Democratic Supermajority status with this election cycle. This also means that the more moderate voices in the Senate will almost certainly have a more challenging time in mounting traction to defeat anti-business or anti-agricultural bills. It is anticipated that we will see the usual legislative proposals introduced this year. In



Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

The Road to Reelection Congressman Valadao Reclaims His Seat By Chardae Heim, Communications Coordinator

(Editor’s Note: David Valadao is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing California’s 21 st Congressional District. He is a lifelong resident of California’s Central Valley and an active member in agriculture and dairy industry groups. He initially won three consecutive terms serving from 2013- 2019, before losing the seat in the 2018 election and then reclaiming it in the November 2020 election.) C alifornia Congressman David Valadao was born and raised by two Portuguese immigrant parents just 30 miles south of Fresno in the small thriving town of Hanford. With Hanford being the county seat of the agriculturally prominent Kings County, Valadao was fated for a fondness of agriculture. After settling in Hanford, Valadao’s father pioneered the family dairy business, further solidifying the family’s place in the industry. By attending local schools and staying heavily involved in the community, David Valadao was able to gain a respect and love for the district he would later represent.

Prior to representing California’s 21st Congressional District, Valadao was elected to represent California’s 30 th Assembly District, where he was first introduced to government and the political fight for growers and ranchers such as himself. After two years as an assemblyman, he successfully won his congressional seat in 2012, a seat he occupied for six consecutive years. While in office, Valadao could be spotted on the front lines of ag battles, advocating for issues such as water and immigration. With his heavy ag background, Valadao considers himself a farmer first. His daily routine largely consists of farm duties and tending to the dairy. “Farming is who I am, it's what I do, it’s my livelihood,” he exclaimed. Similar to agriculture, the congressman has a thriving relationship with Western Growers. Oftentimes, WG and the congressman are fighting identical fights, striving to achieve the same goal.

“Some of the Western Growers’ staff who worked with the administration are personal friends of mine,” he stated. “A lot of the board members are also close friends.” In addition to the personal relationship, Valadao and Western Growers have forged a professional relationship. Over the past 15 years, Western Growers has provided a customized benefits plan to meet the needs of the Valadao Dairy, through Western Growers Assurance Trust. While tackling the unforeseen obstacles of COVID- 19 has proven to be a monumental task, the congressman is more concerned with continuing his fight for his district, the state and the industry. “I’m not so concerned with the change in administration,” Valadao stressed. “For this industry, we have to get more creative with our asks. I have to work harder than I’ve ever worked and spend more time than I’ve ever spent to speak with every single constituent.”


December 2013: Valadao joins other legislators in authoring a letter to President Barack Obama and California Governor Jerry Brown asking for immediate action to address the dire effects of the drought on California.


From the start of his career, Valadao has encouraged his district to voice their concerns and needs. He often spends extensive amounts of his working hours prioritizing written responses to his constituents.



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June 2015: Valadao introduced bill H.R. 2989, the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015. This legislation permitted Congress to enact policies to expand water infrastructure, allowing for more water conveyance.


November 2015: As a champion for his constituents, ensuring easy accessibility to high quality, affordable care has remained at the top of Valadao’s priority list. He received the Champion of Healthcare Innovation Award from the Healthcare Leadership Council.


April 2018: Valadao joined other legislators in urging House leadership to conduct a vote to secure the nation’s borders and deliver a legislative solution to DACA recipients.

October 2018: Valadao is standing beside President Trump as he signs an executive action to ensure the entire Western United States has access to a reliable water supply.

Valadao joined Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Assemblyman James Gallagher, Rep. Doug LaMalfa, Rep. Jeff Denham, and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to announce the U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to Sites Reservoir Project Authority. This project dramatically increases the flexibility of California’s water supply infrastructure.


October 2020: Dedicated to maintaining his relationship with his constituents, Valadao held a COVID-19 friendly “drive-by campaign rally” to meet and thank community members.

November 2020: Valadao wins the House race in California’s 21 st Congressional District, reclaiming his seat to represent the Central Valley.



Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

Doomscrolling Stops Here: How Ag Companies Can Flip the Script While Strengthening Their Brand By Stephanie Metzinger, Communications Manager Business tycoon Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” His teaching rings even more true in today’s “new normal,” where COVID-19 has significantly increased the use of technology, digital platforms and social media.

When coronavirus triggered a nationwide lockdown in March 2020 and consumers were forced to spend more time at home, activity on all major social networks— Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok—soared. According to the Harris

your audience and take proactive steps to provide them with the information they crave. With more eyes surveying what companies are doing, mastering the tools to protect your brand reputation is key. Below are three

Poll, 51% of U.S. adults have been using social media more since the outbreak began. The crisis has reinvigorated

guidelines on how to strengthen your digital presence during this pandemic. Silence Is Not Always Golden


social media, presenting farming and agriculture companies with an opportunity to speak directly to consumers about their food supply. The public wants to know that they have a stable food supply—and

When a crisis strikes, many companies tend to either say too much or nothing at all. Neither of those tactics works—especially in the food and ag industry where consumers rely on our products daily. Check in regularly with your audience, letting them know that a disaster such as COVID-19 has not impacted your ability and dedication to

there is no better person to tell the story than the farmers who produce it. As consumers are “doomscrolling,” or consuming an endless procession of negative

growing and delivering fresh produce. Earn Trust through High-Quality Content The pandemic has caused a boom in video-sharing as

online news, farms can get in front of the news. Rather than wait for a misleading statement by media to go viral and ultimately damage your brand, be transparent with

WHO DID IT RIGHT: Between Facebook and Instagram, HMC Farms allows consumers to journey to the farm by sharing “show-and-tell” type videos that cover topics such as trialing an autonomous wheel barrow and explaining how plastic is used as an umbrella to protect the grapes.

Del Bosque Farms and John Boelts of Desert Premium Farms leverage their Twitter accounts to post photos that give an “inside look” into their crops/fields as well as short videos about everyday farm happenings. For example, one of Del Bosque Farms’ most powerful posts was a 3-second video demonstrating how “First thing in the morning, our team washes their hands. Every team member washes their hands at least six times every day.”



Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

more diverse audiences are creating and uploading videos to the internet to “mentally escape” during the pandemic. To cut through the clutter, brands need to keep up with this accelerated pace. Providing content rich with valuable information—whether it be a video that humanizes your brand, images paired with an impactful caption or sharing an article link with your personal analysis—is how you build and maintain trust with your audience. Build Credibility by Elevating Employees The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that, for the first time in history, consumers trust peers just as much as subject matter experts and more than CEOs, governments and academics. With this in mind, showcasing your employees and featuring their voices on your social media channels can greatly strengthen your brand in the eyes of consumers. Beyond COVID-19, these three principles can be applied to all types of crises. If you need support in applying these guidelines to your company, please reach out to me or one of our communications team members at communications@wga.com or (949) 885-2256.

WHO DID IT RIGHT: Innovative Produce utilized Instagram to share short videos of their field workers and office staff

WHO DID IT RIGHT: Mission Produce used Instagram to post photos of their team members—from the sales team and food safety experts to packing house employees and field representatives—with accompanying captions assuring their audience “that the world’s finest avocados will still be on their grocery store shelves.”

speaking candidly,

in both Spanish and English, about the impacts of COVID-19 and how grateful they are to agricultural workers for helping bring food to the table during the pandemic. The company also weaves in images of employees practicing COVID-19 safety measures including temperature checks, social distancing and wearing face coverings.



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