Western Agricultural Coalition Warns of Rural Economic Upheaval Without Effective Deployment of Drought Response Funding

Seven organizations offer the federal government immediate assistance in implementing the $4 billion set aside in the Inflation Reduction Act

In a letter sent to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, a coalition of agricultural organizations offered their support, assistance and counsel for the immediate implementation of drought funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Key coalition principles include:

The Bureau of Reclamation should quickly release a Notice of Funding Availability with guidance to water managers currently developing drought response proposals and urgently deploy that funding to address the most critical needs.

As the Bureau of Reclamation develops a plan to deploy drought funding, they should work with local water managers, set goals focused on driving the voluntary participation needed, and keep the process, selection criteria and any necessary agreements simple and transparent.

Any program designed to temporarily reduce agricultural water use must recognize the value of lost production, the extended impact on the rural community and the cost of developing incremental new water supplies. It is also important to avoid any actions that result in permanent disruptions to our long-tern capacity to produce the food and fiber that is relied upon in the U.S. and across the globe.

Agriculture should not be the only sector expected to reduce water use for the benefit of river systems. Urban planners and water users must also seriously address growth and reduce overall use or diversions to protect these systems.

Here is the letter:

Dear Secretary Haaland and Commissioner Touton:

Throughout the Western United States, dire challenges are being faced by agricultural water users in the Colorado River Basin, California’s Central Valley, the Klamath Basin, the Columbia River Basin and its tributaries in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, the Rogue River Basin in southern Oregon, and the Great Basin. We could dedicate reams of pages describing the agonizing plight faced by the farmers and ranchers and the rural communities in these areas. 

As you know, Western water managers are actively responding to extreme drought. This is forcing unprecedented actions by local water purveyors and agricultural producers to react to significant water shortages. In the Colorado River Basin, the Bureau of Reclamation recently declared the first ever Tier 2a shortage and is calling for a total of 2 to 4 million acre-feet to protect critical levels in Lakes Mead and Powell. In recent months, many of our local producers and water managers with senior water rights have been engaged in a thoughtful effort to develop plans to protect the Colorado River system. 

Like you, we were pleased to see that Congress recognized the dire situation by appropriating $4 billion to respond to the ongoing Western drought. We now urge the Biden Administration to move quickly to implement the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and other available drought funding to use on the ground. 

Beyond the urgency of the dire hydrologic situation faced in many Western watersheds, this prompt action is essential for a variety of other reasons. Significant time and effort are being put into the development of response plans. For those to result in meaningful progress, it is essential to understand the key factors that will be considered by the Department in providing any future financial assistance. The ability of agricultural producers to participate in any voluntary, compensated water reduction program becomes much more difficult, if not impossible, if not initiated and implemented soon. This is due to the timeframes associated with contracting, purchasing, and planting of crops for the coming year. This is particularly important in areas like the Imperial Valley in California and Yuma, Arizona, where large-scale winter-time agricultural production occurs. The process and timing for distributing drought response funding must recognize and be responsive to this reality. 

We write today to encourage you, as a first step, to work with our organizations and members to quickly release a Notice of Funding Availability with guidance to water managers currently developing drought response proposals and quickly deploy that funding to address the most urgent needs. As you develop a plan to deploy drought funding, we also encourage you to consider the following:

  • Work with local water managers to articulate the considerations and approaches to utilizing funding so that the modification or development of viable plans results in desired and defensible outcomes for all engaged; 
  • In basins where voluntary water reductions might occur, any program should set goals focused on driving the participation needed to produce measurable volumes of wet water. Local water managers should also be enabled to decide what management actions will be taken to achieve targets;
  • Keep the process, selection criteria, and any necessary agreements simple and transparent. Requiring prescriptive, complicated, or overly restrictive requirements or agreements will slow progress and reduce participation in programs;
  • Any program designed to temporarily reduce agricultural water use must recognize the value of lost production, the extended impact on the rural community, and the cost of developing incremental new water supplies. It is also critical to avoid any actions that result in profound, long-term economic damage to Western communities as well as the long-term capacity to produce food and fiber that is relied upon across the globe. There are a limited number of places where the climate, soil, and open space overlap. We must ensure that any water solution does not lead to a food supply problem for our nation; and Agriculture should not be the only sector expected to reduce water use for the benefit of river systems. Urban planners and water users must also seriously address growth and reduce overall use or diversions, as opposed to per capita reductions, to protect these systems. The government must also reevaluate the true environmental water needs of river systems in light of projected ongoing drought conditions throughout most of the Western U.S.

Adhering to the recommendations provided above will help ensure that agricultural water users can be meaningful partners in our collective effort to manage water supply and protect important supply systems in exceptionally dry times like those we face now, from the headwaters in the upper basin to the last user in the lower basin.

In addition to focusing on critically needed, near-term steps to endure the current drought, it is essential that we also continue to advance solutions that will improve water management in the long-term. These opportunities include forest restoration activities that improve the health and productivity of our watersheds that are severely out of balance, robust conservation and efficiency measures, and augmentation of supply ranging from groundwater development and recycling to new conveyance and storage, where appropriate. To this end, the immediate deployment of IRA drought response funding will perfectly complement longer-term investments made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), IRA Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Forest Service funding, and other programs. Together, these opportunities present an integrated approach that will boost short, medium, and long-term drought response, preparedness, and resilience for both farms and communities across the West.  

Lastly, we urge you to continue to bring all water users together to develop solutions and ensure agriculture has a place at the table. There has been an unfortunate narrative lately that demonizes irrigation and minimizes the importance of domestic food production. Recent letters and comments by some in the West are clearly designed to encourage moving significant volumes of water offfarm for other uses. These unfortunate portrayals fail to recognize that in many cases their proposals will make senior water rights available as a mechanism to benefit junior water users by preventing cuts that would otherwise be required under water laws. 

This also comes at a time when agricultural water users are busy developing voluntary proposals to help respond to these dire drought conditions that will result in financial losses for many individual family farms, and the rural communities in which they live, if proper compensation is not provided. In addition to the many Western communities and cultures that sustain the American food supply being at risk, we are also jeopardizing the highest labor, crop protection, and food safety standards in the world while simultaneously exacerbating climate change and food insecurity by increasing our avoidable reliance upon imports. 

Protecting the agricultural economy, Western urban and rural communities, and a healthy aquatic environment not only benefits the West, it benefits the entire Nation. For that reason, our members across the West are stepping up, at their own expense, to provide solutions for the viability of their basins and the communities those basins serve. In many cases, that means making senior water rights voluntarily available in order to benefit junior water users. This prevents cuts that would otherwise be required under water laws and, in most cases, would provide immediate measurable protections for the water supply system as a whole. Urban, agricultural, and environmental water users would all benefit from such efforts in the short and long-term. 

Our organizations look forward to working with you further to advance the recommendations included in this letter. 

If you have questions or concerns about this letter, please do not hesitate to contact Dan Keppen (dan@familyfarmalliance.org).

Sincerely,
Agribusiness and Water Council of Arizona
Arizona Farm Bureau Federation
California Farm Bureau
Colorado Farm Bureau
Family Farm Alliance
Oregon Farm Bureau
Western Growers

2022-08-29T15:52:23-07:00August 29th, 2022|

Farm Employees Must Be Protected from Wildfire Smoke

 

Cal/OSHA Reminds Employers of Wildfire Smoke Standards to Protect Workers

By Jason Resnick, Western Growers Sr. Vice President and General Council

As wildfires continue to rampage throughout California, Cal/OSHA is reminding employers that the state’s protection from wildfire smoke standard requires them to take steps to protect their workers from the resulting unhealthy air.

Wildfire

Hazardous smoke from wildfire

The greatest hazard from workers comes from breathing fine particles in the air – called PM2.5 – which can worsen pre-existing heart and lung conditions and cause wheezing and difficulty breathing. PM2.5 is tracked via the local air quality index (AQI), and it can be monitored via websites like the U.S. EPA’s AirNow or local air quality management district websites.

If the AQI for PM2.5 is 151 or greater, employers must take the following steps to protect employees:

  • Communication – Inform employees of the AQI for PM2.5 and the protective measures available to them.
  • Training and Instruction – Provide effective training and instruction to all employees on the information contained in section 5141.1 Appendix B.
  • Modifications – Implement modifications to the workplace, if feasible, to reduce exposure. Examples include providing enclosed structures or vehicles for employees to work in, where the air is filtered.
  • Changes – Implement practicable changes to work procedures or schedules. Examples include changing the location where employees work or reducing the amount of time they work outdoors or exposed to unfiltered outdoor air.
  • Respiratory protection – Provide proper respiratory protection equipment, such as disposable respirators, for voluntary use.
    • To filter out fine particles, respirators must be labeled N-95, N-99, N-100, R-95, P-95, P-99, or P-100, and must be labeled as approved by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

To assist employers with identifying available supplies of respirators, Cal/OSHA is maintaining a list of vendors who have confirmed they have at least 100,000 NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirators in stock and available for purchase and delivery.

If the AQI for PM2.5 exceeds 500 due to wildfire smoke, respirator use is required. Employers must ensure employees use respirators and implement a respiratory protection program as required in California’s respiratory standard. For information or help on developing a respiratory protection program, see Cal/OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Fact Sheet.

Click here to read the California Department of Industrial Relations’ full press release.

2021-08-23T20:05:55-07:00August 23rd, 2021|

Produce Passes All Residue Testing in 2017

FDA Produce Residue Sampling “Once Again” Verifies Safety

Last week the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its 2017 pesticide residue sampling data results. FDA concluded: “The latest set of results demonstrate once again that the majority of the foods we test are well below the federal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Note the term “once again” in FDA’s statement. They used it because government residue sampling data year after year reaffirms the safety of our food and the exceptionally high level of compliance among farmers with laws and regulations covering the use of organic and conventional pesticides.

Let’s get a little technical for a moment and focus on how FDA residue sampling is protective of consumers. FDA employs a three-fold strategy to enforce the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tolerances or safety standards for pesticide residues.
If you haven’t heard – September is National Fruit and Vegetable month. Yes, it is time to celebrate the only food group health experts and nutritionists agree we should all eat more of every day for better health and a longer life.
While decades of studies have shown the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables are overwhelming and significant, the safety of both organic and conventional produce is also impressive. Government sampling data shows an over 99% compliance rate among farmers with the laws and regulations required for pesticide applications on organic and conventional fruit and vegetable crops. This led the United States Department of Agriculture to state that: “The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world.”

Many health organizations are promoting National Fruit and Vegetable month to remind consumers about the importance of increasing consumption – only one in 10 of us eat enough of these nutrient-packed foods each day.

However, studies show a growing barrier to consumption is fear-based messaging which inaccurately calls into question the safety of the more affordable and accessible fruits and veggies. This messaging is predominantly carried by the same activist groups year after year despite studies which show that “prescriptions” for fruits and veggies could reduce health care costs by $40 billion annually. Or that 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year.

2019-09-23T15:06:22-07:00September 23rd, 2019|

Western Growers Statement on California DPR Ban on Chlorpyrifos

Tom Nassif: CA Farmers Face the Most Stringent Regulations in the World

By Cory Lunde, Western Growers

In response to the recent announcement that the California Department of Pesticide Residue (DPR) is acting to ban the use of the insecticide chlorpyrifos, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued the following statement:

“California farmers are universally committed to the safety of their food, the health of their workers and communities, and the sustainability of their land. At every turn, they strive to achieve efficiencies in their use of resources like water, fertilizer, and pesticides and seek to minimize both the human and environmental impacts of these inputs.

immigration reform

Tom Nassif

“California farmers also face the most stringent regulatory environment in the world, one that often limits their access to many of the tools still available to farmers elsewhere in the U.S. and in foreign countries, including certain types of pesticides. Indeed, over the last 20 years, California regulatory actions have removed several of the most important crop protection tools farmers rely on to fight pests and diseases.

“With … [the] announcement that DPR will initiate the cancellation of chlorpyrifos, one of the most widely studied and globally approved insecticides, California farmers now stand to lose yet another arrow in their quiver—without effective and ready replacement tools—making their quest to grow the safest, healthiest and most abundant food supply in the world even more difficult.

“California farmers are resilient, but the long-term viability of our farms in California depends on proper support from the Administration and renewed cooperation of the state’s regulatory agencies, especially in light of the many other unique and expensive regulations that place California farmers at a growing competitive disadvantage.”

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00May 22nd, 2019|

Tom Nassif: Ag Immigration Reform is Critical

All Fruits and Vegetables Harvested by Foreign Hands

By Cory Lunde, Western Growers Assoc. Director of Strategic Initiatives and Communications

Recently, Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif detailed the critical labor shortages facing American agriculture and laid out the case for agricultural immigration reform before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship.

In his testimony, Nassif stated that experienced workers are aging out of the agricultural workforce, with few Americans lining up to take their place, despite wages well above state and federal minimums. Farmers in all sectors of U.S. agriculture, especially in the labor-intensive fruit and vegetable industries, are experiencing chronic labor shortages, which have been exacerbated by recent interior immigration enforcement and tighter border security policies.

As a result of the uncertain agricultural labor market, Nassif explained, many American farmers are either shifting toward more mechanized crops or moving their operations to other countries.

“The simple fact is this,” Nassif said, “fruits and vegetables that are eaten in the United States will be harvested by foreign hands.”

He continued: “The simple question for you, as members of Congress, is do you want those foreign hands harvesting your fruits and vegetables to be on farms here in the United States or do you want to see production continue to shift to farms in foreign countries?”

After touching on the existing, flawed H-2A agricultural guest worker program, rife with burdensome regulatory red tape, Nassif outlined a two-pronged proposal for agricultural immigration reform that jointly provides a pathway to legalization for existing farmworkers and their immediate families and creates a more flexible, efficient and market-based agricultural worker visa program to ensure a sufficient future flow of labor.

Nassif concluded that while “immigration can be among the most divisive and difficult to resolve in Washington,” this issue is decidedly non-partisan, as agricultural immigration reform is really about securing the future of American agriculture and, by extension, long-term U.S. food security.

Western Growers appreciates the efforts of Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and Ranking Member Ken Buck to elevate the dialogue around this vital issue, and we look forward to working across the aisle to advance bipartisan legislation that provides our country and farmers with a legal, stable and reliable source of agricultural labor.

2019-04-16T15:40:09-07:00April 16th, 2019|

OSHA 300A Log Posting Due Feb. 1

OSHA Log Summary Must Be Posted in Common Areas

News Release from Western Growers Association

OSHA’s Form 300A logs with work-related injuries and illnesses occurring in the prior calendar year must be posted. All eligible employers are required to maintain and post an annual OSHA 300A summary sheet from February 1 to April 30.

February 1 marks the deadline for you to tabulate your annual OSHA Log Summary (OSHA Form 300A) and post it in a common area wherever notices to employees are usually posted. The summary must list the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during the previous calendar year and were logged on the OSHA 300 Form. The summary should remain posted until April 30. Instructions on how to complete both the log and annual summaries of work-related injuries and illnesses can be downloaded for free from Cal/OSHA’s Record Keeping Overview. The definitions and requirements for recordable work-related fatalities, injuries and illnesses are outlined in the California Code of Regulations, Title 8, sections 14300 through 14300.48. Employers are required to complete and post Form 300A even if no workplace injuries occurred.

Employers with 10 or less employees or who work in low-hazard industries are not required to post their summary. Additional details regarding eligibility for the exemption can be found on the OSHA Injury Tracking Application webpage.

Electronic Reporting Requirement

Additionally, many employers are required to also submit their OSHA 300A information electronically. The classes of business who must comply with the electronic reporting process include:

  1. Any business with at least 250 employees.
  2. Any business with 20 to 249 employees who falls into one of several classifications including agriculture. (A complete list of the affected classifications can be found here.)

Affected employers are advised to submit their 2018 OSHA 300A data through the Fed-OSHA portal by the March 2 deadline. Updates regarding the 300A reporting requirements can be found here.

For instructions regarding the electronic filing process, please see federal OSHA’s ITA website.

2019-02-01T16:55:33-08:00February 1st, 2019|

President’s Order Restores Western Water Supplies

Farm Bureau, CA Farm Water Coalition, Family Farm Alliance and Western Growers Support Order

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Last week, President Trump provided welcome relief to Western farmers, cities, rural communities and wildlife refuges that have struggled under water supply rules that are long overdue for an update. Prioritizing national interest and the value of California food production, the president’s order requires the re-consultation of the biological opinions to be completed and fully implemented by August 2019.

The deadline will bring to a close the review of rules governing the long-term operation of the federal Central Valley Project and California State Water Project. The review has been underway since August 2016, a process the order requires to be concluded by Aug. 31, 2019.

The president’s action fulfills his campaign commitment to help solve the state’s water supply shortages and will greatly benefit Central Valley communities and the environment. Since 1992, water supply restrictions have caused severe economic consequences for farms and the people who depend on them for work. Many of the state’s most disadvantaged communities have suffered due to scarce water supplies.temperance flat dam

Wildlife refuges that are a critical component of the Pacific Flyway have had insufficient water to meet the needs of millions of ducks, geese, shorebirds, songbirds and endangered animals in large parts of the Central Valley and the Klamath Basin. An ongoing review of the rules governing these critical water supplies only delays the ability of these important areas to recover.

This action will also help address water shortages that have occurred across the West as the result of federal regulations overseen by multiple agencies. It offers hope to farmers and ranchers served by federal water projects in the Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia Basin and the Klamath Basin. The president’s order places the responsibility of operating the federal water projects with the Department of the Interior, to be supported by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The action prohibits any impacts to threatened or endangered species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

This issue has been scrutinized by the Executive Branch as far back as 2011. At that time, President Obama observed that the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in freshwater, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. Those overlapping jurisdictions have only slowed efforts to help the fish.

A committee convened by the National Research Council also studied this matter a few years ago. The NRC found that the lack of a systematic, well-framed overall analysis between the two services is “a serious scientific deficiency, and it likely is related to the ESA’s practical limitations as to the scope of actions that can or must be considered in a single biological opinion.”

Improved coordination between federal agencies will promote more efficient, effective and coordinated management of all ESA responsibilities for anadromous and freshwater fish in Western watersheds, from the highest reaches of our headwaters to the Pacific Ocean.

“This action is an important and common-sense move that will benefit Western farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods depend on federal water projects,” said Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm Alliance. “It’s a practical and assertive change to Western water management and species recovery that our membership strongly supports.”

California’s GOP congressional delegation from the Central Valley played an important role in identifying the problems in the state’s water system and worked closely with the Trump administration to produce a solution that is consistent with federal law and will improve the water delivery system.

“There’s no question that the Central Valley has lagged behind the economic recovery experienced in other parts of the state. We’re optimistic that these changes will not only help improve water supplies for farms, farm-related businesses, and disadvantaged rural communities, they will provide the incentive to put science-based solutions to work to help recover iconic native fish species that have suffered under the existing regulatory approach,” said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

“This is a common-sense improvement to a process that has been abused in the past by regulatory agencies seeking to impose a scientifically-unsound regime on water users that ultimately, by design, de-irrigates some of the highest quality farmland in the world. This move by the Administration simply ensures that the process of revising the rules governing Delta water operations will be less vulnerable to regulatory abuse,” said Tom Nassif, president of the Western Growers Association.

“Implementation of the Endangered Species Act can be better for both species and people, and the president’s action moves us in that direction,” California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson said. “It’s time to grow beyond the culture of conflict that has governed California water for too long. We need streamlined solutions that benefit species and that benefit both the farmers who provide California-grown food and farm products and everyone who depends on those products.”

2021-05-12T11:05:09-07:00October 26th, 2018|

WG Center for Innovation and Tech Celebrates Three Years

WG Center Brings Technology to Ag

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Western Growers Association’s WG Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas is turning three years old. Dennis Donahue, mayor of Salinas from 2006 to 2012 and currently the consulting director at the center, spoke to California Ag Today recently about the anniversary.

This center houses more than 50 ag-tech startup companies and is a hub for new developments in ag-tech with services ranging from infield robotics to renewable energy.

“The reality is you have to be making progress on all these things all the time,” Donahue said.fsma food safety flags in the field mean stop harvest here

The agriculture industry as a whole is facing many problems, including water supply, labor supply, water quality, and crop protection. And that’s why it’s so crucial for these startups to keep coming up with these new innovative solutions.

“Labor is a challenge because it’s getting tougher,” Donahue said. “The cost issues are—the supply issues are—intensifying, so that puts a lot of pressure on the automation piece and proof of concept, particularly in the field.”

“How do you get something crop off the ground, out of an orchard or clipped from a vineyard? That’s going to occupy a lot of time, cost efficiency, and technology. Those things are at best with some focus at three- to five-year play, and our problems may come a little sooner,” Donahue explained.

“California agriculture and the folks we deal with in the Western Growers network are bound and determined to address these problems. We often get a real dose of realism. ‘Look, here are the issues. Here are some of the things that haven’t been working well, and we need to work better, and we need to work faster.’ But, there’s no quittin’ the dog. You know, I think the industry is fully engaged, understands the challenges, and we’ve got a pretty good group of people determined to meet them on both the ag and technology side.”

2021-05-12T11:05:09-07:00October 4th, 2018|

Gerawan Statement on the Results of the November 5, 2013 Decertification Election

The following statement was issued on September 18, 2018, by Gerawan Farming Inc. regarding TODAY’S Decertification Election Ballot Count

Fresno, CA — Our employees have been waiting since November 2013 for their votes to be counted. After a historic struggle, they achieved that right today, in spite of the efforts by the UFW and the millions of taxpayer dollars spent by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to deny them that right.

The final vote count was 1,098 “No Union,” and 197 for the UFW.  The employees overwhelmingly rejected the UFW as their bargaining representative – by a 5 to 1 margin – in spite of the ALRB’s last-minute, election day refusal to count approximately 640 ballots challenged by the UFW.

A secret ballot election is intended to embody and reflect the workers’ fundamental right to choose their representation. That right is at the heart of what the Agricultural Labor Relations Act is designed to protect and promote. Today’s vote tally leaves no doubt what our employees want.  It is a ringing endorsement of their right to choose, and a repudiation of concerted, unlawful, and anti-democratic efforts to deny them that right.

We call on the UFW and the ALRB to respect the choices of farmworkers, to certify the results of the election, and to decertify the UFW.  We call on the Legislature and the Governor to take immediate steps to ensure that the ALRB’s violation of the basic human rights of farmworkers never occurs again in California.

CONTACT: David Schwarz

(310) 277-1010

DSchwarz@irell.com

Featured Photo:  Silvia Lopez, Gerawan Farm Employee, listens to the Sept. 18, 2018 Ballot Count of Nov. 2013 Decertification Election.

2018-09-18T17:24:54-07:00September 18th, 2018|

Steve Patricio Honored for Significant Contributions to Agriculture

Western Growers will award Patricio the prestigious 2018 Award of Honor on October 30

News Release Edited by Patrick Cavanaugh

Western Growers will honor Steve Patricio, whose visionary leadership has advanced the agricultural industry by leaps and bounds, with the 2018 Award of Honor. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of industry achievement and is given to individuals who have contributed extensively to the agricultural community.

“Steve has been a tireless advocate for agriculture, and his ability to turn some of the most tumultuous challenges that our industry has faced over the past few decades into opportunities is unmatched,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. “He has already left a tremendous legacy as someone who shoulders the responsibility of igniting change that advances the industry as a whole.”

Steve Patricio to be Honored by Western Growers Association

Patricio, the Chief Financial Officer of Westside Produce, based in Los Banos, is being recognized for his immeasurable leadership and contribution to the agricultural industry, making significant advancements in food safety and the protection of public health. Steve led the creation of the first-ever mandatory food safety compliance program for the California cantaloupe industry, as well as helped raise millions of dollars to fund research geared toward preventing foodborne illness. He also played an integral role in the establishment of the California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreements, which today have become the model for produce safety and accountability.

“When you look at the success of California agriculture, Steve is a true representative of why the ag community is as successful as it is today,” said Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director of the Center for Produce Safety. “He truly embodies passion and proactivity, and his commitment to food safety to benefit both the consumer and industry is unlike any other.”

Patricio’s tenacity does not just stop at food safety. Patricio has spent countless hours throughout his 45-year tenure in the industry advocating for a sustainable supply of water for farmers to grow the food that feeds the state, nation, and world. He has taken every opportunity, as he did when he was asked to join former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the San Luis Reservoir, to call attention to the need for more surface water storage and stress the need for a comprehensive water solution. Furthermore, Patricio launched the industry’s first orientation program for agribusinesses that focused exclusively on water rights.

“Steve has one of the brightest minds and quickest wit in the industry,” said Bob Gray, past chairman of Western Growers and former president/CEO of California Ag Leadership Foundation. “He is a contributor of substance, and the expertise and competence he has brought regarding food safety and water have made major impacts for the industry.”

A Los Banos-native, Patricio is deeply involved in the community and industry. He has served as chairman for Western Growers, Center for Produce Safety, California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, and Monrovia Nursery Company. He has also held leadership positions at Western Growers Assurance Trust, Monsanto Vegetable Seeds Advisory Council and the Produce Marketing Association.

“I was speechless when I found out I was selected for this award,” Patricio said. “I never thought that, at the end of it all, I would be a farmer or involved in this honorable and wonderful world that I am so engaged in today. I often tell youth that your career chooses you, and because I followed the path life decided to take me on, I am proud to say that I am a farmer. I couldn’t imagine being in any other industry.”

Patricio’s accomplishments and passion for shaping the ag industry will be recognized at the Award of Honor Dinner Gala at the Western Growers Annual Meeting on October 30 in Palm Desert, CA.  There, Patricio will be honored by his peers, friends, and family. To attend the ceremony, visit http://www.wgannualmeeting.com/.

2018-07-13T12:48:34-07:00July 13th, 2018|
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