Rainy Weather - Western Growers Association


Rainy Weather - Western Growers Association


Western Grower Shipper

MARCH 2010

Fresh produce from our families to yours

Data Gaps Need Filling




Rainy Weather


Western Grower Shipper




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MARCH 2010

Fresh produce from our families to yours

To enhance the


and profitability of

Western Growers



NOTES Tom Nassif

President and CEO, Western Growers

The Shot Heard ‘Round the World’

4 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

I don’t think any of us really saw it

coming. The turnover of “the Kennedy

Senate Seat” in one of the bluest states

in the Union to a little-known Republican

has started a political tsunami in

Washington D.C. and across the nation.

Some are calling it a miracle, comparing

it to America’s War of Independence

when the greatest military power on

earth was capsized by a rag-tag militia

of colonists determined to throw off the

boot of tyranny.

The election of Scott Brown to the U.S.

Senate on Jan. 19 certainly commands attention.

I see it as a wake up call to those in government,

elected or appointed; who have acted

like government is the answer to our problems;

more government, more regulations, more

spending, more debt. It is not. The protection

of our liberty and the opportunity for each individual

to create, work and produce something

from the sweat of his, or her, own brow and

brain is what will lift us out of this economic

recession. Government needs to get out of the

way and let the private sector do what it does

best - create jobs - instead of creating more

programs and deficits.

I have spent the last year, along with my

staff here in Irvine and in Washington, D.C.,

working with the new Administration. We

have collaborated and cooperated as much

as possible with legislators whose priority last

year was all about reforming healthcare and

imposing a cap and trade tax on energy – both

big government programs. We said “no” even

though we were cautioned that objections to

the agenda of the “supermajority” and the

White House would be met with a cold shoulder

and a closed door.

To keep the door open, we worked harder

and longer than I have ever remembered. We

had dozens of drafts and thousands of pages

of bills to read, analyze and negotiate and

little time in which to do it. Last August in this

column I wrote that “the rapid pace with which

Obama and his team are running major legislation

through Congress is too much, too soon.”

It now appears that most of America agrees.

We will not accept that increased government

regulation will be our new reality, because there

is nothing in that new world for us except

the loss of liberty, higher taxes and fees, more

public debt, more regulations with ambiguous

benefits, and the abdication of self-determination

to public sector functionaries.

This is why Western Growers opposes climate

change legislation, healthcare reform, and

why we did not accept proposed food safety

legislation as inevitable. How can anyone support

a bill or law that cannot first clearly define

the problem it will solve, describe the benefit

and outcome it will produce, and identify the

honest cost it will exact on all stakeholders?

Our forefathers recognized that tyranny

comes in many forms, and struggled long and

hard to craft a Constitution and Bill of Rights

that puts the power in the hands of the people,

not the president or the military or a political

party. The recent election in Massachusetts is

an undeniable message from the people to the

“patrons” who think they know what is best

for us all – “You govern by the consent of the

governed; for the people and by the people. Do

not overstep your bounds, or you will be next.”

Let’s hope they listened and learned, for all our




Jack Pandol


Grapery Inc.

Bakersfield, Calif.

Director since: 2009

Member since: 2002


Jack Pandol grew up on the family ranch in Delano, son of the

well-known grape marketer of the same name. He went to UC

Davis, got a degree in production agriculture in 1976 and came

back to work in the family business, Pandol Bros. Inc. “I entertained

thoughts of being a doctor like my older brother and I also

thought about getting into the research end of agriculture. But

two quarters of working in a lab showed me that research didn’t fit

my temperament.” His father was an outgoing guy who made his

living on the sales desk so Jack Pandol also entertained that career

path. “My dad was always in sales and entertained people from all

over the world, inviting them over for dinner. Our house was like

the United Nations. I found that very fascinating, but the production

end of the business fit me better.”


Like many in agriculture, Jack was active in the political arena

on a local level participating in fundraisers and the like. When

Pete Wilson became governor and launched CAL EPA, he

promised agriculture he would put an ag man in the number two

position. Jack Pandol became his second undersecretary for CAL

EPA in 1993 and served until 1996. “It was the hardest job I’ve

ever had so three years in the political arena was enough for me.

It was very intense. Every single day was filled with phone calls

and meetings from one end of the day to the next. We knew that

every decision we made we were going to be sued over. It was

interesting work but very frustrating. A whole lot of hard work

would go into moving the ball just a few yards down the field.”


After the stint in Sacramento, Pandol returned to the southern

San Joaquin Valley and determined Pandol Bros. was operating

very well without him. “So I started my own table grape production

company, Grapery Inc. We sell the bulk of our production

through Pandol Bros., but we also use some other shippers and

even sell some of our production ourselves.”


“I really enjoy the production side of the business. The challenge

and science of coaxing a little bit more out of the plant each

year excites me. I probably only go to the office one day a week

for a couple of hours to sign checks. I think you need to be in the

field rather than an office so I have made my car my office, complete

with a laptop, a modem and a printer.”


Much of Pandol’s time and excitement is currently spent on

research as he partnered with Sunridge Nurseries almost a decade

ago to form International Fruit Genetics, which is busy developing

new grape varieties. “We patented our first three new varieties

in 2008.”


Pandol has also spent much of his time with his wife, Carolyn,

watching his two kids (Jack Jr. and Cici) compete in sports. But

now Jack is a junior in college studying politics and his daughter,

Cici, who is a senior in high school, is contemplating majoring in

international studies. Jack, who enjoys reading and snow skiing,

said the pending prospect of he and his wife becoming empty

nesters should lead to more travel time together.

“The challenge and science of coaxing

a little bit more out of the plant each year excites me.”

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 5



Troy Boutonnet

Vice President of Production

Ocean Mist Farms

Castroville, Calif.

Member since: 1943


Like many in agriculture, Troy Boutonnet is following in his

great grandfather, grandfather and father’s footsteps, subjecting

himself to a life filled with uncertainty, relief, joy and a sense of

accomplishment. All the while, the UC Davis and Purdue University

alumnus continues to brings a very clear passion to every

aspect of the family business.

“I was born and raised on the farm,” Boutonnet reminisced.

“My great-grandfather came over from France and was a potato


Today, the fourth generation Boutonnet oversees five general

managers in four different growing regions and is responsible

for the planting schedules for more than 24,000 acres of lettuces,

broccoli, cauliflower, celery, green onions, Brussels sprouts,

fennel, and other minor crops. He wears a number of different

hats, including vice president, production, Ocean Mist Farms;

president, Boutonnet Farms Inc.; president, Laguna Mist Farms;

co-founder /vice-president, Valley Pride Inc.; co-founder /general

manager, Baja Mist S.A. de C.V. (Mexico Corporation), and sits

on the board of directors for Ocean Mist.

Troy’s grandfather started Boutonnet Farms in 1936 and continued

to grow potatoes. He expanded his crops to include head

lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and artichokes. Troy’s father

entered the family business in the early 1960s, and the two elder

Boutonnet’s continued to grow in the Salinas Valley. They eventually

merged and emerged as partners with Ocean Mist Farms in

the late 1970s.

“I take a lot of pride in taking care of the ranches that have been

in my family for many years,” Boutonnet said.

6 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

Troy Boutonnet with his father, Ed.

Passion for a Family Business


For his part, Troy began working in the family business at the

ripe old age of 13. He prides himself on having endured every

possible job on the farm, from thinning and hoeing to working

for a surveyor and learning ranch design (grading, laser leveling,

irrigation and drain tile system layout). Yet there was one element

to the operation he was never exposed to until he left for college.

“My father told me to go to school to learn the business side,”

Boutonnet said. “They could teach me the production side.”

Besides that, Troy said, “I wanted to get out of California.”

He was eager to move on to Purdue University for his graduate

work because he wanted to experience life away from home. He

fondly recalls his time at Purdue, explaining that he thoroughly

enjoyed his exposure to Midwest culture. More importantly,

Boutonnet was focused on getting a strong business education

and was attracted to Purdue’s business program. With an MSM in

Strategic Management to his credit, he returned to where his heart

was – the family farm.


“Upon graduation from my Masters program, I became an assistant

ranch manager (glorified equipment and tractor mover),” he

said. It wasn’t long, however, before Boutonnet was running the

day-to-day operations of all 1,800 acres of Boutonnet’s ranches.

And it’s the day-to-day operations on the farm where Troy seems

to be happiest.

“I love the outdoors and the ever-changing lifecycles of the

plants,” Boutonnet said. “Farming is like my office outdoors.”


Though he exudes great pride in providing

a quality, safe product to families

around the nation and throughout the

world, Boutonnet notes his is an industry

under siege. He recognizes three major

issues - water, labor and food safety - that

must be addressed in order for California

to sustain its number one industry – agriculture.

“Every geographic region we grow in

(Salinas, Huron, Oxnard and Mexico), we

have some sort of water issue,” said Boutonnet

said. “Decisions need to be made

to address the growing population of the

U.S.; how do you fix these problems? With

commons sense.”

He called out the delta smelt issue and

the biological opinions that need to be reexamined.

He noted the saltwater intrusion

issues they deal with in Oxnard. “I

even have water issues in Mexico,” Boutonnet


To compound the water issues, Troy said,

“We have a finite pool of labor.” He said

there are still shortages out there and that

AgJOBS provides a reasonable solution

for agriculture’s labor issues. “We don’t

have any caucasians applying for jobs,” he

said. “In Yuma, half our labor is covered

by H-2A because we cannot get a reliable

labor supply down there.”

Boutonnet says he and his team spent

countless hours training the field workers

on what is required of them from a food

safety perspective; food safety being an

issue that he and his partner, Joe Pezzini,

have worked tirelessly on.

“I think we have gone a long way in the

industry with the LGMA (Leafy Greens

Marketing Agreement) in California and

Arizona,” Boutonnet said.

Both he and Pezzini, who have been

partners since the 1980s, have been very

much engaged with California’s LGMA

and Boutonnet says he supports a national


“It’s got to be based on sound science,”

he said.


When he’s not figuring out how he’s

going to get all his thousands of acres irrigated

or how he’s going to ensure there

is proper labor coverage in the fields or

participating with the development of leafy

greens standards, Boutonnet is either with

his family, including his wife, Susie, and

his four children (Garrett, 17; Morgan,15;

Kirtee, 13; Marshall 6), or he is working

with one of his four cutting horses.

Cutting is an equestrian event where a

horse and rider are judged on their ability

to separate a single animal away from a

cattle herd and keep it away for a period of

time. Boutonnet has been competing in

cutting for more than 10 years.


With his children getting older, Troy says

he is not sure if any of them will end up

working for the family business; however,

the seeds of farming have been planted in

all of them and they may just be taking

root with little Marshall.

“My six-year old shows the most passion,”

Boutonnet said. “I see the same

passion between him and his garden as I

do when I see a successful crop.”

That passion has carried Boutonnet

throughout his career, and it is that passion,

which will ensure Ocean Mist, Boutonnet

Farms and all the other entities will

continue to thrive for many years to come.

“I love the outdoors

and the ever-changing

lifecycles of the plants.

Farming is like my office





THOMAS D. DEARDORFF II, Senior Vice Chairman


JOHN S. MANFRE, Treasurer

STEPHEN J. BARNARD, Executive Secretary




Uesugi Farms, Inc., Gilroy, California



Barkley Ag Enterprises LLP, Yuma, Arizona


Mission Produce, Inc., Oxnard, California


Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., Monterey, California


Bengard Ranch, Salinas, California


Cove Ranch Management, Reedley, California


Booth Ranches LLC, Orange Cove, California



Chandler Farms LP, Selma, California


Lawrence Cox Ranches, Brawley, California


Danna & Danna, Inc., Yuba City, California


D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, Salinas, California


Deardorff Family Farms, Oxnard, California



Rio Farms, King City, California


Harry Singh & Sons, Oceanside, California


Mann Packing Company, Salinas, California


LoBue Bros., Inc., Lindsay, California



Ramsay Highlander, Inc., Gonzales, California


Frank Capurro and Son, Moss Landing, California


San Ysidro Farms, Inc., Guadalupe, California


HMC Farms, Kingsburg, California


Prime Time International, Coachella, California


The Nunes Company, Salinas, California




Pasquinelli Produce Co., Yuma, Arizona


Westside Produce, Firebaugh, California


Perez Packing, Inc., Firebaugh, California


Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, California


Bonipak Produce, Santa Maria, California



Rousseau Farming Co., Tolleson, Arizona


Turlock Fruit Co., Turlock, California


Fresh Innovations LLC, Yuma, Arizona


Visalia Citrus Packing Group LP, Visalia, California


Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Missouri


Talley Farms, Arroyo Grande, California


Taylor Farms California, Salinas, California


Teixeira Farms, Inc., Santa Maria, California



Vessey and Company, Inc., Holtville, California

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 7


A Year Later, No End in Sight to Retaliatory Action

By Tim Linden

About a year ago, Mexico was tired of

waiting for the United States to comply

with a NAFTA panel ruling on transportation

so it slapped some unseemly

tariffs on dozens of items.

In the fresh produce sector, a number of

fruit items were hit the hardest with grapes

having a 45 percent tariff imposed. Cherries

and pears also were hit with substantial


The dispute goes back many years and

can be traced to the signing of the North

American Free Trade Agreement in the

1990s. Among the provisions of that

agreement, both implied and otherwise,

was the understanding that trucks carrying

goods from one country to the next

would be able to deliver those products

to their ultimate destination. The United

States has never allowed Mexican trucks to

venture far into the United States, instead

requiring transloading of the product to

U.S. trucks. The NAFTA panel rejected

this position many years ago and ordered

the United States to begin a process that

would allow Mexican trucks access to U.S.

roads, both for delivery within the United

States and to travel through the U.S. to


Some U.S. groups – most notably the

Teamsters Union – has argued against

allowing Mexican trucks into the country

citing safety concerns.

At one point the U.S. Department of

Transportation did launch a pilot program

to be in compliance with the NAFTA

panel ruling but a year ago the funding for

that program was pulled by Congress. In

addition, the appropriations bill for DOT

funding contained wording that prohibited

the agency from using any of its funds for

that purpose.

That wording and no clear cut sign from

the Obama Administration that it was going

to address

this situation

in a proactive

manner led to

the retaliatory

tariffs being

imposed by

Mexico last

spring. While

some groups

have asked

Mexico to


remove those

tariffs, those

pleas have

landed on deaf

ears. “It’s a

tough argument,”


Ken Barbic,

Western Growers director of federal government

affairs, Washington, D.C. “We

are advocating that position and working

through the Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs (a

coalition of like-minded organizations)

but it is generally agreed that Mexico had

every right to impose those tariffs.”

Barbic said the key to removing the

tariffs is getting the Administration and/or

Congress to work on a solution to the root

problem: i.e., allowing Mexican trucks access

to the United States. Toward that end,

Congressmen Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.)

and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) have penned a

letter to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood and

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk asking

them to find a solution to this problem.

The scuttlebutt on Capitol Hill is that the

solution must come from the Administration,

which must signal its willingness to

buck its union supporters on this issue.

Barbic said there have also been some unconfirmed

rumors that Mexico may alter

or add to its list of products that are being

taxed upon entry.

While there was much concern last year

that grapes would suffer greatly because

of the 45 percent levy against them, Sun

World’s Chief Marketing Officer David

Marguleas who is serving as this year’s

chairman of the California Table Grape

Commission, recently said a very strong

grape market in 2009 significantly reduced

the impact of the Mexican tariff. Basically,

shippers did not need the Mexican market

for their fruit as much as they might have

in earlier years…or as much as they might

in 2010.

Representatives for both the U.S. cherry

and pear industries say they did suffer significant

losses because of the tariffs which

greatly reduced export volume to Mexico.


Despite Early Rains,

By Tim Linden

Smiles on the faces of farmers throughout California were

evident in January and February as a good deal of rain came down

upon the Golden State, which was a good start in making a dent

in the well-below normal levels in most of the reservoirs.

But it’s only a start.

Dan Nelson, general manager of the San Luis Delta-Mendota

Authority, said that while the above average rainfall and snow

pack was definitely a welcome sight, two more months of well

above average precipitation is needed to bring the reservoirs –

especially Shasta and Folsom – to even close to average levels.

Speaking on February 10, he said, “When the first water allocation

projection for ag contractors is made next week, we still

expect it to be at zero.”

He added that it was “too early” to predict what the final allocation

will be, but he did allow that the current weather patterns

are favorable, and directed the conversation about water projections

to Tom Boardman, water resource engineer for the authority.

Boardman also predicted that the first allocation, which he

thought would be released around Feb. 20, will be zero percent for

ag contractors, but he added “we are getting close to a projection

of greater than that. It could come in March.”

Boardman explained that when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

makes its ag contractor allocation projections it first has to take

care of the water that is delivered for other south of Delta users

with a higher priority such as the exchange contractors and the

urban users. “I believe the February allocation will project 100

percent for the exchange users and 50 percent for urban users.”

Boardman said that means those needs are met and the allocation

for ag contractors can start to increase. Also speaking on

Feb. 10, he said continued precipitation through the month of

February, as is forecast, should create a positive allocation for ag

contractors in March. And it could continue to rise as long as the

wet weather continues.

There is a scenario in which continued wet weather can actually

work against ag contractors, but Boardman does not believe that

scenario will come into play this year. Nelson explained that the

allocating of water follows a complicated formula that requires

increased water quality standards as the water flows into the rivers

feeding the Delta increases. As the water runoff from the hills and

the mountains increase, the turbidity, or cloudiness, of the water

also increases. As the turbidity increases, water quality standards

are also ratchited up. “It can happen that you kick up to the next

standard which results in a lower allocation at a certain point,”

Nelson said.


ituation Still Marginal at Best

Boardman agreed that can happen but said that for the most

part, the danger of that happening this year is remote. He said it

gets complicated but indicated that the turbidity issues are probably

behind us as the early heavy rains did create turbid water,

and the rains over the next few months probably won’t exacerbate

the problem. Further explaining the issue, he said the Delta smelt

is attracted to turbidity as the haziness of the water offers cover

which is what they seek. If the water quality situation as well as

the Delta smelt numbers in the southern part of the Delta justify

it, the biologists, he said, will turn off the pumps. But he said

he does not expect the turbidity issue to raise its cloudy head this


Far more disconcerting, however, are the court decisions that

continue to restrict flow.

In early February, the water authority groups were in court,

asking a judge to relax the standards with regard to the biological

opinion on salmon and smelt, and allow for increased pumping.

On Feb. 5, the judge did relax the salmon ruling but said the smelt

ruling was not in force so he made no ruling on that request. A

couple of days later, smelt were found near the pumping stations

and so that biological opinion did kick in, and one pump was shut

down. Consequently, on Feb. 10, the environmental groups were

back to court appealing the relaxation of the salmon ruling while

the water groups argued for the relaxation of the pumping restrictions

because of the smelt.

Unfortunately, Boardman said, the judge ruled against the water

contractors on both cases. “We have to reduce the amount we are

pumping starting tomorrow,” he said.

Both Boardman and Nelson said the one week increase in water

deliveries did help as every drop is important, though the long

term prognosis, with regard to the judicial interference in water

deliveries, is not good. Boardman said the biological opinion

allows for a range of pumping restrictions. Currently, the restriction

being utilized is not the most restrictive, but “starting tomorrow,

the finding of just a couple more fish (near the pumps), will

trigger a more restrictive flow.”

Boardman did not paint an optimistic picture for the water

industry to win this fight in the courts in the short term. He said

the best case scenario for ag users is to have a deluge of rain over

the next several months and for it to fall in the right place. “Of

course, we need rain in the north to fill Shasta and Folsom, but

the best scenario (for ag contractors) is to root for a lot of rain in

the San Joaquin River basin. We need to see the flow of the San

Joaquin increased.”

Boardman said a lot of rain in the San Joaquin Valley will produce

that result and should allow for increased pumping from the


It appears as the fate of farmers for the spring and summer of

2010 is in the hands of Mother Nature, with little relief expected

from human sources.

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 11


Seed Executive Wants to Get Retail Input for Varietal Research

By Tim Linden

A decade ago, Syngenta Seeds was the leading producer of

watermelon seed but it did not like the direction that industry

was going. “We knew that watermelon sales were flat or

declining. People were telling us that watermelons were just too

big—hard to carry, hard to fit in the fridge—and they went bad

before you could finish them.,” said Dan Burdett, president of

Syngenta’s NAFTA Seeds-Vegetables Division. “People wanted

their watermelons smaller and sweeter, with a consistent taste.”

Syngenta breeders took this information that was garnered

from the consumer end of the spectrum and went about building,

through breeding, a better watermelon. The result was a

personal-sized watermelon that it called PureHeart. In addition,

the seed company launched a wholly-owned subsidiary called

Dulcinea Farms to work with growers and exclusively market the


“The mini-watermelon has been a maxi-success. PureHearts

have been flying off the shelves. They command a premium price

because they meet consumer needs and are consistent in flavor

and texture,” Burdett said.

What Syngenta did for the personal-sized watermelons, it

wants to do with many of the other crops that it grows. Syngenta

calls itself the world’s number two vegetable seed company with

major breeding programs in a host of crops, including tomatoes,

peppers, sweet corn, watermelon, melon, brassicas, cucumbers,

lettuce and other salad vegetables.

Burdett recently spoke to the National Grocers Association and

then was interviewed by WG&S concerning Syngneta’s new go

to market strategy. “Our strategy is founded on three pillars: our

proprietary crop portfolio, our expanding global presence and our

redirected focus on retailer needs and consumer preferences in

our product design phase,” he told the grocers group.

The Syngenta executive told WG&S that traditionally, vegetable

and fruit seed developers have focused on meeting grower needs

for yield, productivity and quality, and making produce plants

easier to grow and have a longer shelf life. Breeding has not concentrated

on meeting the needs of the consumers, most logically

because the seed breeders didn’t know those needs.

By speaking to the National Grocers Association, Burdett was

hoping to take the “first step” in establishing a collaboration with

retailers. “We want to combine our plant science with their con-

12 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

sumer science to produce better crops that fit the needs of their

customers,” he said. “This first meeting was very introductory. I

don’t think many of them had thought about this. Hopefully it

will lead to the next step.”

He indicated that the “next step” might be the sharing of

consumer information with the seed company that retailers have

gathered through scan data and research. Burdett wants his

breeders to better understand the needs of the end users when

they are creating seeds for farmers to grow. He believes that a

collaboration can result in the production of fruits and vegetables

that contain traits that are best for consumers, not necessarily just

traits that are best for the growers and suppliers of that product.

He also indicated that with the right kind of dialog new products

can be brought to market in a fairly quick time frame.

“The old rule of thumb that it takes seven years to create a new

variety is no longer true. It can be done much faster than that using

the tools that breeders now have at their disposal,” he said.

Burdett also argued that there may be many varieties already on

the shelf that might fit a consumer need if given the chance. He

said he wants Syngenta’s seed marketers to relook at old products

as they garner consumer information to see if a discarded line

may have new utility given a new set of desirable characteristics.

In his vision, Burdett said such a collaboration between seed

producers and retailers will need buy in at the retail chief executive

officer level as well as from the produce executives for each

chain. As he sees it developing, retailers will be collaborators with

the new seed companies in both the development of the seed and

the marketing of the resulting fruit or vegetable.

Burdett indicated that for the continued long term growth of

fruit and vegetable consumption, consumer wants and desires

have to become part of the equation. “In the tough competitive

environment you face,” he told the retailers, “you know it’s important

to make the shopping experience exciting and beneficial

for your customers. Today, customers are looking for value and

convenience—but they also want quality in terms of consistent

flavor and texture. By joining your consumer knowledge with our

plant knowledge, we can provide more of the ‘designer’ fruits and

vegetables that will make your shelves hum and customers keep

coming back.”

Science &


WG Senior Vice President, Science, Technology and Strategic Planning


You Can’t Use It, If You Don’t Have It

With data, one has the ability to reduce costs, manage risk,

ensure ROI for investment, improve processes and a host

of other opportunities that can help drive efficiency into

an operation and return more to the bottom line.

I recently participated in every one of the National Leafy Greens

Marketing Agreement Hearings – seven in all. That discussion, held

nationwide, along with some of the very real pressures faced by

growers here in California and Arizona, prompted me to think long

and hard about the need for “data” and the problems and opportunities

associated with collecting that data.

There are many varying requests for operational information

from many different entities all designed to try to better understand

the business of producing fresh fruits and vegetables in California,

Arizona and beyond. Some of these requests come from the

regulatory community who seek data to quantify impacts on the

environment (such as air or water quality) or to measure food safety

risks associated with different agricultural inputs. Additionally,

the marketplace (consumers, retailers, food service buyers and

environmental or consumer organizations) is demanding data to

demonstrate that individual operators and industry segments are

practicing stewardship and/or advancing public benefit. Industry

advocates, such as Western Growers, also seek quantitative data to

help influence policy decision through accurate representations of

the members and thorough cost/benefit analyses which cannot be

completed without a strong data set.

There are many pressures on you and your business to provide,

share, report or otherwise make known operational data to inform

these discussions at the local, state, national and even international


These demands for information raise many fundamental questions:

Is it a good idea to provide this data? Who will use it and for

what purpose? Can or will it be used against me somehow? Will

my operation be compelled to meet higher performance standards

or be seen as a less desirable supplier if a competitor’s data is


In the hearings on the National Leafy Greens Marketing

Agreement, I heard strong and compelling testimony from many

WG members (for which I am grateful) but there was one tangent

to the testimony that stuck with me and is on point for this

article. A longtime WG member testifying in support of the NLGMA

described his experience with food safety in his operation as follows

(paraphrased slightly): “… one partner… said we needed to start

a HACCP program. And I said, What is that?” HACCP is a Hazard

Analysis Critical Control Program designed to identify risks and critical

control points and design system controls to mitigate those risks.

“And I said, -- we don't need no stinkin' HACCP program. Look,

we haven't had any problems. We don't have any problems. Why

would I want to implement HACCP? Then my partners said it was

going to cost $60,000 to $90,000 to implement” and I'm like, ‘Are

you kidding me?’ I kicked and screamed and fought and they said,

‘Look, you know, our customers are demanding this and we need

to do this.’ My partners won out and so we implemented a HACCP

program at our operation. After about six months, I started reviewing

some of the data from the HACCP program and began asking

questions like ‘How come our chlorine levels spiked to this and how

come this is over here?’ After gathering all the data and reviewing

the data, I started to realize how important that HACCP program

was and you know, it allowed us to manage things better.”

This testimony drove home for me the solid business premise:

that which is measured can be managed. That individual went

on to explain that he was a strong proponent for data-gathering,

management and analysis. Which is not to suggest this is an easy

or inexpensive task, but only to suggest that with quantitative data

collected and at your fingertips, a thorough analysis is possible

allowing individuals to make informed and prudent management


With data, one has the ability to reduce costs, manage risk,

ensure ROI, improve your processes and engage in a host of other

opportunities that can help drive efficiency into an operation and

return more to the bottom line. My experience with the produce

industry for the past 20 years leads me to believe that most of our

member operations value data and use it to the benefit of their


What about sharing data? As previously noted, there is no

shortage of entities that would like to understand farming, harvesting,

packing, processing and other production operations better

than they do now, and having access to data would help them

immensely in that quest. While the knee jerk reaction is to refuse

access to this information under the premise that operational data

is proprietary and for internal uses only, there may be some situations

where sharing data can benefit your operation. The “return on

data sharing” (RODS) must be weighed against the costs (including

risk) of sharing which likely varies from request to request.

If a buyer is asking you to provide some data as a condition of

selling to them, you likely have few options but to comply with that

request. If you have proprietary information it may be possible to

protect it as these transactions are typically governed by contracts.

If a regulatory agency is requesting data, it likely depends on

whether it is being asked of you in relation to an enforcement

action or established monitoring program (in which case you may

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 13

e compelled to provide information) or if they are soliciting information

to better understand the regulated community (which may be voluntary

in nature). These situations are fairly clear and the expectations and

consequences are typically communicated right out front … either you

provide this data or we will find another vendor! Either you provide this

data or you will be subject to fines, citations, etc.

What is more difficult to measure and evaluate is the RODS when

one is asked to share it with an academic, environmental or industry

organization, or to collaborate in a common pooling of data for one or

more purposes. In these situations, the benefits are sometimes harder to

discern and the level of confidence one has that proprietary or operationally

specific data won’t be leaked to be used against a company or

to erode one’s competitive position.

Again every situation needs to be evaluated on its own merits, but

14 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

Western Growers does see advantages for our members to participate in

several data collection and sharing initiatives, and in members sharing

more data with Western Growers itself.

In the past year, Western Growers has encouraged members to voluntarily

share data with WG staff in an effort to better understand and

describe industry issues and member demographics in a variety of policy

setting forums. We have sought economic data and acreage information,

as well as information on food safety, conservation, crop protection

and transportation practices. These requests have been met with mixed

results, but by and large we have been unable to collect enough data to

paint a comprehensive picture of our membership, much less dive into

the granular descriptions necessary in many policy debates.

For example, Western Growers cannot state with certainty how many

acres our members grow, or how many of those acres are conventional

versus organic. These data are critical to a trade association.

We cannot accurately describe the size, scope and

diversity, estimate the economic impact or environmental

contributions made by WG members without this data.

In addition, a key part of policy analysis is the cost versus

benefit analysis. In the California and Arizona policy

arenas, these analyses are rarely done by the agency or

legislative office that is advancing a new policy, regulation

or law. If they are done, they are rarely accurate.

For Western Growers to drive home disparate costs

versus benefits, it is critical to fully understand these costs

and have defensible and credible member data on which

to rely. The same is true when engaging in discussion and

debate on environmental impacts, relative risk and other

scientific or technical (as opposed to economic) issues.

To change water sampling programs we must have data

to support the quality of water used by agriculture; to

push back on nitrogen or pesticide regulation we must

have information about the use of these inputs. Data is

essential to engage in effective advocacy. With data, WG

can better manage the issues facing our members.

The problem is how do we generate the confidence

and trust necessary to bring this data in? How do we

ensure that operational data is protected and that it

cannot be disseminated and used against an individual


Western Growers has a sacred trust with our membership

that includes protecting sensitive information from

being used in any way to undermine their competitive

position within the industry or to jeopardize their business

in any way. We will and can employ a variety of tools to

ensure that we never violate this sacred trust including

the use of non-disclosure contracts, employing technology

that prevent access to individual data points, bringing

data in as ranges instead of discrete points and other

protections as necessary.

In the coming months, Science and Tech will be

working with the Food Safety, Science and Technology

Committee to explore the feasibility of collecting important

industry data. In the meantime, WG will continue to

encourage participation in surveys, and other data collection

initiatives that may prove of value to the industry.

Because data allows us to measure and describe, and that

ability allows us all to better manage the myriad issues

that face the industry today and in the future.


Western Growers University Heads to Santa Maria

By Paul Simonds

Western Growers offers a host of services to its members — everything

from advocacy in Phoenix, Sacramento and Washington,

D.C., to health benefits for farm workers. It is in this same

spirit that Western Growers University is primed to offer its

first Human Resource/Employment Law Workshop of 2010 in

Santa Maria, Calif., March 23 and 24.

“This will help WG members get within compliance in different

areas like the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA),” said WG Manager

of Learning and Development, Anthony Magno.

Western Growers University is partnering with the local growershipper

organization in that region to offer two days of instruction

for its Santa Maria members and anyone else interested in

attending. Day one will feature presentations from Magno (family

leave laws), WG General Counsel Jason Resnick (wage and hour

law), WG Human Resources Generalist Lupe Cuevas (hiring and

interviewing) and Grower-Shipper Association of Santa Barbara

and San Luis Obispo Counties, President Richard Quandt (I-9


“I-9 is the hottest of the topics,” Magno said. “Changes to the

FMLA should be pretty popular as well. There have been two

amendments made to FMLA. They both involve the military.”

Magno said service members, including those serving in the

National Guard or as reservists and anyone related to a service

member should be aware of the changes to the qualifying exigency

and service member care areas of FMLA. These changes

took affect in December so it’s vital that anyone who deals with

personnel issues, regardless of the size of the company, are aware

of these and other changes.

“The Wage and Hour session will cover compliance with state and

federal overtime laws, including white collar exemptions, wage

and hour lawsuits (including the status of enforcement of meal

periods), and avoiding common wage and hour mistakes,” added


Magno said the training modules would be of great value to

any business but may be even more valuable to those in the Santa

Maria area. “The unique thing about Santa Maria is that our

members there are generally smaller to medium-size companies,”

Magno said, explaining that in some cases an office manager is

charged with carrying out all the human resource needs of a company.

“We need to get this information out to them.”

Day two of the workshop will be focused on sexual harassment

prevention. California legislation AB 1825 mandates that employers

with 50 or more employees provide two hours of training to

all supervisory employees every two years. Magno said the sexual

harassment prevention module of this workshop ensures compliance

with this regulation.

The two-day workshop will be held at the Radisson Hotel at 3455

Skyway Drive in Santa Maria. The first day of the workshop,

which is set at $69 for members and $99 for non-members, is

slated from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Day two, which is set at $50 for

members and $65 for non-members, will be held from 9 a.m. to

11 a.m. with both English and Spanish sessions running concurrently.

For anyone who attends both days, a 25 percent discount

to the overall cost will be applied.

Registration is available online at www.wga.com/wgu or by

phone at (805) 934-1500. Western Growers has also secured a

group rate at the hotel of $109. Attendees may call (805) 928-

8000 for hotel room reservations.

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 15

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 17


Lynne Pancrazi, Arizona House

By Tim Linden

18 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

Representing District 24, Yuma and LaPaz Counties

(Editor’s Note: The questions and answered have been paraphrased)



I was born and raised in Yuma. I am a native Yuman. My

grandmother and grandfather on my father’s side came to Yuma

from Texas and my father was born and raised right next store in

Gadsden. My parents met at the University of Arizona and came

back to Yuma and both were teachers throughout their careers.

From the time I was in eighth grade, I knew that I wanted to

be a teacher and that’s what I did as well. I actually wanted to be

a P.E. teacher. After college (Rep. Pancrazi received a master’s

in elementary education from Northern Arizona University and

a bachelor’s in physical education from Point Loma Nazarene

College in San Diego.), I too came back to Yuma and worked as a

teacher for many, many years. I also ended up marrying a teacher,

whose family was in the insurance and real estate business. So

I decided to become a real estate agent as well and sold mostly

residential property for more than 20 years for Pancrazi Realty to

keep busy during the summers and while my husband was gone.

You see my husband was a teacher and a coach and he was gone a

lot so I decided I wanted to do something with my spare time.





I never imagined running for political office but when I was

a teacher I was active in the teacher groups and that got me

Lynne Pancrazi with constituents Dave and Patty Griener and WG member Pam Mellon (far right) of Mellon Farms.


f Representatives

involved with a lot of different issues. My mother always told

me to watch out because I might get fired. I said if I did, I would

just learn how to type. I didn’t get fired but I did retire. Eventually

I came back out of retirement and started working half time

as a P.E. teacher and half time in reading recovery working with

kids who had fallen behind. It was about this time, in 2007, that

a local committee made up of Democratic leaders approached me

and asked me if I wanted to run for the State Legislature. I said I

had to think about it and I had to check with my family. Most of

my family are small business owners, and I wanted to make sure

that they were okay with my running for office, as I knew that if I

got into politics, they would be affected. They gave me the okay,

but I still wasn’t sure so I went to a grassroots weekend retreat for

candidates to make my decision. I decided to get into the race

and I won the seat in the Arizona House of Representatives for the

24 th District.

Arizona education was the issue that got me involved and has

been my pet issue. Arizona is ranked 48 th (out of the 50 states)

in many categories including spending per student…everything

but our test scores, which put us somewhere in the middle of the


I have been able to get some things done for Arizona education

but it has been very difficult with our budget problems. Making

laws is like making sausages…but it takes longer.







I just don’t think there is any way that we can close the budget

gap without generating revenues. We have swept every possible

fund, even funds we have no business sweeping (into the state

coffers) and we still aren’t even close. There is an “orphan” budget

bill out there – it’s called an orphan because no one wants to put

their name on it – but it does address the budget deficit and will

start to get us out of this problem. If the provisions in that bill

are adopted, we would start to cut the deficit in 2011 and be back

to even by 2015. I think it is going to take something like that

to solve this problem. We may need to lower our tax rate but

broaden our base.

As for as 2010, I do not know what can be done to solve our

budget deficit. I think some people in the Legislature would just

as soon not pass anything and have government go away. But the

cuts we have to make now are really going to hurt the hard-working

citizens of this state. We are in dire straits. There are some of

us working together and I am working both sides of the aisle but

as it stands right now, I just don’t see a solution that the governor

is going to sign.













I am in support of that legislation and the hope is that if we give

these funds “Trust” status that will make the Legislature think

twice before sweeping them (into the General Fund). But I don’t

know if it will work. We are sweeping every fund we see. I am

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 19

Lynn with Monsignor Richard O’Keefe, who is active in the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association and attends every annual meeting.

not voting for those sweeps but they are getting done. I argue that

it is ridiculous. We have swept funds that have no business being

swept. There is just no stopping it. Nothing seems to be sacred.

I am also very worried about what we are doing to our state

agencies. The Department of Agriculture has been cut from

over 100 people to just 26 employees. The Department of Water

Resources has had half of its staff cut. Anything you do with the

Department of Real Estate, you have to do online because they do

not have any personnel to answer the phones. We are decimating

our state agencies.











I did author the “Sunshine Bill” that brought some transparency

to the dealings of the railroads. There is a proposal on the table

to make a deep water port (in the Gulf of California) at Puerto

Penasco. The Union Pacific was trying to come in here and buy

up some land and keep it quiet. This is a small town and you can’t

do things like that here. They wanted to bring the rail line from

the port up through the middle of our lettuce acreage, separating

20 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

farmers from their fields. The economic condition of the country

has put the port project on hold but they are still talking about

it and we are a logical place for Union Pacific to build a hub, but

they are going to have to negotiate out in the open.





Agriculture has a lot of issues. Water is always a big issue as

people from the metropolitan areas try to tell farmers how they

should use their water. Encroachment on farm land is also an

important issue. But I think the most important issue is over-regulation.

People up here (in the state Legislature) like to regulate

everything. I think the biggest problem facing farmers and all of

business is unnecessary regulations.








I am a big eater of fruits and vegetables. I think I eat everything

but lima beans. I grew up eating every kind of fruit and vegetable.

Oranges are probably my favorite. I also love spinach and broccoli.

AZ Government

AFFAIRS By AnnaMarie Knorr, WG Arizona Government Affairs Manager

Football Season is Over,

But We’re Still Punting in AZ

If the Arizona Legislature was an NFL team, we’d be ranked

with the likes of Detroit and Tampa Bay. With no offense,

no teamwork, and a huge deficit they just keep punting.

Meanwhile, the red ink grows at an alarming rate. Arizona

is projected to have a budget shortfall of more than $4

billion through fiscal year 2011. With annual revenues

around $9 billion, that’s a huge disparity that can’t be

made up by digging in the couches for spare change or, in

the case of the Legislature, sweeping funds from industry


Yet we punt. Case in point, the temporary one cent sales tax

increase proposed by the Governor in January of last year. Out of the

gate, the Legislature lambasted the Governor’s plan, laying out the

disparaging effects of a tax increase during a recession. They called

for cuts to address the problem. But six special sessions later, significant

cuts and gimmicks still leave the state operating almost $2

billion in the red with four months left in the fiscal year. So, without

any viable options to fix the current mess, they throw a Hail Mary

pass late in the fourth quarter and refer the dreaded temporary one

cent sales tax to the ballot in a special May 18 th election. It’s a long

shot, and if the voters drop the ball, we’re headed for the overtime

fight of our lives.


Since fund sweeps haven’t cut it, the Governor’s budget now proposes

that the Departments of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Water

Resources (DWR), State Land and Game & Fish sustain themselves

entirely on fees. In response to the Governor’s budget, DWR has

proposed a myriad of plans to maintain, and in some cases, exceed

current general funding levels. The most egregious is an assessment

bill that would charge $5 per irrigated acre across the state, as well

as 3 cents per 1,000 gallons of water on municipal and industrial

users. The irrigated acre tax alone would generate $4 million annually.

Other DWR funding bills include a fee plan that would implement

various new fees and expand existing fees substantially, as well

as a plan for a bottled water tax that would help fund DWR, along

with DEQ and the municipalities. Not only are we lacking a plan, we

have a lot of bad ideas being thrown around on top of it.

For DEQ, some say get rid of it, but the consequences of that are

dire. If the state abandoned DEQ, we would be giving authority back

to EPA on water quality issues as well as pesticide registration and

air quality management. Needless to say, WG staff is working diligently

with these agencies, the Governor’s office, and the Legislature

to work on a viable plan that includes a mechanism whereby users

of services are involved in paying for the service.

Fortunately, most of the politicos seem to see the public value

of the Department of Agriculture (ADA) and have allocated general

funds to support the agency for the next year. Working with the

industry and key staff in the department, we have been able to

retain key programs related to market access and export certification.

However, ADA has been cut to the bare bones and will most

definitely need industry assistance going forward.

With the myriad of tax and fee proposals making their way

through the process, the ag community has started to work towards

the adoption of principles that can be used to assess all bills. The

Fairness in Fees Plan lays out a set of guidelines that need to be

included in any fee or tax proposal. The plan includes accountability

measures, and language to address transparency, certainty, and

flexibility. If the Legislature adopts this plan, it will help ensure that

we can continue to fund the necessary government functions without

overburdening the very businesses that keep the economy going.


Although many of the government funds paid into by WG members

for services have been depleted substantially, Senator Steve

Pierce has authored a bill supported by the ag industry to place the

funds within ADA ‘in trust’ similar to that of California. While any

law passed by the Legislature can be repealed by a simple vote, passage

of this measure would change the direction of the Legislature

in regards to fund sweeps and would hopefully signal a change in

current policy.

In addition to new taxes and fees, there’s a proposal in the House

of Representatives to repeal tax credits available to farmers for

water conservation and pollution control. Based on a recommendation

from the Joint Legislative Tax Credit Review Committee, the

Legislature was set to repeal these credits that incentivize farmers to

install water saving irrigation measures. WG staff worked with the

sponsor of the bill and members of the Ways & Means Committee

on the importance of this credit in continuing to conserve water for

the future of Arizona and an amendment was added to remove this

provision from the bill. At this point, the credit should stay intact for

another five years until the next review by the Legislative panel.

It’s only March, but there has been a lot of talk about what may

happen in the November elections. Both at the federal level and on

a statewide basis, the voters seem to be fed up. With the Governor

up for reelection and a myriad of contested primaries heating up in

Arizona, what happens in the next couple of months could have a

major effect on next year’s starting lineup.

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 21


Continues Garden Mission with

Buoyed by two specialty crop grants, the Western Growers

Foundation’s work of spreading the good word about agriculture

through school garden programs will continue at a frenetic pace

this year.

Foundation Administrator Briana Lewis said WGF received a

$12,500 grant through the Arizona Specialty Crop Block Grant

program to establish 10 new gardens in Arizona schools in 2010.

In addition, WGF was awarded more than $135,000 from the

California Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to build 100 new

school gardens over the next three years in pre-schools that participate

in the state’s Head Start Program. Combine that with the

regularly scheduled school garden funding that was planned for

this year, and 2010 will surely yield a bumper crop of gardens.

Lewis said WGF’s School Garden program has proven to be a

fantastic path on which to introduce children to the wonders of

agriculture. “We have better than an 80 percent success rate for

these gardens to stay viable for multiple years,” she said.

In other words, the Western Growers Foundation gives money,

tools, seeds and other supplies to help a school establish a garden,

and follow-up research has shown that the overwhelming majority

stay operational for many years. Lewis said the key is selecting

schools that have programs in place to foster the use and

continuation of the garden even after the initial funds run out.

She said any school interested in a garden through the regular

WGF School Garden program must fill out an application and the

Foundation Board analyzes those applications and scores them on

various criteria. For example, Lewis said it is very important that

a school have a “School Garden Committee” that is in charge of

the garden and keeping it going. “If we have 10 grants to give, we

Students hold up the fruits of their labor at Miano Elementary

School in Los Banos, CA.

22 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

will score the applicants based on our criteria and award the funds

to the top 10 performers.”

With the grant money, other criteria are also considered for

picking school participants. For example, WGF is working with

the California Head Start Program officials to identify the 100

pre-schools that will become part of the program. “In fact, the

first 50 have already received their irrigation kits as well as $600 in

cash,” she said.

Lewis said the School Garden Programs administered by WGF,

including these Specialty Crop Block grant efforts, have the added

advantage of receiving supplies from generous industry collaborators.

“Monsanto and John Deere Water have been involved with

us since the beginning. Each company has donated many of the

supplies and kits for these gardens. In fact, I am expecting to

receive 60 more irrigation kits from John Deere Water this month.

That participation is what makes this program work.”

In 1995, Western Growers members created Western Growers

Charitable Foundation to give back to the residents of California

Sergio de Alba, 4th grade teacher and garden coordinator, is surrounded

by his garden and students.


New Funds

and Arizona who have helped to make them so successful over

the past 80 years. WGCF was developed to address timely issues

facing these valued customers.

In 2003, the foundation launched the School Garden Program

country. Many research projects have chronicled the nutrition-

adolescents are suffering from obesity and Type-2 diabetes. It

has been determined that school gardens are an excellent way

for children to become more closely linked with their food supply

and excited about eating more fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Knowledge is power and it is expected that as more and more

students become aware of good nutritional habits, they will adopt


In 2007, Western Growers Charitable Foundation was renamed

Western Growers Foundation. The renaming accompanied a reor-

now focuses on three pillars:

Specialty Crop Science and Research

Food Safety

Nutrition Education

The School Garden Program falls under the Nutrition

Education pillar.

Another new wrinkle this year is that the California School

Garden Network, which has been at the forefront of providing

gardens for California schools and helped WG launch its

program, has now found a home within the Western Growers

Foundation. The Network will maintain its own website and

activities but it is being operated as a unit of WGF for tax and

sustainability reasons.

“The California School Garden Network has been a great resource

as a one-stop shop for any school looking for information

and resources to develop their own garden. And it will continue

to be so,” Lewis said.

The Vaca Family gets their hands dirty at a garden work day.

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 23


& THE LAW By Jason Resnick, WG General Counsel

Employment Law:

California Policy Relaxed

On Partial Day Deductions

On November 23, 2009, the Chief Counsel of the California

Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (“DLSE”) issued

an opinion letter on behalf of Labor Commissioner Angela

Bradstreet in which the DLSE modified its position on the issue

of making deductions from vacation and sick leave balances

accrued by exempt employees for the purpose of covering

partial-day absences. The opinion letter brings California law

more in line with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act regarding

the “salary basis test” and deductions from exempt employee

paid time-off accounts for partial-day absences.


In order to avoid the payment of overtime premiums, an

employee must be exempt from the overtime requirements of

both state and federal law. To properly classify an employee

as exempt, an employer must satisfy the salary-basis test by

paying a salary, “without deduction,” regardless of how many

or how few hours the employee works during the pay period.

Historically, courts and agencies have allowed employers to

deduct from an employee’s vacation or sick leave balance in

full-day increments without violating the test. However, until

2006, the DLSE took the position that a vacation deduction for a

partial-day absence was inconsistent with an employee’s exempt

status even though the employee received the same amount of

pay as if he or she had not been on vacation.

Then, in 2005, a California court of appeal ruled that

employers may make vacation deductions for partial-day

absences for absences of four hours or more without jeopardizing

their employee’s exempt status (Conley v. Pacific Gas &

Electric Company). In 2006, the DLSE conformed its policies

to be consistent with Conley, and employers have since been

advised that policies that called for partial-day deductions from

an employee’s vacation for absences of four hours or more are



Now, the California Labor Commissioner, through its

November 2009 opinion letter, has opined that employers may

deduct from an employee’s vacation or sick leave balance in less

than half-day increments so long as the employee receives full

24 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

pay for the day in any combination of vacation/sick pay and/or

salary. Thus, for example, for a two hour absence, an employer

may deduct two hours of vacation pay and pay six hours of salary.

However, if the employee does not have sufficient vacation

or sick leave accrual to cover a partial-day absence, the employer

must ensure that the employee receives full salary for that day

in order to satisfy the salary basis test. Thus, while an employer

cannot reduce an employee’s pay for working a partial day, the

employer can implement policies permitting the employer to

reduce in one-hour increments vacation or sick leave hours an

employee had accrued to correspond with the amount of hours

the employee took off during the partial day, without endangering

the employee’s exempt status.

The opinion letter also states that where an employee is

absent for personal reasons for a full day but lacks sufficient

accrued vacation to cover the entire day (e.g., the employee has

only three hours of accrued vacation), the employer may require

the employee to exhaust the three accrued hours and not pay

the employee any salary for the remainder of the day. However,

where an employee is absent a full day due to sickness but lacks

sufficient accrued sick leave to cover the entire day (e.g., the

employee has only five hours of accrued sick time), the employer

may reduce the employee’s sick leave balance to zero but must

not reduce the employee’s salary for the remaining three hours,

i.e., the employer must pay the employee’s full salary for the day.


California law treats accrued vacation as deferred wages; as

such, employers cannot have a use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy

and must pay out any accrued, unused vacation at the termination

of an employment relationship. If an employer is permitted

to reduce an employee’s vacation hours for partial-day absences,

the amount of accrued vacation an employer must pay the

employee at termination may potentially be reduced.

While DLSE opinion letters are not binding precedent for

California courts, and courts do not give deference to DLSE opinion

letters, the letters do have persuasive value in a court of law.

Since the policy change is in line with federal law, it is likely that

California courts will adopt the DLSE’s more expansive interpretation

of partial day deductions from accrued benefits.






Agricultural vehicles can delay the

diesel engine compliance requirements

of the California Air Resources

Board (CARB) regulations aimed at

certain trucks and busses. To take

advantage of these provisions, businesses

must report information about

their entire agricultural fleet by March

31, 2010.

By January 1, 2023, all vehicles must

have a 2010 model-year engine or equivalent.

Qualifying vehicles will have operated

under certain mileage thresholds or have

met specialty vehicle definitions in the

regulation. The vehicles that qualify for the

delays must be labeled by May 1, 2010.

Fleets reporting under this provision

must report vehicle information to establish

a baseline fleet as it existed on January 1,

2009. The reporting form and instructions

for sending this information to CARB can be

found on its web site (www.arb.ca.gov).

For more information, please contact

WG’s Ken Gilliland (kgilliland@wga.com) at

(949) 885-2267.


Under a new Department of Labor rule,

effective March 15, employers seeking

H-2A visas for agricultural workers will

be required to provide documented

proof that they looked for qualified

U.S. people to fill jobs, instead of simply

attesting to the effort. The Labor

Department also is creating a national

electronic job registry to help growers

find workers from the United States.

As a companion to this rule, DOL is also

expected to change the formula to determine

the wages that H-2A workers earn. DOL officials

said a change is needed because wages

for legal immigrant workers in the program fell

following a change to the formula by the Bush

Administration. The Labor Department said the

average certified wage for H-2A workers has

Feinstein Proposes

Emergency Water


California Senator Dianne Feinstein has

proposed legislation that will loosen

Endangered Species Act restrictions on

pumping water from the Sacramento-

San Joaquin River Delta to increase irrigation

deliveries to San Joaquin Valley

growers for the next two years.

The details of her proposal had not been

released in mid-February when this publication

was going to press, but Feinstein indicated that

the amendment would be attached to a jobs

bill. She said she was open to alternative ways

to boost water supplies to California farmers,

but reducing pumping restrictions appeared to

be the most expedient solution.

In a press release sent out on Feb. 11,

California Representative Jim Costa supported

the amendment. “With current snow levels at

130 percent above average, it is unacceptable

and unfair that certain regions of California

will receive a full allocation of their water

supply and the Westside of the San Joaquin

Valley, which I have the honor of representing,

would be limited to a devastating 10 percent

allocation of water. This region is home to

some of the most productive agricultural lands

in the country, and yet for 18 months, the area

has suffered from farmers losing their land and

unemployment numbers that are higher now

fallen to $8.02 an hour from $9.04 for fiscal

year 2009 applications processed before the

Bush rule change.

The Labor Department actions reverse

changes in farm labor regulation enacted by

the Bush Administration in late 2008.

Western Growers President and CEO

Tom Nassif said: “Here we go again. The

Department of Labor is reversing the Bush

Administration changes to the H-2A guest

worker program, for the second time, which is

likely to be met with a court challenge. This

cycle never seems to end. Meanwhile our

nation’s farmers are stuck with regulations that

are cumbersome and not workable because

they are too costly and ignore the realities of

farming. This mess underscores the need for

a legislative solution. We have provided that

than during the peak of the Great Depression.

Unfortunately, this Administration has demonstrated

little flexibility to provide short-term

water to those most impacted.”

Western Growers President and CEO Tom

Nassif and senior staff have been in several

discussions on this issue and will continue to

monitor the situation and work closely with

Senator Feinstein and other members of

California’s Congressional delegation to see

this amendment passed.

For more information, contact WG’s Dave

Puglia (dpuglia@wga.com) at (916) 446-1435.

solution to this administration — a solution

that enjoys bi-partisan support, a solution that

enjoys support from both farm owners and

farm labor groups. This administration must

take the lead and encourage Congress to pass


Nassif continued: “Even with an economy

that is suffering through 10 percent unemployment,

domestic workers are not applying

for these jobs. We know our produce is

going to be harvested by foreign workers, the

question is, will it be here in the U.S. or will

it be abroad? We are already dependent on

foreign energy, do we really want to become

dependent on foreign food? Our government

officials have got to quit tinkering around with

regulations and really address the problem; it’s

time to pass AgJOBS.”

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 25




Letters Needed

On Methyl Iodine


Western Growers is encouraging all

California members to contact their

state Senators and Assembly Members

and urge them to help facilitate the

registration of methyl iodide.

The California Department of Pesticide

Regulation (DPR) is expected to make a decision

on the registration of the soil fumigant,

which is used to protect commodity crops from

weeds, pests and disease. It was developed as

an alternative to methyl bromide, a chemical

that is being phased out worldwide.

If methyl iodide is not approved, there will

be no replacement for methyl bromide for

the next fumigation process. One possible

outcome is that the material will be registered

but with such severe restrictions that many

growers will be effectively blocked from using

it. Such a decision could establish a precedent

that leads to future curtailment of necessary

and proper usage of fumigants, amendments

or pesticides.

For more information, contact WG’s Kelly

McKechnie (kmckechnie@wga.com) at (916)


26 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010



California’s Air Resource Board

(CARB) has announced dates,

times, and locations for a series

of public training seminars to

discuss the March 31, 2010

reporting requirements for the

Truck and Bus regulation. The

reporting deadline for fleets

who wish to take advantage of

agricultural vehicle provision is

March 31, 2010.

The seminars will be offered in

the day, in the evening, and also by

webcast. The training seminars will

provide updates and an overview

on the regulation, focused on the

agricultural and two-engine sweeper

requirements; how to use the fleet calculator;

and how to use the CARB on-line

reporting system.

Go to the CARB website (www.arb.

ca.gov) for specific dates, times, locations

and registration information.

The regulation requires affected trucks

and buses to meet performance requirements

between 2011 and 2023. By

January 1, 2023 all vehicles must have a

2010 model year engine or equivalent.

For more information, contact WG’s

Kelly McKechnie (kmckechnie@wga.com)

at (916) 446-1435.

WG Manager of Arizona Government Affairs AnnaMarie Knorr was with Governor

Jan Brewer recently when the Arizona chief executive announced the launching of

the Arizona Centennial Museum, which will focus on Arizona's agricultural, mining

and tourism history, also known as the 5 c's. It is being paid for with private donations

and Knorr is serving on the organizational committee.




WG’s Santa Maria

Office to Move

The Western Growers Santa Maria

office is relocating effective March

8, 2010. The new location is centrally

located with ample parking for

visitors and it offers more space for

customer meetings and walk-ins.

The new location is:

2605 South Miller, Suite 105

Santa Maria, CA 93455

Ph 805.934.1500

Fax 805.934 .2211

We invite you to visit us in our new office

location. Stay tuned for an announcement

of our open house where you will have a

chance to meet your local team in our new




The Department of Labor (DOL) has

published new model COBRA forms

reflecting the extension of the 65

percent subsidy of COBRA premiums.

The Department of Defense

Appropriations Act (DOD Act) for

Fiscal Year Y 2010 extended the

WG Attempts to Curtail

Water User Fees in AZ

Western Growers is working

diligently in Phoenix to amend

a bill that would completely

fund the Department of

Water Resources through user


Under the proposed plan, an

annual $5 per irrigated acre assessment

on all irrigated lands would

be implemented. Purportedly, this

would generate about $4 million

annually. The plan also proposes

a $0.03 per 1000 gallon assessment

on municipal water users

and a similar gallon usage fee for

industrial uses. These assessments are estimated

to bring in an additional $16 million per

year. The bill was set to be heard in February

in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

However, with significant concerns brought

forward by Western Growers and others, the

bill was held back to ensure adequate time to

review the proposal and propose alternative


This bill will likely be raised again during

this session and Western Growers will continue

to push back against this legislation, arguing

maximum subsidy period from nine

to 15 months and made the subsidy

available to individuals entitled to

COBRA due to involuntary termination

of employment through

February 28, 2010.

The DOL’s Employee Benefits Security Administration website describes the deadlines for

providing the Updated General Notice, Premium Assistance Extension Notice, and updated

Alternative Notice to persons who became eligible for continuation coverage under a state


For more information, contact WG’s Jon Alexander (jalexander@wga.co

j g m) at (949) 885-

2330 or refer to the Feb. 2010 “Agriculture & the Law” column in this publication, which

can be found on the WG website (www.wga.com).

that a funding mechanism for DWR needs

to address the broad spectrum of services

provided by the department, and fees and

assessments should be shared proportionally

by all water users. In addition, there is a

substantial public benefit provided through

the department in protecting the state’s water

resources and these functions should be provided

through the general fund.

For more information, contact WG’s

AnnaMarie Knorr (aknorr@wga.com) at (602)


Foundation Sponsors

Film Viewing

Western Growers Foundation, along

with the Public Health Institute and the

Latino Coalition for a Healthy California,

sponsored a public viewing of the new

documentary “Nourishing the Kids of

Katrina” on February 8th at the Crest

Theatre in downtown Sacramento.

This compelling 31 minute documentary

film follows the story of how renowned chef

Alice Waters’ Berkeley “Edible Schoolyard”

program is replicated and contributes to the

rebirth of the New Orleans Green Charter

School after its devastation from Hurricane

Katrina floodwaters.

Western Grower Foundation Administrator

Briana Lewis spoke before the viewing and

shared the foundation’s efforts to see a school

garden erected in every Arizona and California


For more information, contact WGF’s Briana

Lewis (blewis@wga.com) at (949) 885-2289.

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 27


By Matt Lewis

Western Growers Financial Services

With the 2010 tax season at hand, Western Growers Financial

Services (WGFS) offers up a few thoughts that may prove beneficial

as Western Growers members prepare to file their 2009

federal and state income tax returns.


In previous years there was an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

cap for individuals looking to convert their Traditional IRAs into

Roth IRAs. That restriction has been eliminated for 2010. Now

anyone can convert Traditional IRA money into their Roth IRA.

Because a Roth IRA holds after-tax money, as opposed the pre-tax

money held in a Traditional IRA, the amount of money that a taxpayer

converts will be subject to income taxes. The individual has

the option of paying the income tax on the entire amount in 2010,

or they can elect to split the obligation over two years – 2011 and


Who may want to convert their money to a Roth IRA?

Young workers, with IRA balance from a 401(k) at a previous

employer may benefit by converting that IRA to a Roth IRA.

Because younger workers have a longer period before retirement,

they will benefit the most from the compound interest that will

not be subject to taxes upon withdrawal from the Roth IRA at

their retirement.

Individuals with a large balance in their Traditional IRA may

want to consider a conversion to a Roth IRA. Having both types

of accounts at retirement may help provide more flexibility in tax

strategy during retirement.

Any individual who thinks that tax rates will be higher in their

retirement than the tax rate they are currently paying. Current

headlines on the cost of healthcare, social security and other

public programs are contributing factors to many individuals who

believe that higher tax rates are in the future of our nation.

A person or family that is for any reason in a lower tax bracket

than usual for 2009. Many factors, including unemployment or

investment losses, could result in a lower AGI. It may be beneficial

to convert Traditional IRA money into a Roth IRA during

that same tax year, since it may be taxed at a lower rate. In this

instance the individual would elect to pay the income taxes immediately,

as opposed to postponing to 2011 and 2012.

Individuals who have previously been prevented or restricted

from making Roth IRA contributions due to income limits.

Any individual with more money saved than they think they

will spend during their retirement. Unlike a Traditional IRA, a

Roth IRA holder is not subject to required minimum distributions.

Estate planning strategy may include using Roth IRAs to

pass on wealth to beneficiaries in the most tax efficient manner.

Who may not want to convert their Traditional IRA to a Roth


A person that anticipates the need to withdraw the money for

retirement within the next five years. All Roth IRAs have a minimum

of a five year status from the taxable year in which there was

28 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

the tax deadline



a contribution before distributions can be made without incurring

a 10 percent penalty.

An individual who does not have the ability to pay the income

taxes on the conversion without withdrawing funds from a retirement

account. A conversion is not recommended if it means

dipping into your retirement savings.


Last month, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law that

makes charitable contributions to qualified organizations working

toward Haitian relief efforts tax-deductible for the 2009 tax year.

Eligible contributions are cash (not property or services) donations

made between January 12 and February 28 of 2010. To

qualify, tax payers must itemize their deductions on Schedule A.

Those using a short form or claiming the standard deductions will

not be able to claim their contributions.


This year, numerous tax law changes have been enacted or

altered that may affect agricultural businesses. Other previously

enacted tax limits are scheduled to be limited in the future. Some

of the issues Western Growers members should be aware of before

filing their 2009 taxes include:

Depreciation and Section 179 Expensing Limits

5 Year Recover Period for New Farm Machinery

Additional First Year Depreciation

Limitations on Farm Losses

Before implementing any changes to one’s individual retirement

account, WGFS recommends consulting with a tax professional.

“We are in business to help our clients achieve financial security,”

WGFS President Matt Lewis said. “Western Growers members,

whether they are currently our clients or not, should feel free to

reach out to us at any time regarding any questions they may have

as they relate to financial planning.”

WGFS was established to assist clients in aspects of their financial

lives and are available to answer any questions Western Growers

members or potential members may have regarding financial matters.

For more information, contact Matt Lewis (mlewis@wga. @ g

com) at (949) 885-2379.

Western Growers Financial Services Disclaimer: This information

does not constitute tax advice and is provided for informational purposes only.

All information provided here are intended as a convenient source of information; the

information provided is not legal or tax advice. We recommend that you consult your legal

on this information, you should consult your own tax advisor regarding your tax needs.

Western Growers Financial Services makes no warranties and is not responsible for

your use of this information or for any errors or inaccuracies resulting from your use.



Nunhems Variety

Becomes Top Processing

Tomato in California

More than 109,800 loads—nearly

5.5 million pounds—of Nunhems’ SUN

6366 processing tomato were delivered to

California processors in 2009 according to

the Processing Tomato Advisory Board. This

makes SUN 6366 the number one variety

grown in the state, which is responsible

for more than 90 percent of the nation’s

processed tomatoes.

Nunhems, the vegetable seed business of

Bayer CropScience, is proud of its variety’s

success. “The performance of SUN 6366 has

silenced the myth that a high tonnage crop

of tomatoes cannot have a high level of brix

and fruit quality,” said Carl Hill, Nunhems

processing tomato crop sales manager. “It’s

very fulfilling to know many growers are

enjoying tremendous success with the help

of this variety.”

First introduced commercially in 2004,

only 118 loads of SUN 6366 were delivered

its first season. Its popularity expanded

steadily and rapidly as growers recognized

the genetics of the variety provided excellent

yields of harvestable fruit for the professional

tomato grower and high quality fruit useful

in a wide range of products for tomato

processors. The 109,800 loads from 2009,

or nearly 33 billion individual tomatoes,

represent double the total number of loads

delivered for the first five years the variety

was commercially available, according to

data reported by the California Tomato

Advisory Board.

More importantly, the quality of the fruit

was excellent. The loads delivered in 2009

averaged only 0.9 percent mold and 1.7

percent limited use as well as an impressive

5.58 brix, slightly better than the average of

5.56 brix SUN 6366 delivered between 2004

and 2009. This level of consistency added to

the variety’s reputation among both growers

and processors who also appreciated its true

mid-season maturity at 118 days and standard

disease resistance package (VFFNP).

Tank Mix App

Available from DuPont

Obviously following the popular trend

of information dissemination, DuPont Crop

Protection (CP) recently announced an

innovative application to help customers – a

“TankMix App,” created for iPhone and

iTouch users.

The DuPont Information Technology’s (IT)

Innovation Office, under the leadership of

Director John Puckett, sponsored the project.

The TankMix App provides basic math

calculations for the amount of product and

water needed per tank or area. The current

TankMix App does not contain product

specific information, however, a link to the

DuPont CP website guides users to specific

production information and usage guidance.

This app calculates spray volumes.

According to John Chrosniak, regional

business director, Crop Protection, North

America, the team was able to develop the

app through the collaboration of a crossfunctional

team. Team members included

John Beitler, Kevin Ego, Bernardo Tiburcio,

Chandra Manickam and Mike Hemman.

Work on future versions and additional

applications that support Crop Protection

products are underway.

The TankMix App is available through

Apple’s App Store, where it is free to download

on any Apple iTouch or iPhone. A

simple search for Crop Protection, DuPont or

Agriculture will give growers access to the

free calculator.

Gills Onions Achieves

Climate Registered


Gills Onions recently achieved the

environmental leadership status of “Climate

Registered” by successfully registering its

comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG)

emissions inventory according to the

rigorous standards of The Climate Registry.

Participation in The Registry’s voluntary program

demonstrates Gills Onions pioneering

role within California’s Agriculture and Food

Processing industries.

Climate Registered is the first step in

a successful emissions management and

reduction strategy. By establishing a clear

and consistent inventory of GHG emissions,

Gills Onions gains insight into its operations

and processes. It also is better prepared for

the potential impact of new regulations and

risk management strategies.

”We’re honored to have our efforts to

document our carbon footprint recognized

by The Climate Registry and proud of our

accomplishments in meeting the rigors of

registering our GHG emissions, as well as the

results we’ve already achieved in becoming

a more earth-friendly, sustainable grower

and processor,” said Steve Gill, co-founder of

Gills Onions. “We look forward to continuous

process improvement in all areas of

sustainability and excited about continuing

to be more efficient in the use of energy

and water, further reducing our waste, and

realizing the benefits not only to our bottom

line, but also to our employees, customers,

and the communities we serve.”

Gills Onions is at the forefront of sustainable

agriculture and food processing – and

earned the 2009 California Governor’s

Environmental and Economic Leadership

Award (GEELA). GEELA is California’s highest

and most prestigious environmental honor.

“In 2008, our total verified Entity-Wide

Emissions amounted to 6,894 tons of CO2

equivalent emissions,” stated Nikki Rodoni,

Gills Onions director of sustainability. “With

this as our benchmark, we anticipate a

significant reduction in our carbon footprint

for 2009 due to the implementation of many

new sustainability measures we undertook

this past year.”

In July of 2009, Gills Onions began

operating its Advanced Energy Recovery

System (AERS) to convert 100 percent of its

daily onion waste – up to 150 tons – into

ultra-clean, virtually emissions-free power

from two 300 kW fuel cells to provide power

for its processing facility.

Currently, the firm has embarked on a

Zero Waste program to further reduce waste

and GHG emissions resulting from waste

disposal activities in all their operations,

and are designing water conservation and

recycling systems to reduce and reuse water

requirements for processing – that will ultimately

reduce further GHG emissions.

MARCH 2010 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com 29



This month’s photos feature John (13) and Jackson (10) Baillie, sons

of John Baillie of Baillie Family Farms LLC., Salinas, Calif. The boys

are great grandsons of longtime Salinas icon, Jack T. Baillie.

(Editor’s Note: On a monthly basis, we will feature the children up to age 18 of Western Growers

members photographed in an ag venue. Please email your submissions to: paula.olson@wga.com.)

30 Western Grower & Shipper www.wga.com MARCH 2010

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