Speechless. Flabbergasted. Honored. Those were three words Robert Sakata of Sakata Farms in Colorado used to describe how he felt after receiving American Vegetable Grower’s 2014 Grower Achievement Award.
The award was presented Sept. 9 at United Fresh’s Washington Public Policy Conference. About 500 people from 36 states, Canada, and Mexico attended the conference. (Click here to watch a slideshow of highlights from United Fresh’s 2014 Washington Public Policy Conference.)
“It is a great honor to receive this award and to be here at this event with the people in the industry who represent agriculture. This has been an incredible experience,” Sakata said. “When you come to an event like [United Fresh’s Washington Public Policy Conference], you realize you are not alone,” he said. “Sometimes back on the farm, it doesn’t seem like that.”
As part of the conference, many attendees participated in the March on Capitol Hill to meet with congressional representatives and senators to discuss critical issues facing the produce industry such as immigration reform, water, child nutrition, and other concerns. (For more information on United, go to UnitedFresh.org.)
A Bright Future For Ag
In spite of the labor, regulatory, and other issues facing Sakata Farms and others across the nation, Sakata said he remains hopeful for the future. He noted that change will be inevitable and the agriculture industry will continue to grow and develop.
“Ag in the future will not be the same as it is today; it will continue to change and evolve,” he said. “I am confident that the people involved in the agriculture industry will have the persistence to work through the changes. I think it will be exciting to see what is going on in agriculture 25 years from now.”
American Vegetable Grower began presenting the Grower Achievement Award 13 years ago. Recipients of the award are noted for excellence in numerous areas, including food safety, marketing, innovative production practices, IPM techniques, and industry involvement.
As you will see, past award winners hail from all over the country and have earned superior marks in the areas mentioned above.
2002: A. Duda & Sons, Oviedo, FL
2003: Betteravia Farms, Santa Maria, CA
2004: Michael Farms, Urbana, OH
2005: Gary Shiflett Farms, Deming, NM
2006: Teixeira Farms, Santa Maria, CA
2007: Anthony Farms, Inc., Scandinavia, WI
2008: Lewis Taylor Farms, Tifton, GA
2009: Hansen Farms, Inc., Stanley, NY
2010: Alstede Farms LLC, Chester, NJ
2011: TKM Bengard Farms LLC, Belle Glade, FL
2012: Steven Lyles Farms, Las Cruces, NM
2013: Torrey Farms, Elba, NY
For more details about the Grower Achievement Award, go to GrowingProduce.com/vegetables/grower-achievement-award.