Tasteful Selections Takes Home The 2016 Grower Achievement Award

Lonny Smith of AgroLiquid (left) and Rosemary Gordon of American Vegetable Grower present Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections with the 2016 Grower Achievement Award Sept. 13 in Washington, DC, as part of United Fresh's Washington Conference.
Lonny Smith of AgroLiquid (left) and Rosemary Gordon of American Vegetable Grower present Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections with the 2016 Grower Achievement Award Sept. 13 in Washington, DC, as part of United Fresh’s Washington Conference.

 American Vegetable Grower® magazine’s 2016 Grower Achievement Award was presented to Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections, LLC on Sept. 13 at United Fresh’s Washington Conference in Washington, DC.

Bender said it was an honor to be named the 2016 recipient and he has big plans for the future, involving everything from the development of the next great potato variety to seeing the potential automation may bring to his farm and the industry.

Tasteful Selections, located in Arvin, CA, produces specialty potatoes as well as carrots, garlic, and watermelon. Bender, an integral part of the operation, not only overseas vegetable production he also was instrumental in getting a $30 million, 200,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art-processing facility built.

The Grower Achievement AwardSM is sponsored by AgroLiquid, and Lonny Smith, Senior Business Development Manager, helped present the award. Smith highlighted the farm’s accomplishments in year-round production as well as its processing facility, which is already undergoing an expansion.

Conference Highlights

Bob Bender (center) receives American Vegetable Grower magazine's 2016 Grower Achievement Award from Lonny Smith of AgroLiquid. Bob's wife, Stacie, also is pictured.
Bob Bender (center) receives American Vegetable Grower magazine’s 2016 Grower Achievement Award from Lonny Smith of AgroLiquid. Also pictured is Bob’s wife, Stacie.

 

Several tough topics also were tackled at United Fresh’s Washington Conference, including immigration reform, nutrition, and free and fair trade. The afternoon of Sept. 13, conference attendees visited members of Congress on Capitol Hill to discuss these critical issues.

Part of the discussion at the conference also focused on the upcoming presidential election. Without getting into any specifics, it was noted by Tony Freytag, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Crunch Pak and Chairman of the United Fresh Board of Directors, that it is a strange political year.

“It is beyond strange,” he said, “but we still have important needs in the industry including trade, labor regulatory issues, and nutrition. No matter who is president, we still have our hands full.”

Trade Agreements

Focusing on international trade, Ambassador Darci Vetter, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the U.S. Trade Representative, provided information on trade negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

“We are living in strange times in terms of international trade discussions on Capitol Hill and in our living rooms,” Vetter said. For TTIP, she said the negotiations are less advanced and that science-based decision making needs to be a focus.

For TTP, however, “This is a good one for U.S. agriculture,” she said. Negotiations with the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific countries were completed last October, and the TTP will present growers with an opportunity to increase profits as many of the countries involved in the agreement, such as Japan, are considered to be high income countries. In essence, growers will have an opportunity to get a high return for what that sell.

The TTP also would reduce tariffs, she said, and the agreement is projected to increase fruit and vegetable exports by nearly $1 billion.

“If we fail to pass TTP, we may be left behind as other countries are working on trade agreements,” Vetter added. “We need to make sure Congress understands the value of the deal.”

Labor Woes

Senator Thom T illis (R-NC) spoke during the lunch session on key industry issues such as immigration reform, trade and nutrition policy.
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) spoke during the lunch session on key industry issues such as immigration reform, trade and nutrition policy.

It is no secret that Congress needs to understand the importance of labor when it comes to specialty ag. Frank Gasperini, who is with the National Council of Agricultural Employers, told conference attendees that labor is a continuing limiting factor for agriculture as the H-2A and H-2B programs are the only legal guestworker programs.

Mechanization is being looked at but Gasperini said we can’t solve all the labor problems via automation. “Fruits and vegetables are very different from corn and soybeans, and mechanization is very costly,” he added.

Long-term projections are that Congress has to fix this problem. Short term, however, growers must get the crops harvested using the current difficult system, he said.

As the processing of H-2A workers is a complex situation, most growers receive workers, on average, about 20 days late. According to Gasperini, the more complex a program is, the more places there are for it to break down, and if your paperwork for the program isn’t perfect, that’s two strikes against you.

Chalmers Carr III, the owner and President of Titan Farms, LLC, a grower of peaches, bell pepper, and broccoli in South Carolina, is someone who has perfected his paperwork and has a 92% return rate of H-2A workers. Make no mistake, though, he said the U.S. workforce is shrinking, as workers age and fewer people are entering the job market.

As a result, it’s not a surprise to learn that more growers are turning to the H-2A program. It will continue to grow, he said, unless we get some kind of immigration reform. “We need to think outside the box,” he said.

Hanna Siegel, Deputy Director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, couldn’t agree more. She said the ag industry needs 1.5 to 2 million workers. The H-2A program, however, currently supplies just 4% of what is needed. Something needs to happen so crops don’t rot in fields.

The bottom line is that the current immigration system, which was created in the 1960s, simply doesn’t work in today’s society, Siegel explained.

“We have laws that don’t match reality,” she said.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Tasteful Selections Takes Home The 2016 Grower Achievement Award

  1. Growers who farm smaller farms simply can’t afford to mechanize and must rely on the H2A program or on domestic labor. The H2A program is difficult and expensive and domestic labor simply isn’t available. Smaller farms are in an especially difficult position at this time.
    Excellent article.

Farm Management Stories
Flooded peach and grape groves from Irma at UF/IFAS HAEC
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall Measured by the Trillions
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
A water-logged citrus grove in Southwest Florida following Irma
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the Florida Farmscape [Slideshow]
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Farm Management
October 6, 2017
California Small Farm Conference Celebrates 30 Years
Conference will be held October Oct. 29 - 30 in Stockton, CA. Read More
Greenhouse structures flattened by Irma at C&B Farms
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming in the Billions
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag Guestworker Act
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
Swamped citrus in Southwest Florida
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farmers Post-Irma
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
cash money in hand
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Value-Added Producers
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
GenNext Growers
October 1, 2017
USDA Announces $12.6M to Train Next Generation of Ag Scientists
Future ag scientists are looking to tackle exotic invasive pests, water quality monitoring. Read More
Field of carinata
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Research on Jet Fuel Cover Crop Ready for Takeoff
Scientists seeking to find if carinata can sustainably feed future renewable energy demands. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Agriculture Offers Rare Opportunity for Bipartisan Action
A running theme from agricultural-friendly politicians speaking at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference was the need for a bipartisan approach to agriculture and immigration. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Will H-2A Become H-2C? Find Out What the New Bill Proposes
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R VA) is re-introducing a bill that aims to replace H-2A. Here are some of the ways it will differ from the current program. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2017
Rise of Agricultural Automation Drives Innovative Event
The International Forum of Agricultural Robots aims to provide links to farming’s future. Read More
Citrus
September 25, 2017
Building Strong Advocates for Farming a Class Act
Emerging leader development for agriculture starts from the ground up. Read More
SFWMD Big Cypress Basin pump station following Irma
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Florida After Irma
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Handfuls of Florida hops
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmers Never Say Never
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
October 19, 2017
Disaster Relief: Ways Florida Growers Ca…
With billions of dollars lost to Irma, financial assistance will be crucial for many. Read More
Citrus
October 18, 2017
How to Keep Track of Climate Change
Use cool tools to find out how your production methods may change in the future, how much your area is at risk, and how to limit your own impact on the climate. Read More
Citrus
October 17, 2017
USDA Issues Disaster Declaration for Hur…
Operators in designated counties eligible for emergency assistance. Read More
Citrus
October 16, 2017
Wrath of Hurricane Irma’s Rainfall…
Report says storm dropped enough gallons of water on Florida’s St. Johns River Water Management District to swamp 6.7 million football fields. Read More
Citrus
October 10, 2017
Impressions from Irma Indelible on the F…
Striking images from the field reveal not only the storm’s destructive nature, but also paths to recovery and reconstruction. Read More
Farm Management
October 6, 2017
California Small Farm Conference Celebra…
Conference will be held October Oct. 29 - 30 in Stockton, CA. Read More
Citrus
October 5, 2017
Hurricane Irma Toll on Florida Farming i…
Preliminary damage estimates confirm storm’s ferocity. Read More
Citrus
October 4, 2017
Goodlatte Officially Introduces the Ag G…
On Monday, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced his Agricultural Guestworker Act of 2017 bill, which would replace H-2A with an H-2C program. Rep. Goodlatte introduced the bill to the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
Perseverance a Priority for Florida Farm…
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam heartened by the strides being made by growers around the state as they begin to recover from the hurricane. Read More
Citrus
October 2, 2017
$18 Million in Grants Available for Valu…
Farmers in need of planning or working capital funds to move their ideas forward encouraged to check out program. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Research on Jet Fuel Cover Crop Ready fo…
Scientists seeking to find if carinata can sustainably feed future renewable energy demands. Read More
Citrus
September 27, 2017
Agriculture Offers Rare Opportunity for …
A running theme from agricultural-friendly politicians speaking at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference was the need for a bipartisan approach to agriculture and immigration. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2017
Rise of Agricultural Automation Drives I…
The International Forum of Agricultural Robots aims to provide links to farming’s future. Read More
Citrus
September 25, 2017
Building Strong Advocates for Farming a …
Emerging leader development for agriculture starts from the ground up. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Flo…
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmer…
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More