Editor’s note: In his Grower Achievement Award acceptance speech, J&D Produce’s Jimmy Bassetti called on Congress, Secretary Perdue, and President Trump to act on issues important to growers. Here is a partial transcript of his speech:
Good morning and thank you all for being here today! I can’t think of a better place to receive an award than right here in our nation’s capitol. Just think about all the great women and men who have helped shape American into the great country in the world!
How did I get here today? My wife Diane and I were blessed to come from two amazing produce families. Diane’s family, the Danitos, and my mom and dad were produce people through and through. Our roots in Vineland, NJ, gave us the foundation to be who we are today. Our parents taught us the value of hard work, honesty, how to treat people with respect and to be transparent. Those have been the cornerstones of our success, with both our customers and our growers.
For that, Diane and I would like to say, thank you. We know you are with us here today, and are proud of us for carrying on your legacies. We miss you and love you.
I have never looked at what we did as work. We sacrificed much and worked long hours to build our version of the American Dream. And we did it for the love of the business, not for the money, not for the awards. We did it because it was our passion!
One last thing. While I have the stage at the Washington Conference here in our nation’s capitol, I would like to share one last message with our Secretary of Agriculture and our Congress and with our President. The message is simple: Get something done.
American fruit and vegetable growers are struggling to survive this labor crisis. Make no bones about it. It is a crisis. We understand that imports are a a very important part of our industry. We import product ourselves.
However, U.S. agriculture, fruits and vegetables specifically, are suffering because we do not have adequate labor to harvest our crops. For decades, our industry has been asking for help and seeking solutions to our labor crisis.
If our elected officials cannot cross the aisles and find legislative solutions, we will eventually find ourselves in a position where this country can no long feed itself.
Thank you all again for being here and everything you do. It’s an honor and a privilege to be here. God bless America and God bless the American farmer.