Western Growers is proud to bring together the key decision-makers among America's premier growers, shippers, and processors, including suppliers and fresh produce-industry allies, for Western Growers' 97th Annual Meeting November 12-15, 2023. Surrounded by the beauty of Hawaii at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa, attendees will enjoy valuable networking, exceptional speakers, and compelling presentations. This year will bring an encore round of the popular AgSharks Competition, a Western Growers trademark event to support startups looking to create modern solutions for agriculture.
Thanks to new two-year terms, Caroline and I have the honor of being the first couple to host the Western Growers Annual Meeting twice, giving us a unique perspective that was not afforded to the 95 individuals who held the Chair before me.
No one warns you, but your first year as Chair is like drinking water from a fire hose. In addition to your regular personal and professional responsibilities, you are now consumed with the pressures of guiding an industry-leading trade association. Given the pace and short duration of previous tenures, I imagine past Chairs have felt inclined to heed the counsel of ancient Greek physician Hippocrates to “do no harm.” And now with a second year, I think the tables have turned and it is now our President hoping the Chair does no harm!
Given a second year in the saddle, certainly gives theChair the luxury of more time. More time for reflection. More time for evaluation. More time to be transformational instead of just transitional. The 97th Annual Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa has taken on new meaning as a result.
Of course, Caroline and I are still obsessed with maintaining the reputation of the Annual Meeting as the premier event in the fresh produce industry. We will continue to put on timely and thought-provoking educational sessions, feature world-class speakers and entertainment, and offer unparalleled networking and social events. In keeping with tradition, we will also present our Award of Honor to the legendary John D’Arrigo.
This year, however, we are equally focused on the Annual Meeting as a barometer of member engagement in the Association. Western Growers holds a unique space in the domestic food system as the pre-eminent representative of specialty crop growers (or, as House Committee on Agriculture Chairman GT Thompson refers to fruits, vegetables and tree nuts: “necessity crops”). Each day, a single mission drives our board of volunteer leaders and staff: to add exceptional value to our member companies.
Although Western Growers’ members represent an incredible array of diverse crops and growing districts, the ties that bind us together are strong and we can emphatically state that it is those powerful shared interests and experiences in production agriculture that unite us in ways the non-ag world doesn’t understand. But for any association to be of value to its industry, it requires the deliberate, sustained participation of its members – especially in agriculture, where our family farming operations face existential threats everywhere we turn.
Practically speaking, this means being intentional in your engagement with the Association, which we believe involves the face-to-face benefits the Annual Meeting provides. Our finely tuned “necessity crop” system is held in the balance not only by growers and their dedicated and hard-working employees, but also by our partners and allies along the entire supply chain that work to provide us with materials, equipment, services and support.
Please join Caroline and me as we acknowledge, celebrate and strengthen these bonds that tie our Association and protect the future of our industry.
Albert and Caroline Keck
This year, Western Growers will present the 2023 Award of Honor to D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California CEO/President and Chairman of the Board John D’Arrigo. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of achievement and is given to individuals who have contributed extensively to the agricultural community.
D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California is a vertically integrated grower, packer and shipper of fresh fruits and vegetables in California, Arizona and Mexico. John D’Arrigo, a third-generation farmer, began his farming career cutting and packing lettuce, loading celery and planting fields in the Salinas Valley during the 1970s. John served on the Western Growers Board of Directors for 28 years and as Chair in 2004. In addition, he served on the Western Growers Assurance Trust Board of Directors from 1997-2022.
Comedian Tom Papa will perform during the entertainment portion of this year’s Award of Honor Dinner Gala. One of America’s top comedians, Papa will provide an evening of laughter and entertainment. Mark your calendars for November 12-15 and get ready to laugh with Tom Papa at the Western Growers Award of Honor Dinner!
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa is a luxury oasis with lush gardens and acres of pools. It offers ocean-view dining, rooms with private lanais, championship golf and the Anara Spa.