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WG Members Educate Canadian Agtech Startups about Water, Labor Issues in the West

Posted on March 03, 2022 13:31 PM by WGCIT

Today, the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (WGICT) connected specialty crop farmers in California with agtech start-up companies from Canada to strengthen the development of agricultural technologies globally. The virtual event was hosted by Western Growers (WG), in partnership with THRIVE/S2G Ventures, as part of the Government of Canada’s sponsorship of the WGCIT.

“In addition to creating innovative initiatives to accelerate the development of agtech, Western Growers serves as connector,” said WGCIT Director Dennis Donohue, who was moderator of the event.

The meeting kicked off with WG members Josh Ruiz of Church Brothers Farms, Jason Giannelli of R&G Fanucchi, Mark Mason of Huntington Farms and Luis De la Garza of Royal Berries providing insight into the issues farmers in the West are facing. The group also spoke about the types of technologies they are currently interested in and the steps they take to prioritize which new technologies to trial.

“Water is what is most important to us right now,” Giannelli said. “We are interested in tech that will allow us to become more efficient water users.”

In addition to water, technology to ease labor woes was elevated to the top of the list. Mason noted how there is a need for solutions to help farmers deal with new regulations, such as the ag overtime rule, and overcome challenges in trying to fill roles both on the farm and in the office. He also spoke about the importance of hiring tech-savvy employees to navigate the technology.

“Once we get the tech on the ranch, we need people who know how to use it and who are able to speak in ‘tech terms’ with the suppliers when there is an issue with the technology,” Mason said. “Whether it’s with a two-year tech training or another solution, that’s something we need to address as an industry.”

The event then closed with a 30-minute Q&A session where nearly 10 startups from Canada had the opportunity to ask the growers questions about the application of their specific solution to U.S. farms and how to better engage with specialty crop farmers.