Courtesy Western Growers AssociationBruce Taylor, left, chief executive officer and chairman of Taylor Farms California, takes the gavel from Steve Barnard, president and chief executive officer of Mission Produce Inc., as the new chairman of Western Growers Association.(UPDATED COVERAGE Nov. 14) Bruce Taylor, chief executive officer of Salinas-based Taylor Farms California, started his term as chairman of Western Growers Association as the trade group’s 88th annual meeting in Hawaii came to an end.
Taylor succeeds Steve Barnard, president and chief executive officer of Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
Taylor, a third-generation produce grower-marketer, joined the family business after attending the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Business School. He led the development of Fresh Express and in 1995 founded Taylor Farms with several partners. He is chairman at Taylor Farms, which has nine manufacturing facilities in North America.
Taylor is also a past chairman of the Produce Marketing Association and of the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. He was elected to the Western Growers board in 1999.
The Western Growers board also selected Vic Smith, president and chief executive officer of JV Smith Cos., as senior vice chairman; Larry Cox as vice chairman; Mark Teixeira of Teixeira Farms as treasurer; and John Manfre of Frank Capurro and Son as secretary.
Speakers at the meeting included U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee; former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; and comedian John Pinette.
Courtesy Western Growers AssociationJon Vessey, second from right, receives the Award of Honor as Western Growers Association outgoing chairman Steve Barnard, right; Tom Nassif, president of Western Growers, left; and Jack Vessey look on.Issa discussed immigration reform and guest worker legislation for agriculture on Nov. 11, among other topics. The congressman referred to House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy’s recent statement that an immigration reform vote will not take place this year and that more discussion is needed on the status of people who have already entered the U.S. Issa said there is a middle ground on the issue, and while compromise faces obstacles in Congress, the debate needs to happen. Issa said he has an immigration bill that addresses the needs of agriculture.
Jon Vessey, owner and president of Holtville, Calif.-based Vessey & Co. Inc., was the trade group’s Award of Honor recipient. The company farms about 10,000 acres of organic and conventional crops in California’s Imperial Valley.
Vessey also received a lifetime achievement award from the University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. The award was presented by its dean, Shane Burgess.