We recently attended an amazing event that focused on the importance of innovation in the agriculture industry – the Western Growers Annual Meeting. Western Growers was founded in 1926 and represents local and regional family farmers, growing fresh produce across Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. In California alone, agriculture is a staggering $43-billion-dollar industry. The conference brought together experts from all areas of the industry to access the latest news and to hear from experts about the issues and ideas that are at the forefront of agriculture.
Union Leasing was proud to provide sponsorship for the event and we were eager to talk with people from the agriculture industry and learn about the convergence of technology with agriculture, as well as the potential benefits that Fleet Management may have on those in the industry.
The Western Growers Annual Meeting is an opportunity for those in the industry to be recognized among various brands and to network with key contacts. It was Union Leasing’s first time attending the event, and it was a great experience with many different networking opportunities.
Here’s a little bit of a recap about what we learned throughout the Western Growers 2018 Annual Meeting:
The Convergence of Technology with Agriculture
One of the very cool workshops we attended was called AgSharks which is, as the name suggests, quite similar to the format of the very popular TV show Shark Tank. AgSharks is the conference’s groundbreaking collaborative forum that aims to advance agricultural technologies for the fresh produce industry. The panel, which was made up of venture capital fund veterans, had the chance to invest in some companies that were at the forefront of leveraging new and innovative technologies.
Some of the companies looking for financial backing from AgShark were using lasers to control birds, and there was another company that developed a small automated vehicle to help workers in the fields be more efficient. It was fascinating seeing the marriage between technology and agriculture.
Genomics and the Age of a New Language
Another very interesting session we attended was a Genomics workshop that was run by Juan Enriquez, Futurist, co-founder of Synthetic Genomics, and co-author of Evolving Ourselves: How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation are Changing Life on Earth. Juan is an active investor in early-stage private companies in the life sciences sector, and is one of the world’s leading authorities on the uses and benefits of genomic research. Throughout this session, Juan talked about some really fascinating things—like how we’re now entering the age of a new language, “The Code of Life,” and he has a TED Talk that specifically addresses this topic in detail. Overall, the workshop highlighted how advances in genomics could potentially transform agriculture and affect how we live, work, and do business. Juan specifically discussed how newer gene-editing technologies are quite different from traditional GMOs and what their differences would mean for growers and consumers. Juan is an amazing presenter and a true genius, and he was able to address this topic in an easy-to-understand way for the audience.
Fleet Management and What It Means to those in Agriculture
For us at Union Leasing, what was really interesting to see throughout this event was the convergence of technology with agriculture and its potential to change the industry. It’s all about data and automated machinery, and how technology will help advance the industry. What’s more, the possible involvement of Fleet Management with companies in agriculture could allow for more efficient solutions to run their businesses. We spoke with many people throughout the conference about the potential of integrating Fleet Management solutions to help increase efficiency, and it was great to see interest from some of those we spoke with.
Overall, this conference was really the first of its kind for us—one that was eye opening and helped us realize the impact that technology has on so many businesses. Everyone was extraordinarily friendly, and there was this great sense of family and community throughout the conference.