Feb 23, 2021
Diverse experiences to be featured at Salinas Valley Ag Tech Summit

The Eighth Annual Salinas Valley Ag Tech Summit on March 18-19 recognizes the increasingly international scope of the produce industry, with a number of presenters from Latin America and a diversity of experience and expertise from California.

Because this year’s summit will be presented in a virtual format via Zoom, attendees can also participate from anywhere in the world – with no charge for registration. Anyone interested can sign up to attend by visiting the webpage hartnellfoundation.org/2021-salinas-valley-ag-tech-summit/.

The lineup of speakers and panelists reflects fresh produce’s increasing complexity as competitors work to harness emerging technology and emerging markets, while ensuring that their managers and workers are ready to meet those opportunities.

A full-day program on March 19 will open with morning sessions that feature AgTech players and industry leaders presenting on key issues, including workforce challenges and the critical role of education. Afternoon sessions will spotlight “AgTech, the View From Mexico and the Americas,” as well as presentations from tech providers and growers. Portions of the program will be available in Spanish and English.

Among international presenters are Tomás Peña, co-founder of S4, one of Argentina’s earliest AgTech start-ups and a leading driver of the AgTech ecosystem across Latin America; agricultural economist Elisa Blanco, offering a global perspective on water as co-founder of the Center for Water Law and Management in Chile; and Jairo Trad, a software developer, data scientist and entrepreneur with business in six Latin American countries and the United States.

The day’s first panel will be a wide-ranging discussion featuring Leon Brish, co-founder and CEO of FarmDog; Mariana Valdez, soil science manager for Ag-Wise Enterprises Inc.; and Sebastien Boyer, co-founder and CEO of FarmWise, which made Time magazine’s Best Inventions of 2020 list for its autonomous weeder.

The second panel, focused on Education and Ag Technology, will include Peter Livingston, head of the BioResource & Agricultural Engineering Department at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Chris Kitts, director of the Robotic Systems Laboratory and associate dean of research and faculty development for the School of Engineering at Santa Clara University. The moderator will be Clint Cowden, Hartnell’s dean of Career Technical Education and Workforce Development.

An afternoon Keynote Fireside Chat on “The Importance of Education for Tomorrow’s Workforce” will include a Central Coast panel made up of Tom Nunes a fourth-generation farmer and president of the Nunes Company, a premier grower-shipper with production in California, Arizona and Nevada; John D’Arrigo, president, CEO and chairman of D’Arrigo Bros.; and Miles Reiter, CEO and chairman of Driscoll’s. The moderator will be Brie Reiter Smith, director of Driscoll’s quality systems design, supply chain.

Preceding the full-day program of speakers and panels on March 19, a President’s Reception will kick off the summit on March 18. The evening program will feature a 5:30 p.m. Fireside Chat with Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, moderated by Dennis Donohue, director of the Western Growers for Innovation and Technology. Raúl Rodríguez, interim superintendent/president of Hartnell College in Salinas, will give welcoming remarks. The college is co-presenting the summit with Western Growers.

Visit the event webpage at hartnellfoundation.org/2021-salinas-valley-ag-tech-summit/ to learn more about this year’s summit, including sponsorship and virtual exhibitor opportunities. For further information, contact Clint Cowden at (831) 755-6702 and [email protected]

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