The vast majority of American politicians are in the business of kicking the can down the road, with one notable exception: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

I know “kicking the can down the road” is an old cliché used to reference the arms race, federal budget, childcare, healthcare…any number of issues. Here in District 18, I’m referring to the issue of desperately-needed support for agriculture, support that can help move us into the future.

Everyone in our community knows that as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” Salinas is an important part of a global food network. Zoe Lofgren has proven herself our staunch advocate, even though she only absorbed our constituents, along with our agricultural industry, into her district two years ago.

Zoe has shown herself to be uniquely dedicated to the agricultural community’s needs. She is savvy enough to understand how critical it is that the ag industry benefits from the mecca of technology and entrepreneurial spirit that our district enjoys. She knows it makes sense to saturate agriculture with the high tech flowing out of Silicon Valley.

As a committed representative for our community, Zoe has made it a point to reach out regularly to our industry leaders, including me. She requests information, background, and answers to her questions so that she can be more effective. This kind of crosstalk and collaboration are what our country needs, and Zoe is leading by example in this district.

For instance, she fought to secure emergency relief for growers impacted by the January 2023 and March 2023 atmospheric rivers. She urged House leadership and appropriators to pass an emergency recovery package for agricultural producers. She also wrote to the Office of Management and Budget, requesting that agricultural disaster relief be included in the Biden Administration’s emergency supplemental funding request. As a result, a whopping $2.8 billion was earmarked to support farmers and others who suffered losses due to natural disasters.

Zoe led the bipartisan California congressional delegation in supporting the State of California’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration following both sets of storms. These declarations unlocked significant federal funding for impacted communities, local governments, and businesses, including emergency loans by the USDA.

She authored the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to address the agricultural labor crisis, a bill that became the first agriculture labor reform legislation to pass the House of Representatives since 1986. It provides a vehicle for some 1.5 million farmworkers to receive legal status. It improves the temporary agricultural visa program to give more flexibility to employers while ensuring critical protections for workers.

As the top Democrat on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Zoe has led bipartisan efforts to spur innovation in crop science, precision agriculture, and other research projects that benefit agricultural communities. She is advocating for a boost to specialty crops initiatives in the upcoming Farm Bill and is working to reform crop insurance so that specialty growers have insurance products available to them. 

Together with another proven ag supporter, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, Zoe has introduced legislation to revise the Adjusted Gross Income limits that prevent local producers from accessing USDA programs.

These are just a few examples of Zoe’s dedication to the Salinas Valley.  

With Zoe’s continued support, we can positively impact the post-harvest industry in the region. She understands that new builds and advanced infrastructure projects will create higher jobs tax revenue for the City of Salinas and all of Monterey County. 

Since 1936, one storied company located on an iconic 28-acre campus in the heart of Salinas has been supporting the fresh produce post-harvest industry. Now, Post Harvest Technologies has led the charge to develop environmentally friendly post-harvest infrastructure, pre-cooling, and cold storage facilities.

From the early days over 85 years ago, manufacturing block ice to sustain freshly-harvested produce on its way to market, to our present-day designs for state-of-the-art automation and robotics housed in a technologically-advanced, environmentally-friendly footprint, Post Harvest Technologies is a visionary driving innovation. We are committed to breathing new life into struggling communities and positively impacting California’s ag industry. We are determined to move District 18 into the future.

To do that, we need effective and experienced leadership in our corner. We need a political visionary who has a track record of supporting the industry and who understands the long-term benefit to grower-shippers, retailers, consumers, and the greater community.

To change the face of the fresh produce post-harvest industry, we need Zoe Lofgren.

Vote Zoe on March 5.

Jim White is Chairman, CEO and President of the oldest company in Monterey County: Growers Ice Company, founded in 1936. He also is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc., and the bestselling author of five books, including “Broken America: Ten Guiding Principles to Restore America and Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds.”

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