Editor's Note: “China After Accession to the WTO: Customer or Competitor for Western U.S. Horticultural Producers” will be discussed at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9 at Western Growers 79th Annual Meeting, “Islands of Opportunity,” at the Fairmont Orchid in Hawaii.

China is emerging as one of the fastest growing producers in the world. Rising incomes and its increasing market-oriented economy, however, are also shifting demand rapidly. China has already surfaced as a competitor for fruits and vegetables grown in the United States.

“It is imperative that we are aware of our mounting competition to the East. As the global marketplace transforms,” said Thomas Nassif, Western Growers president and CEO. “We must explore ways to keep domestic production viable while looking at the increasing competition in our Asian market.”

The seminar will be conducted by Scott Rozelle, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California at Davis and the University's Chancellor Fellow in 2000. Rozelle's research has focused almost exclusively on China concentrating on agricultural policy, including the supply, demand and trade in agricultural projects, the emergence and evolution of markets and other economic institutions in the transition process and their implications for equity and efficiency; and the economics of poverty and inequality.

Supply-demand drive

“I will examine the underlying forces that will be driving the supply, demand, marketing and trade of fruits and vegetables inside China and into and out of China through international markets,” Rozelle said. “Issues such as the recent expansion of production capacity; China's marketing reforms; the rise of supermarkets and the accession of China to the WTO.”

Rozelle is the chair of the International Advisory Board of the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy and he recently received the Quality of Research Discovery Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association. He is also an associate director of the University of California's Agricultural Issues Center.

Western Growers 79th Annual Meeting will include a hands-on nutrition workshop. A yearly highlight of the convention is the Political Action Committee breakfast, featuring leading opinion makers, including Ken Khachigian, political strategist and former speechwriter to Ronald Reagan and a fundraiser benefiting Western Growers Charitable Western Growers Award of Honor recipient this year is Don Talley, president of Talley Farms and Talley Vineyards in Arroyo Grande, Calif., at the annual convention in Hawaii. The Award of Honor is given to an individual member who has demonstrated excellence in the field of agriculture and community service.

“Don demonstrates everything we have come to associate with leadership, compassion, drive and a true love of farming,” said Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif. “He has dedicated himself to the improvement of the industry and he carries on a tradition of quality, stewardship and innovation. It is our honor to pay tribute to his life's work.”

Long established

The Talley's began farming in 1948, when Oliver Talley started growing specialty vegetables in the Arroyo Grande Valley. Today, two generations maintain Talley Farms' international reputation for quality produce. Talley Farms is a grower, packer and shipper of beans, bell peppers, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, squash, mixed vegetables and other commodities. Talley Vineyards produced its first wine, 450 cases, in 1986. The winery's first five vintages were produced in a small winery near the farm's vegetable coolers.

High quality and long-term sustainability are the two guiding principles in the family's farming operations. Biologically based farming techniques are employed and pesticide use is generally avoided throughout the vineyards. The winery produces about 14,000 cases annually.

Talley was a member of Class 2 for the Agricultural Leadership program and served on the Western Growers board of directors from 1984 to 1999. He was a member of the Board of Governors, Council of California Growers from 1978 to 1985, was Chairman in 1984. In 1992, he was named as San Luis Obispo's Agriculturist of the Year. Talley has also served on the Board of Directors for the Grower-Shipper Vegetable Association in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties and Farm Credit West. He is also a founding member of the San Luis Obispo County Agricultural Task Force, where he served as president in 1994. He was a member of the Board of Governors for the Council of California Growers from 1978 until 1985.

For a complete conference schedule, visit www.wga.com.