CARMEL VALLEY, CA -- At its annual membership meeting held here March
22, the Fresno, CA-based California Grape & Tree Fruit League presented
Dennis Parnagian, president of Fowler Packing Co. Inc. in Fresno, with its
2010 Mentor Award in recognition of his dedicated service and committment
to the California fresh grape and deciduous tree fruit industry.
In presenting the award, Barry Bedwell, president of the league, noted that
following Mr. Parnagian's graduation from the University of San Francisco
with a bachelor's degree in business, he returned to his family's home in
Fowler, CA, and "began working in his father's [fruit packing] business. From
1970 to 1980, the business continued to grow," and Mr. Parnagian and his
brothers "became more involved and acquired more experience. They
developed fruit orchards and vineyards and built two additional packing
facilities, one in Coachella and the other in Fresno County. In 1980, his father
passed away, and he became president of the company." Since then, the
business has continued to grow.
Throughout his career, Mr. Parnagian has been deeply involved in the league
as well as in the California Tree Fruit Agreement and the California Table
Grape Commission, "always a leader and mentor at every step of the way," Mr.
In addressing members of the league in attendance at the meeting, Mr.
Bedwell said, "In my job representing you in public policy interests around
the state" whenever an elected official or other "special person" comes to the
Fresno area and wants to visit a packinghouse, Fowler Packing "comes to
mind first" because Mr. Parnagian, along with his family, "knows how to
present his case for his business and for agriculture better than anybody I
know in California."
In his report to the membership, Mr. Bedwell reviewed the issues that the
league's members have identified as their top concerns for the current year.
"The number one issue this year, which knocked immigration reform out of
the top spot, which had been there three years in a row, was labor laws and
labor relations," Mr. Bedwell said. Among the labor-related concerns are
proposed card-check legislation, which would deprive workers of the right to
secret ballot in elections deciding whether they want to unionize, a regulatory
proposal changing current law regarding the number of hours farmworkers
can work and regulations pertaining to heat illness.
Those issues are important to the industry because "we deal with very labor-
intensive products," he said.
The league's outgoing chairman, Marko S. Zaninovich, a partner in Sun View
Marketing International in Delano, CA, said in his report to the membership,
"We want to make sure that we have a voice when it comes to card check and
labor issues" as well as other issues of concern to the league. "We really want
the California Grape and Tree Fruit League to be the first place where
legislators and regulators look for information on these topics."
Labor issues were the focus of a workshop held earlier in the day. The
workshop dealt primarily with the history of the 35-year-old Labor Relations
Act in California and the grape industry's confrontations in the 1970s with
the United Farm Workers Union.
Among the panelists for the workshop were Bruce Obbink, who was
president of the California Table Grape Commission from 1971 to 1998; and
Joseph E. Herman, an attorney who represented the California agricultural
industry in the 1970s and who negotiated the industry's first contracts with
the UFW. Also on the panel was Miriam Pawel, author of the book The Union
of their Dreams: Power, Hope and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker
George H. Soares, the league's lobbyist in Sacramento, moderated the panel.
Immigration reform is number two on the league's list of priorities this year.
Among the other issues are water supply, invasive pests, pending food-safety
legislation, air-quality regulations, rising energy costs, market access,
traceability (which was the subject of another workshop) and the impact of
new health-care mandates.
The seventh annual Mila Caratan Memorial Golf Tournament was held
Tuesday, March 23, at the Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Course.
Incoming league Chairman David Marguleas, chief marketing officer of Sun
World International LLC in Bakersfield, CA, announced that the league's 75th
annual meeting will be held March 13-15, 2011, in the Coachella Valley at
the Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, CA.