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Building on the success of last year’s first-ever professional salary and benefit survey for the fresh produce industry, the Western Growers Association announced the completion of a new and expanded survey.

The Western Growers 2011 Professional Salary & Benefit Survey will supply executives and human resource professionals with compensation information needed to make informed decisions about hiring and retaining executive-level, sales, office, logistics, field supervision and food-safety employees within their organizations. All of the more than 50 participating companies have operations within California and/or Arizona.

“For too long companies have been operating in a vacuum in regards to compensation packages for mid- and upper-level managers and officers and sales and marketing positions,” Kevin Andrew chief operating officer at M. Caratan Inc. and Columbine Vineyards, and a former chairman of WGA, said in a press release. “There have been ample surveys for hourly positions, but there’s a real lack of credible, comparable information for levels above that.”

The survey examined 30 positions within to the fresh produce industry, including some that currently are not included in major national surveys from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Professionals within the industry use this kind of data to determine benchmark pay and benefits levels, but have struggled in recent years to find reliable data for their very specific niche within agriculture.

“We had a large survey group,” Karen Timmins, vice president of human resources at WGA, added in the press release. “Because so many companies participated, results and information will be reliable, consistent and dependable. This mission-critical information can be used to form a successful pay strategy which attracts and retains people with the skills most indispensable to the profitability of an organization.”

To maintain the privacy and confidentiality of this highly sensitive material and the identities of the participating organizations, WGA secured an independent, certified compensation specialist hired expressly to compile the information.

WGA will provide aggregated compensation information to member companies beginning May 16 at a cost of $495. The association offers five levels of membership beginning at an annual fee of $400.