Nassif to be honored for contributions to the fresh produce industry |

Nassif to be honored for contributions to the fresh produce industry

IRVINE, Calif. – Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers since 2002, has been named the 2019 Award of Honor recipient for his innovative approach to addressing key issues confronting agriculture and unprecedented influence in shaping the fresh produce industry. The Award of Honor is Western Growers’ highest recognition of industry achievement.

Prior to Nassif’s tenure at Western Growers, he was as a lawyer specializing in agricultural labor, where he represented the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and was one of the first attorneys to try a case before the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. He also served as a partner at DLA Piper, a global law firm. He later used his skills as a labor negotiator to help drive the completion of an immigration bill in 2013 that passed the Senate with bipartisan support. Unfortunately the bill was not taken up by the House.

Nassif’s passion for protecting the long-term viability of farms in California, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico has directly resulted in laws and programs that will have a lasting impact on the industry. Shortly after taking the leadership reins at Western Growers, Nassif spearheaded the effort to prioritize specialty crops on a federal level. He helped pass the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act as part of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill; this was the first time in history that specialty crops received recognition in federal policy. He also played a vital role in the successful implementation of specialty crop provisions in the farm bill.

Additionally, Nassif helped navigate the industry through the tumultuous 2006 spinach E. coli outbreak, which led to the creation of the industry’s first self-regulating food safety regime—the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. He continues to aid the advancement of the industry through groundbreaking agricultural technology initiatives, providing growers access to viable technologies that will allow their farm to remain sustainable in the face of escalating global competition and an increasingly stringent regulatory environment. This includes the launch of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology — a premier agtech incubator — and the AgSharks Competition.

Nassif’s remarkable career is highlighted by his service in President Ronald Reagan’s administration where he worked in several capacities, including deputy and acting chief of protocol for the White House; deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East and South Asian affairs; and ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco. Nassif’s achievements and service to the industry will be recognized at the Award of Honor Dinner at Western Growers’ Annual Meeting in Maui, Hawaii, on Nov. 12, 2019. There, Nassif will be honored by his peers, friends and family. To attend the ceremony, visit

Self elected to SWCA executive committee

Jeff Self, farmer and current vice president of the Colorado Corn Growers Association, was elected to the Southwest Council of Agribusiness executive committee during the organization’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas, on Sept. 23, 2019.

Self became a board of director for CCGA in December 2014 and SWCA in 2017. “It is an honor to represent corn farmers at the state, regional and national levels. Our collective efforts really matter, and I am proud to represent my peers and work on programs and legislation to make a difference in our industry.”

One of two appointments, Self and Josh Winegarner, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, join five other board members on the SWCA executive committee. Board of directors elected the following officers: President, LG Raun, Texas Rice Producers; Vice President, Tony Dill, Western Peanut Growers Association; Vice President, Jim Sugarek, Texas Corn Producers Association; Secretary/Treasurer, Steve Verett, Plains Cotton Growers; and Past President, Matt Huie, South Texas Cotton and Grain. ❖