The 2018 Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) Grower Education Conference, was held on February 6-8, 2018, and the Industry Show on February 6-7, 2018, at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and brought the state’s industry together in an informative and entertaining setting, and according to Doug Bulgrin with Gumz Farms, all Badger State onion growers were in attendance.
“This is the biggest event in Wisconsin for vegetables,” Doug told OnionBusiness.com in early February. “We have five growers in the state, and everyone was there.”
According to the WPVGA website, the conference offered growers the opportunity to get a head start on the season with expert market outlooks, research reports, information on new technologies and agribusiness advice. “The conference is a great place for growers to get the advice, tips, and insights that will give them the edge they need in a tough business,” the conference flyer said.
In addition to concurrent sessions that covered topics such as environmental quality, crop management, and soil and plant health, the conference included luncheon presentations that provided a legislative update, a Feeding America Update, and an appreciation award ceremony.
The event concluded with a WPVGA Associate Division Industry Banquet where over $1,500 in cash giveaways were provided to lucky winners.
The event included networking/socializing get-togethers for attendees to catch up with each other and the trade show that featured an array of exhibitors that service potato and vegetable growers throughout Wisconsin. Doug said many of the booths displayed equipment and machinery and the latest in technology. And the annual business meeting was also held.
“I think the biggest takeaway from the conference is that locally grown product is more important than ever with the current truck shortage,” he said. “We also looked at the workforce. Labor is hard to find, and we struggle to find workers in our area (Endeavor, WI).”
Doug added, “I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and in the beginning, we had to turn people away who were looking for jobs. Now if we can find people to work a week we’re doing good.”
“The upshot of the situation is that more and more growers/packers/shippers are turning to automation.”
Doug said Gumz Farms is automating more this year. “We have automated packing lines and will add to them,” he said. “We added automation to our storages and control that through our phones. Down the road there will be automated grading.”
Featured Image: The Gumz Farms team at the 2018 (WPVGA) Grower Education Conference