A photo of smiling seven-year-old Braxten Wagstaff with his parents is shown as our featured image for the NOA Wrap-up story. Read on to find out why.
Onion growers and vendors, along with their family members, traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Dec. 1-4 to attend the National Onion Association Convention at the Fairmont El San Juan.
The agenda included committee meetings, a PACA (Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act) presentation by USDA Deputy Director Travis Hubbs as well as a food safety plan discussion with Dr. Jennifer McEntire from United Fresh. At the convention’s general session, NOA Executive VP Greg Yielding provided his annual report, and Director of Public and Industry Relations René Hardwick shared insights on the Association’s promotions.
The general session was attended by a group of 37 growers, suppliers, and vendors, with Greg Yielding speaking on the importance of growers attending the Washington D.C. trips and what impact the trips have on policy. He mentioned the R.T. Stanley call to Sonny Purdue and how it prompted the former Secretary of Agriculture to join an NOA meeting during the Trump administration and the positive effect that meeting had on allowing the delegations’ voices to be heard on matters of policy important to the onion industry.
Greg also mentioned how valuable it was to have Michigan onion grower Bruce Klamer on the NOA’s recent D.C. trip so the group could gain access to the office of Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
Following Yielding’s presentation, Relations, René provided social media tips to the group, referencing members of the NOA and their achievements. After special recognition of Yerington, NV-based Peri & Sons and of Tiffany Cruickshank with Snake River Produce in Ontario, OR, Hardwick spent most of her time touting the achievements of Shay Myers, grower/owner of Owyhee Produce Co., citing his “celebrity” status on TikTok, YouTube, and other social media channels. Then Hardwick explained to the group that engaging the audience was paramount to successful “social” success. She showcased a social media post of a plate of caramelized onions she had photographed herself, pointing out that in the post she asked her audience a question to engage them in a conversation. “You have a plate of caramelized onions. What do you do?” This particular post received 30 likes/loves, eight comments, and two shares. Currently, the National Onion Association’s Facebook page has 2,819 likes, their Instagram account has 926 followers and there are 2,292 followers on their Onionista Twitter account.
As part of the NOA promotion program, she emphasized the NOA website and how the Association promotes specific growers. On the NOA homepage, the NOA promotes seven individual growers with links to their own promotion page. https://www.onions-usa.org/ Those growers are A. Gurda Produce, Pine Island, NY https://www.onions-usa.org/grower-profiles/gurda-produce-pine-island-n-y/, Gumz Farms, Endeavor, WI https://www.onions-usa.org/grower-profiles/gumz-farms-endeavor-wis/, Sakata Farms, Brighton, CO https://www.onions-usa.org/grower-profiles/sakata-farms-brighton-colo/, Owyhee Produce, Parma ID https://www.onions-usa.org/grower-profiles/owyhee-produce-parma-id/ Northwest Onion Company, Brooks, OR https://www.onions-usa.org/grower-profiles/northwest-onion-company-brooks-ore/ Peri & Sons Farms, Yerington, NV https://www.onions-usa.org/grower-profiles/peri-sons-farms-yerington-nevada/, and Shuman Farms, Reidsville, GA https://www.onions-usa.org/grower-profiles/shuman-farms-reidsville-ga/
As one of the networking activities, the attendees were treated to an Old Town San Juan Food and Drink tour and OnionBusiness Publisher Sherise Jones captured some beautiful nighttime photos of the city lights.
On the final evening of the Convention, the raffle winner of $4,500 was announced – seven-year-old Braxten Wagstaff, eldest son of NOA member Tyler Wagstaff, Treasure Valley grower and family farm owner/partner of Central Produce Dist., Inc. By far, this was the highlight of the evening and put smiles on every face in the room. When interviewed by OB, Braxten said the raffle prize was the best thing that happened on the trip – besides the ocean and the pool – and he intended to use some of the money to buy a new Razor scooter after his dad bought a motorcycle.
View more photos from the NOA banquet below.
View additional photos from the opening reception.