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sunset orchard

Farm Atmosphere
As I traveled through the Yakima Valley on the way to a customer site, I looked out the window on tranquil farms, and I felt blessed to be traveling through the Valley on such a beautiful winter day.

Upon arriving at the customer’s farm, I was struck by the collegial atmosphere among the office coworkers as well as among the employees in the field and maintenance areas. I enjoyed meeting each crew boss and learning about the farm’s roadblocks and struggles. Getting ideas from people in the field allows us to adjust our products to best fit our customers’ needs.

I’m new to this business, so, after listening to our customers, I was reassured to know 2nd Sight has products that can help overcome time-tracking and piece work issues quickly and effectively. After all I saw and learned, I look forward to returning to the Yakima Valley soon.

 

Not so Marginal
Small discrepancies can be easily overlooked, but, when it comes to paying by the pound, they can result in lost profit. When growers pay and get paid by weight, accuracy is important.

In an extreme case, a 2nd Sight customer overseas experienced a weight discrepancy of 10% between the weight recorded by 2nd Sight’s FairPick scales and the weight recorded by its packing house. This customer shipped over 8,000,000 pounds of blueberries to the packing house but was told that the packing house scales recorded only 7,200,000 pounds. As a result of this “small discrepancy,” the customer requested that the packing house check its scales with a calibrated weight. The customer learned that the FairPicks had recorded the correct weight, and the packing house owed the customer payment for an additional 800,000 pounds of blueberries. Based on this alone, the customer’s 35 FairPicks paid for themselves in only six months!

2nd Sight’s FairPicks are NTEP certified and very reliable. While this extreme case is unlikely to occur in the U.S., using a FairPick can eliminate questions between growers and pickers about weight picked. In addition, this accurate weight data uploads to the 2nd Sight Customer Portal where growers have easy access to picker efficiency information, pay information, and much more.

 

Overtime
Our customers have expressed concern about Washington’s new overtime regulations. As of January 1, 2022, Washington State requires employers to pay overtime to all agricultural employees who work more than 55 hours in a week. Starting in 2023, that hourly maximum per week will drop to 48 hours, and, in 2024, to 40 hours per week.

2nd Sight has been stockpiling customer recommendations and ideas to create an overtime alert feature that will best suit our customers’ needs. Based on customer input, 2nd Sight has been diligently working to develop software and tools to let our customers know when an employee approaches the overtime threshold, so employers can avoid overtime expenses.

 


sunset orchard

Background
Starting this past December, I began my new adventure here at 2nd Sight Bioscience. My name is Dawson Lack, and I am taking over for Monika. Monika was an incredible employee and resource, and I have some big shoes to fill, but I would first like to formally introduce myself to our customer base and peers. I am a Spokane native born and raised. I graduated from EWU with a BA in finance and received my MBA just over a year later. I don’t have much experience with agriculture, but I am a quick learner. I am beyond excited to build relationships within the agricultural community because I admire the work ethic and authenticity of the farming community. As all of you know, our job here at 2ndSight is to make your lives easier. I am young, eager, and available, and I will strive to be there for you regardless of the date or time.

The World As We Know It
In my short tenure here, I have experienced the frustration of the current world situation, the long lead times, and the shortages of items that seem essential for business. I have been trying my best to pull every string possible to get in the essential products so we can be of service to you through harvest season – whether in sales, repairs, customer support, or whatever else may be needed to help make your lives easier. With perseverance and pluck, we will get through these trying times together.

Getting Through This Together
As I learn more and more about the everyday grind and struggle of farmers, the more respect I have for you, our customers. You toil from the earliest of days to the latest of nights, while having to deal with external factors that are completely out of your control such as extreme weather, pests, and other potentially catastrophic scenarios that can hinder your harvest. I am very excited to move forward with all of you, and, more importantly, I am excited to help you guys have the most efficient harvest yet.


sunset orchard

Over seven years ago, I started at 2nd Sight. At that time, we had some new ideas and an office building that needed a little elbow grease. Born and raised just north of Seattle, I knew very little about agriculture in Washington State. Well, I knew that we grow apples. I had a lot to learn about the specialty crop industry. As I begin my next career endeavor in a new industry, I wanted to take this opportunity in my last blog post to summarize a few thoughts about working in Ag.

Farmers Have a Lot of Rules to Follow
Regulations are important; however, there are a lot of things a farmer must think about to stay compliant. From pesticide/fertilizer applications, food safety tracking, and labor, it can be difficult for growers to follow all the rules, even with good intentions to do so. Since I started in the industry, Washington State has even seen changes to how existing labor laws are interpreted in agriculture (rest breaks and overtime, for example). A moving target is hard to hit! There can also be a disconnect between the folks making the rules and reality in the fields and orchards that can be frustrating for many growers.

Farmers Face Many Challenges
Speaking of frustrations…. The Ag industry continues to face challenges including labor shortages, increased regulations, rising input costs, international trade disputes, heightened pressures from pests, extreme weather events, and COVID-19 complications. Although growers may not be the fastest to adopt new technology, they are forced to get creative to keep their farms and orchards afloat. Although it sounds bleak, farms continue to become more efficient and productive which is impressive and commendable.

Farming is Still a Family Affair
Although consolidation is the direction of the Ag industry, many 2nd Sight customers are family farms. From the 10-acre plot to the 1000-acre operation, these farms are run fully or partly by the same families, passed down from generation to generation. When you bite into a Washington sweet cherry, apple, or pear, there is still a good chance that that piece of fruit has a story behind it.

Farmers Work Hard
Most look forward to the summer months, taking off a little early on a Friday to head to the lake, vacationing with the family, getting lost in the woods fishing, hiking, or camping… for farming, summer means business. When harvest is in full swing, growers work seven days a week, from dawn ‘til dusk. I can tell you from those early morning support calls that cherry harvest in Washington starts at about 4:30am. Mother nature never takes a day off and timing is critical. A farmer’s work schedule is not for everyone.

It has been a pleasure and honor to work in an industry that feeds our country and the world. I will miss working with great people who are giving it their all to grow quality produce and nursery stock. It is important to spread the word that fruit and vegetables do not come from grocery stores. Our produce is the fruits of labor of many hardworking people who strive to perfect the science and art of farming. 


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