The year 2020 has been a year like no other, and we hope we never see another one like it!

Gary Snyder
Gary Snyder

We are fortunate that our industry was recognized as essential and that our businesses have been able to stay open. Low cash flow is better than no cash flow. 

Many businesses in other sectors have been forced to close their doors forever due to COVID-19.

We all need food for life, and we are part of this process. Feel fortunate. But being essential does not mean business as usual.

The Washington State Tree Fruit Association, North Central Washington Fieldman’s Association and the Yakima Pom Club have had to face this reality and move the 116th Annual Meeting and NW Hort Expo to a virtual platform for the first time. Prerecorded and live meeting content with an interactive trade show is planned for our scheduled dates of Dec. 7–9.

The annual hort show is a place to learn from the experts and socialize with friends, business associates and colleagues to hear the latest research, ideas and opinions. This is more difficult online, but we can still have much of this experience in the virtual format. Special thanks to everyone on the planning committee whose advice and support has helped make this vision a reality. You all are amazing!

With the first ever virtual hort show and expo, you will be able to use your favorite device to watch live and prerecorded talks and ask questions while sitting at your desk, in your truck, in your orchard or wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection.

There will be challenges and opportunities for us, and we hope we can focus on the opportunities and overcome the challenges to make this a great experience for all. Kind of like farming!

We will hear from speakers and panels on the latest developments in familiar areas like pest management, technology, food safety and more. Our Batjer speaker will address a new topic: how COVID-19 disrupted transportation and distribution and what that will mean in the future. We will also have a keynote speaker on how the retail environment is changing. 

We have an amazing industry with amazing people.

Special thanks to the staff of the WSTFA and everyone involved in the planning process to make this virtual meeting a reality. They have put in many hours of their time, and their passion and dedication shows. We should feel proud to have these people on our team.

WSTFA has worked with agencies and legislatures on our industry’s response and helped our growers and packers to adjust and comply with new COVID requirements we are required to follow to stay in compliance and keep growing and packing food.

Our industry was not set up with 6-foot spacing in place, but we have learned how to adapt and conform to the regulations we need to follow. Will this be part of our new standard operating procedures? Time will tell.

We have learned how to adapt our previous “Pre-COVID-19” practices to our current experiment living with COVID-19, and we will see what the future brings us “Post-COVID-19.” Our industry has adapted to traumatic change in the past, and we can do so again.

We should be proud of how our industry responded to this crisis, doing our best to protect workers while providing a steady supply of food to the world. Without the cooperation and hard work of everyone in our industry to adapt to the evolving regulations, this success would not have been achieved. We need to praise all our employees — who are far too often overlooked — for their vital contributions to our society.

Save the date for the week of Dec. 7 so you have the opportunity to log on and attend the 116th Annual Meeting and NW Hort Expo.

Let’s keep working together today to make for a better tomorrow and a fruitful future.

by Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder is co-owner of C&O Nursery and the chair of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting. 

2020 Great Lakes EXPO will also be virtual

The Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market EXPO, which is moving to a virtual format for the first time ever in 2020, has released more information about its online schedule.

The EXPO, scheduled for Dec. 8–10, will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST the first two days and from 9 a.m. to late afternoon on the last day. Programming breaks are scheduled from 3 to 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. All of the typical sessions held at the Great Lakes EXPO will be available, though due to the different format, days and times may vary. 

Attendees will be able to attend more sessions than during previous years. Some of the new sessions planned for 2020 include: Beginning Farmer, Protected Culture, Mechanical Cultivation, Emerging Pest Issues, Pesticide Resistance Management and Hemp.

Check the EXPO website,, for the full program when it becomes available.