FOR THE REGISTER
Ag Health Benefits Alliance celebrates 50 years of service to the Northern California farming community. The company has provided health insurance and other benefits to farm employees since its inception as the California Winegrower Foundation in 1972.
That year, Ren Harris, founder of Harris Vineyards/Paradigm Winery, and a small group of forward-thinking winemakers from Napa and Sonoma shared a common goal of improving working conditions for agricultural employees, including seasonal workers. The founders recognized that offering a comprehensive benefits program helps attract and retain a healthy and productive workforce.
They also believed that the financial security and health of California farmworkers was essential to the economic vitality, cultural richness, health and beauty of the entire community.
“The concept of bringing producers together to collectively provide benefits to their workers was innovative for its time and helped create a culture of caring for farm workers that still exists among members today,” said the executive director. Rebecca Barlow.
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To clarify its purpose and identity, the non-profit organization was renamed the Ag Health Benefits Alliance in January 2019. Today, AHBA’s bilingual team serves nearly 100 local growers, vineyard managers and wineries , overseeing health care coverage for more than 1,600 employees and their families.
“We have a unique group health program through our partnership with an agricultural trust offering flexible plan features and competitive pricing,” says Barlow. “We also offer medical, dental, vision, voluntary benefits, disability and group life insurance products through other California insurance companies. These two channels allow us to compare a wide range of options for employers and develop strategic and comprehensive benefits programs. »
Also in 2019, the AHBA formed the Agricultural Health Benefits Alliance Educational Foundation LLC, a qualified charitable scholarship program available to employees and their families enrolled in the AHBA Group Health Plan. Funded by board member Michael Wolf, the Michael Wolf Trust and a growing list of others, the Education Foundation offers grants for vocational training, trade schools, community colleges and higher degrees. .
“Our guiding philosophy at Ag Health Benefits Alliance has remained the same since our inception. We continually strive to make benefits affordable, manageable and understandable,” says Barlow. “It is our privilege to serve this community of caring employers. and generous people and their employees. We look forward to continuing the tradition for another 50 years.
Photos: Meet Mark Eggan, Napa bartender and small business owner