CFBF Annual Meeting
California Farm Bureau Federation held their Annual Meeting in Anaheim on December 7th - 10th, 2014. Over 800 farmers and ranchers from around the State gathered to update Farm Bureau policies, set priorities, receive issue updates, and hear from CFBF leaders on the outlook for the future. Keynote speaker was Steve Ford, son of President Gerald Ford. Even though 2014 was a tough year for California Agriculture due to the continuing drought, spriits were upbeat as several rainstorms had already passed across the state bringing much needed moisture (and much more was anticipated as a large storm moved in at the conclusion of the Annual Meeting). A panel discussion provided information on the groundwater regulations now being implemented, establishment of a local groundwater sustainability agency (GSA), and the elements of the coming groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) to be developed locally in the coming six to eight years (more info here).
Monterey County named County Farm Bureau of the Year
The CFBF County of the Year award for Farm Bureaus with 400 to 699 agricultural members was presented to Monterey County Farm Bureau. The county Farm Bureau advocates for its members on a wide variety of topics with local officials and the news media, including water rights, water quality, desalination projects, air quality, illegal dumping, immigration and more. MCFB provides a weekly report of expected road closures and construction zones in the county, alerts members about weather that might trigger heat illness-prevention measures, and conducts a number of outreach, training and educational activities.
CFBF President Paul Wenger presents the award to MCFB President Jeff Pereira and Executive Director Norm Groot at the awards dinner on Monday, December 8th.
CA YF&R Discussion Meet and Achievement Awards
Effective discussion of farmers’ role in assuring food safety earned a Siskiyou County farmer first place in the California Farm Bureau Federation Open Discussion Meet. Brandon Fawaz of Etna was announced as winner of the contest during the CFBF Annual Meeting.
“Anytime I’m given a platform to talk about agriculture, I like to take it and I feel like this contest offers that opportunity,” said Fawaz, who is a hay grower, president of the Siskiyou County Farm Bureau and a member of the CFBF Board of Directors.
A total of 16 Farm Bureau members competed in the 2014 Discussion Meet, which encourages cooperation and communication and is designed to prepare young members for county Farm Bureau and committee meetings.
Jeff Alves of San Diego County was judged first runner-up in the contest; Andrea Krout of Sonoma County and Johnnie White of Napa County were the other finalists.
As winner of the contest, Fawaz will represent California at the American Farm Bureau Federation Open Discussion Meet, to be held in January 2015 at the AFBF Annual Convention in San Diego.
For winning the contest, Fawaz earned a 2015 Sportsman 570-efi all-terrain vehicle—valued at $6,800—courtesy of Polaris Industries, and $4,000 courtesy of Discussion Meet sponsors the California Association of Pest Control Advisers, State Compensation Insurance Fund, Rabobank, Dick and Cathie Bradley, and Farm Credit. As first runner-up, Alves received $1,000. The other two finalists each earned $500.
A dairy farmer from Kings County and a farm manager from Tulare County have received awards that recognize achievement and excellence by young farmers. Brian Medeiros of Hanford and Matt Watkins of Visalia were honored today during the Annual Meeting.
Medeiros earned the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award, recognizing efforts in production agriculture and leadership activity. In partnership with his father, he operates a dairy with 2,500 milking cows and grows feed crops. A graduate of California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo, Medeiros serves on the Kings County Farm Bureau Board of Directors, chairs the county’s Young Farmers and Ranchers program and also serves as a board member for several state and national dairy organizations.
In his membership application, Medeiros said his family strives to operate their dairy under three guiding principles: milk safety, animal welfare and employee safety, with a goal of being sustainable for generations to come.
“By having these principles in mind, we look at sustainability in three buckets: economical, social and environmental,” he said.
Watkins earned the Excellence in Agriculture Award, given to an individual who does not earn a majority of income from an owned production agriculture operation but who contributes through involvement in agriculture, leadership activities and Farm Bureau.
A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Watkins works as a farm manager for Bee Sweet Citrus, where he oversees farming of citrus fruit, mangos and dates on 9,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and Imperial Valley. Among his volunteer activities, he serves as a team leader in an area-wide treatment program to combat a serious citrus pest, the Asian citrus psyllid. A member of the Tulare County Farm Bureau board, Watkins said he has seen the value of political advocacy and media outreach.
“I believe it is crucial for farmers to be vocal in voicing their concerns to our elected officials,” he said. “Farming is essential to the economy and is a driving force for jobs, tax dollars and revenue.”
As winners of their respective awards, Medeiros and Watkins each earned a $4,000 cash prize sponsored by the California Association of Pest Control Advisers, Farm Credit, Rabobank and the State Compensation Insurance Fund. Medeiros also earned 250 hours’ use of a Kubota tractor, furnished by Kubota Tractor Corp.
Medeiros and Watkins will represent California in national competitions to be held in January 2015 at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in San Diego.
MCFB revises policy on Immigration Reform
During the House of Delegates at the CFBF Annual Meeting, where policy revisions are considered by delegates from each County Farm Bureau, MCFB was successful in updating the policy on Immigration Reform for both California Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau policies. Calling for comprehensive reform, MCFB advocated for three key points to be included as official policy of Farm Bureau:
(1) Pathway for current undocumented workers residing within United States borders to obtain legal authorization for employment and residence.
(2) Temporary worker visa program for agricultural employers who employ seasonal laborers through a simplified application process for both employers and foreign workers.
(3) Security of our borders with other countries in a manner that allows legally documented individuals to travel without risk.
This revised policy will be included in the 2015 CFBF Policy book; the AFBF policy revision will be forwarded to the AFBF House of Delegates for approval at their meeting in January 2015 in San Diego.