Monterey County Farm Bureau

CFBF Annual Meeting

California Farm Bureau Federation held their Annual Meeting in Reno, NV at the Peppermill Resort, with over 700 Agricultural members participating in meetings, workshops and breakouts, and the House of Delegates.

While there was not much in the way of policy changes this year, there was considerable interest in the leadership elections for the CFBF Officers.  Four candidates announced for the office of 2nd Vice-President.

Delegates re-elected Paul Wenger of Modesto as president and elected two new vice presidents. Jamie Johansson of Oroville was elected first vice president and Tony Toso of Hornitos was elected second vice president. The elections occurred on the final day of the meeting, held in Reno.

Wenger begins his fourth two-year term as the 15th president of CFBF. He has served as a statewide officer of the organization since 1997, when he was elected second vice president. He was elected first vice president in 2005 and president in 2009. Wenger grows walnuts and almonds.

“I’m proud of the fact that Farm Bureau today is a respected agricultural organization because of the leadership shown by the CFBF board and by county Farm Bureaus,” Wenger said. “We have to continue to fight and lead the way.”

Johansson assumes a new role as first vice president after serving three terms as CFBF second vice president, an office to which he was elected in 2009. He grows olives and citrus fruit and operates an olive oil company.

Toso was elected second vice president after serving since 2011 on the CFBF board of directors, where he represented Merced, Madera and Mariposa counties. He is a past president of the Mariposa County Farm Bureau and the Merced/Mariposa County Cattlemen’s Association, and president-elect of the California chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. He raises cattle and is a partner in an appraisal company.

Seven members were newly elected to the CFBF Board of Directors. Ronnie Leimgruber of Holtville will represent Imperial and San Diego counties; Tom Rogers of Madera will represent Merced, Madera and Mariposa counties; Joe Martinez of Winters will represent Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties; Susan Hoek of Penn Valley will represent Butte, Nevada and Yuba-Sutter counties; Dominic Carinalli of Sebastopol will represent Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties; Willis Dow of Susanville will represent Lassen, Modoc and Plumas-Sierra counties; and Blake Alexandre of Crescent City will represent Del Norte and Humboldt counties.

Tyler Blagg of Lodi was elected to chair the statewide Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee and will serve as an advisory member of the CFBF board.

Monterey County Farm Bureau was recognized with five County Activities of Excellence Awards in the areas of Membership, Policy Implementation, Leadership, Ag Education, and Public Relations.

These distinctions reconized efforts of Monterey County Farm Bureau on behalf of it's membership and the relationship we have with our greater community, as well as involvements in state and federal issues.

In responding to water shortages, forming new groundwater management agencies, and engaging in political advocacy, California farmers and ranchers must unite and cooperate as never before, according to California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger. Wenger spoke during the opening general session of the 97th CFBF Annual Meeting in Reno.

The past year has been challenging, Wenger said, as lingering drought and water shortages placed additional focus on agricultural water use even as many farmers and ranchers—himself included—lost crops due to lack of available water.

Having recently returned from a trip to Australia, which reconfigured its water rights system as the result of a 13-year drought, he said farmers there found that once their water rights were separated from their land, “they had lost one of the greatest assets they had had.” As a result, a significant amount of Australian farmland will be permanently fallowed.

“It didn’t need to be,” Wenger said, “and it certainly doesn’t need to be here in California.”

Wenger said the formation of local groundwater sustainability agencies in California will require farmers and ranchers to work together to ensure groundwater is managed appropriately.

“Put the pressure on the folks in your area to come together … to make sure they can control their groundwater effectively, locally,” Wenger said.

With an election year coming that he said would be “hugely important,” Wenger urged farmers and ranchers to make political action a part of their “everyday budget.”

“If we will continue to work together, we will not just endure, but we will thrive,” Wenger said.