Growing Possibilities Event in Lompoc, CA

Last Friday, it was my pleasure to speak at the first-ever “Growing Possibilities: Northern Santa Barbara County Agriculture” forum, held in Lompoc, California. It was a great event, highlighted by an entertaining and insightful keynote address from CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross addresses the “Growing Possibilities” Ag Forum in Lompoc, California on September 12, 2014

Most encouraging for me, as the CEO of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, was Secretary Ross’ comments about the importance of California agriculture as a leader in food safety. The commitment to food safety by California farmers, like those who are members of the LGMA, has squarely placed California in the position –referred to by the Secretary as– “a reliable, safe, high-quality provider to the global food chain.”

We couldn’t agree more.

The event was very well organized, with speakers focusing on the upbeat possibilities for agriculture in California and, specifically, in Santa Barbara County. Some of the key takeaways were:

  1. The agricultural community should work closely with other community segments – government, education, business – to maximize its growth potential in the region.
  2. Bringing more young people into agriculture is essential, and both Allen Hancock College and Cal Poly/San Luis Obispo have innovative programs designed to attract young scholars to the business.
  3. Success also can be driven by understanding and capitalizing on the local environment and landscapes, as highlighted in remarks by Santa Barbara County Ag Commissioner Cathy Fisher and CUSDA Rural Development State Director Glenda Humiston.

Overall, it was great way to recognize the possibilities available through innovation and collaboration.

For me, though, the highlight of the day came at the end of the meeting, when six long-time employees of different farming operations were recognized for their years of service. It is perhaps too easy to overlook the contributions of workers to the farming process, and to see the local community take the time to recognize a few of their dedicated employees was very moving. And it was great to see Congresswoman Lois Capps, Assemblyman Katcho Achajidian and Joyce Howerton on behalf of State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson present to take part in these recognitions.

So, allow me to add my applause for the following six individuals who were recognized for their long and successful dedication to farming in Santa Barbara County:

  •  Jorge Herrera, who has worked for Plantel Nurseries for 20 years
  • Grace Montez, who has worked for Teixeira Farms for 43 years
  • Vince Deparini, who has worked for Baroda Farms for 37 years
  • Alfonso Reyes, who has worked for Betteravia Farms for 31 years
  • Rigoberto Martinez-Villalobos, who has worked for Campbell Ranches for 25 years
  • Salvador Pienado, who has worked for OSR Enterprises for 50 (fifty!!) years


The event was very well organized and valuable to those in attendance, and I want to congratulate Lisa Bodrogi, Vicki Conner with EconAlliance and the whole team of organizers for putting it on and thank them for letting me be part of it.

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