I am proud to introduce myself as the new president of Sonoma County Farm Bureau. Fifteen years ago my friend and neighbor John Bucher got me involved with the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. I joined the board and never expected that I would eventually be elected to the presidency. I have seen a lot of changes in our County and at the Farm Bureau over the years, but I believe the best years are still ahead of us. We will have our hands full but Farm Bureau has a great staff led by Tim Tesconi, an engaged board of directors, and a community that supports us and understands the many benefits of agriculture here in Sonoma County.
First, let me thank Tito Sasaki for his last two years serving as our president. He had his hands full and handled the job very well. Luckily for all of us, Tito will continue to be on the board and involved, especially, with pending local groundwater regulations. Thank you Tito, I will be depending on you for the wisdom you have gained over last two years.
When I think back to the Farm Bureau organization I joined 15 years ago, I think of the crab feed we hosted at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. The Crab Feed, which gets bigger and better every year, moved to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in 2005. This year we were recognized by Press Democrat readers as Sonoma County’s Best Crab Feed.
I think of the great but small staff Farm Bureau had when I joined the board 15 years ago and how our organization’s staff, programs and outreach have expanded to what they are today. Like our crops, Farm Bureau has grown stronger and is doing more to represent its members. From the more than $80,000 in agriculture scholarships we give out annually to the different safety and educational workshops we offer throughout the year, the organization looks totally different than the one I joined. Farm Bureau’s continued growth and influence is amazing to me.
Meanwhile, we continue to work on important issues politically around the county. Last year we had a lot on our plate with the county and state elections and long-running issues like the Riparian Corridor Ordinance. But next year will be even busier. We will continue to work on the pending groundwater management plans for Sonoma County. Additionally, the county will be drafting a new well ordinance and, of course, Russian River Watershed landowners will need to comply with new frost water regulations. We can’t forget about agricultural discharge waivers being required from both Regional Water Boards – all amid a sea of other regulatory challenges. For all of this, Farm Bureau has been and will be at the table to fight for our members so they can continue to farm in the future.
As I write this column I think of all that we will be working on in 2015 and watch the rain fall on the land, promising a fresh, new year. The future is bright for agriculture in Sonoma County, even with all the work and challenges ahead. We have always managed and persevered. It’s what farmers do and it’s what Farm Bureau will continue to do.
Everyone at Sonoma County Farm Bureau wishes you a happy and prosperous 2015. I look forward to the year ahead and working with all of you to keep agriculture strong and viable.