Written By: Steve Dutton, President
Published: August 1, 2018

On Thursday, July 12 Farm Bureau hosted over 900 attendees for the 10th Annual Love of the Land celebration at the Jackson Family’s Richard’s Grove. I would like to personally thank Barbara Banke, Chris, Katie and Julia Jackson; the entire Jackson family and staff for allowing the Sonoma County Farm Bureau to use their special place for Love of the Land again this year. There is not a more perfect venue in all of Sonoma County for this celebration. It was an oversight on my part that I did not publicly thank the Jackson’s during the event. I am hopeful that we can continue our partnership in the future.


In my opinion, the evening could not have been better. We celebrated three deserving recipients with prestigious Farm Bureau awards. Al Gerhardt was posthumously inducted into the Farm Bureau Hall of Fame, Doug McIlroy was honored with Farm Bureau’s Luther Burbank Conservation Award and the DeBernardi Family was unanimously selected as the 2018 Farm Family of the Year. Love of the Land attendees were respectful and listened to all that was said and presented, which I am sure made all the award recipients feel honored. Thank you for that!


Love of the Land was planned and executed by an almost entirely new staff. Except for Anita Hawkins, none of the staff were here for last year’s event. This is the second event since December headed by our new Executive Director Tawny Tesconi. Under Tawny’s leadership, we have filled all of the staff vacancies, created and filled new staff positions and put Farm Bureau on a positive trajectory. The new energy in the Farm Bureau office and in the community is palpable. I am happy and excited to be a pert of this and want to thank Tawny for her love of agriculture and can-do attitude.


The new energy and excitement present has the Executive Committee and myself thinking about the future of Farm Bureau. We, the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, staff and agricultural members agree that Farm Bureau needs to be the leader in Sonoma County on all agricultural issues. Farm Bureau must be in the meetings, at the table, active participants in negotiations, and representing agriculture among diverse stakeholder meetings on all issues that could affect agriculture.


Farm Bureau needs to be willing and able to take a stand on issues that will affect our ability to farm and make a profit. We were instrumental and lead the charge to stop the county-wide low-income housing assessments. It was only after Farm Bureau took a position that other groups joined in. Brian Ling, Executive Director of the Sonoma County Alliance, which is a pro-business organization said he recognizes Farm Bureau’s influence and leadership.
“Sonoma County Alliance followed Farm Bureau’s strong and early position against the county wide housing bond,” Ling said. “We thank Sonoma County Farm Bureau for their continued leadership in these important policy decisions that impact agriculture and business in Sonoma County.”


It is imperative that we think about agriculture’s future in Sonoma County beyond tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, and five years from now. Therefore, the executive committee has decided to have a strategic planning session this fall. We plan on spending a day strategizing about Sonoma County agriculture’s future so that we can continue to preserve, protect, and promote agriculture and strengthen our ability to speak with one ag voice.

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