When tracing the origin of her love for agriculture, Andrea Krout recalls childhood memories of bottle-feeding calves early in the morning with her mom and later getting involved in 4-H and FFA.
Her parents were not full-time farmers, but they started a small replacement-heifer program when Krout was growing up. Helping them raise those animals, she said, taught her animal husbandry, responsibility and “how to take care of not only ourselves but these creatures that depended on us.”
“Those are life lessons that really paved the way for me to get involved in agriculture,” Krout said. “There’s a certain heritage and integrity that goes along with working on the land. I knew that at some point in my life, I’d want to get back to that and make sure that we keep agriculture alive.”
Krout continues to work with her parents on their ranch in Two Rock, raising registered quarter horses and replacement heifers for beef and dairy cattle. But she said it is at her day job as district director for Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt where she feels she can be most effective in shaping local policies that affect farmers and ranchers.
“It’s a way that I can be involved and really learn about the policies, the challenges that our farmers and ranchers are up against, so that I can hopefully be a catalyst for change by getting more people that are my age involved,” she said.
Her interest in preserving open space and making sure that young and new farmers have agricultural opportunities first drove her to get into politics, she said. Before working for Rabbitt, Krout worked for an organization that linked retiring farmers with land to lease to beginning farmers who needed land to farm. She also helped farmers with succession planning.
“That really spurred my interest to get involved in policy at the local level,” she said.
In working for the county supervisor, Krout said she’s able to update farmers on issues coming before the board of supervisors. Her job also keeps her in tune with policies that are being discussed at the state and federal levels, such as water regulation.
What’s important, she said, is getting farmers and others informed about the issues so that they can be involved in the process and be part of the conversation.
Krout won the California Young Farmers and Ranchers Open Discussion Meet in 2015. Being involved in YF&R has also allowed her to continue her mission of preserving “green belts” and the economic viability of agriculture in local communities, she said.
“There’s such a focus on the importance of agriculture, not only to our food system but to our rural heritage,” Krout said of the YF&R program.
(Ching Lee is an assistant editor of Ag Alert. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)