San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation

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What a difference a few years make

BY ANDREW WATKINS, SJFB PRESIDENT

When I became the second vice president at the 97th Annual Meeting in 2011, I never could have predicted the changes that occurred.

Under Gov. Jerry Brown, agricultural has taken one hit after another. But we are not knocked out. While taking the defeats, we have also celebrated some victories.

We had a short-lived victory with the defeat of AB 2757; the ag overtime bill. However, due to dirty politics, ag overtime was resurrected as AB 1066. Despite the best efforts of SJFB and CFBF, it ultimately passed. Also, while the DPR regulations about spraying around schools have not been finalized yet, the most recent version removed the application specific notice requirement.

On the federal level, the EPA is now reexamining the science behind the regulations that reduce the ability to apply chlorypyrifos (Lorsban). Also under Trump administration, Waters of the (draconian) United States (WOTUS) rule is not moving forward.

Not only has the political climate changed, but so has the San Joaquin Farm Bureau office. When I became an officer, our staff members were Katie Patterson, Kory Ley and Natalie Collins along with Bruce Blodgett and Kathy Baldauf. Now at the end of my six years the first three have moved on to great new opportunities while Bruce and Kathy have been joined by Julianne Phillips, Rachael Fleming and Colleen Sunbury. Despite the changes, one thing that remains the same is the hard work and dedication from our staff members. Each one excels in their positions and are vital part of Farm Bureau.

I'd also like to thank each board member. There is a running joke in Farm Bureau that it's just one meeting a month. But, since most of our board members serve on multiple committees, one meeting a month sometimes turns into one meeting a week or even more! All our board members are very busy either with their operations, other organizations and families, so for each one of you to take time from your schedule and volunteer to serve as a Farm Bureau board member shows your dedication to the San Joaquin agricultural community.

Speaking of the board, I think the median age of our board has decreased by 30 years over my years as an officer. Our board now has about 11 members who are also on the San Joaquin County Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. It is great to see these young people stepping up and taking leadership roles in our industry. I know agricultural future is in great hands with this younger generation.

Lastly, I'd like to thank my fellow officers; Jim Ferrari and David Strecker for all their support and counsel over these last two years. I look forward to seeing how our organization grows under their very capable leadership.