By Craig W. Anderson

Three San Joaquin Farm Bureau members earned CFBF awards recognizing achievement and excellence among Young Farmers and Ranchers: Tyler and Amy Blagg and Joe Ferrari were the honorees.

The awards were presented during the 99th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Garden Grove.

Joe Ferrari

Joe Ferrari farms walnuts and cherries in his family’s business headquartered in Linden and he received the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award in recognition of accomplishments in production agriculture and leadership activity.

Tyler and Amy Blagg

Tyler and Amy Blagg of Lodi received the Excellence in Agriculture Award for an individual or couple who doesn’t earn a majority of income from an owned production agriculture operation but contributes through involvement in agriculture, leadership activities and Farm Bureau. 

All three are San Joaquin Farm Bureau board members.

SJFB YF&R excels

“Our YF&R has been recognized every year,” said SJFB Executive Director Bruce Blodgett. “It’s a special organization and all members who’ve won these awards are very accomplished and deserved this recognition.”

In addition to demonstrating the strength of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers & Ranchers, these awards also afford the recipients the opportunity to participate at the American Farm Bureau Annual Meeting in Nashville with the hope that the “American Farm Bureau recognizes them. It’s a chance to bring home another award,” Blodgett said.

Four generations of Ferrari

Ferrari, a fourth generation Linden farmer, partners with his father and brother in farming, operating a walnut huller and dryer and doing custom farming. Ferrari received two degrees at the University of Santa Clara – a bachelor’s in commerce and accounting and a bachelor’s in Italian Studies – and he oversees the farm’s pest control and crop nutrition programs and its compliance with government regulations.

“Receiving this award is quite an honor,” Ferrari said. “It’s nice to be recognized and I’m happy some of SJFB’s message and our issues are getting out. This also allows me to go to the national meet and compete.”

Important story

Being able to tell his story at the national level is important, he said, because, even in the American Farm Bureau, “I don’t think people at the national level understand what I do and how walnuts in particular are grown and marketed.”

He hopes to bring the labor situation on the West Coast to the forefront and “get our message out. The rest of the country seems to think we’re part of the craziness that is the so-called Left Coast.”

Food safety focus

Ferrari’s primary interest is in food-safety policies and the impact of regulations under the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. “I want to make sure we farmers don’t get run over and do what I can to counter adverse policy effects.”

Always had the farm

“We’ve always had the farm, but my dad said ‘Go do something else and then decide if you want to come back to the farm,’” said Ferrari. “I love the creative spirit and problem solving that farmers have. Farming is what I wanted to do.”

He said it’s rewarding to feel the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day and that his education helps him to “research and be able to find the information I needed.”

Educating public vital

A vital aspect of Farm Bureau and YF&R is, Ferrari said, “To educate the public which has little or no understanding of how farms and farmers work.”

Busy Blaggs

Amy Blagg is the executive director of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association; Tyler Blagg is an agricultural real estate agent with Petersen & Co. focusing on dairies, vineyards and bare land. He is the past chair of the California Young Farmers & Ranchers State Committee.

The couple also operates a small farm where they grow winegrapes, winter forage and raise dairy heifers.

“We competed and won this award and that’s both humbling and an honor,” Amy said. “It’s exciting knowing we’ll be competing at the national level with 50 others.”

She and Tyler made their presentation to a panel of judges on issues and what YF&R were doing about them. “It was very rewarding to receive this award as a couple, as most awards are for individuals,” she said.

Build up farm for sons

“Tyler and I both have ag-related jobs and our small farming operation,” Amy said. “We want to build it up for our three sons so if they want to farm they’ll be able to do so. For young people, it’s hard to start out as a farmer without a head start.”

Teamwork key

“The teamwork of Tyler and myself reflects how we contribute to each other, building our relationship,” Amy said. “We have only a couple years before we age out of YF&R but we want to be active in Farm Bureau, on the board, as committee chairs, even when YF&R’s over because SJFB encourages and embraces youth in every way.”

In Farm Bureau activities and in business in general, “communication is the key,” Tyler Blagg said. “Understanding our professional lives and prioritizing organizations we can participate in so we can use the huge passion for agriculture that we both have. Every additional voice you have helps have a positive impact on agriculture.”

SJC’s rich ag history

He agrees with Amy that San Joaquin County’s rich ag history encourages YF&R to keep young leaders involved and to bring youth in to replenish its leaders.

Tyler grew up on a Grass Valley cattle ranch and attended Fresno State where he got his degree in dairy science and met his future wife. 

“I worked for dairy companies but then wanted to be more independent,” he said. “So, I went into Real Estate and it’s gone well.”

Looking to just farm in future

He added, “Amy and I have our day jobs and our farming. We enjoy both but would like to eventually just farm and grow that for our boys.”

As winners of their respective awards, Ferrari and the Blaggs each earned a $4,000 cash prize sponsored by Farm Credit, Rabobank and Southern California Edison. Ferrari also earned 250 hours’ use of a Kubota tractor.

The winners will represent California in national competitions held at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention in Nashville, Tenn.