By Craig W. Anderson

Jim and Joan Lopes received the Distinguished Service Award from the California Farm Bureau Federation for their years of dedicated service to agriculture and Farm Bureau. The award was given during the 99th CFBF annual meeting in Garden Grove.

“Receiving this award is quite an honor and a surprise,” said Joan. “Farm Bureau is wonderful to work with and we’ve learned a lot about various issues, including water especially.”

“We’re honored by this award,” said Jim, who began his service on the Alameda County Farm Bureau board in 1956 and served on a variety of committees for years; he’s still a member of the Alameda Farm Bureau Water Committee. 

“We need water storage. And I guess our rain dances aren’t working yet,” he said with a smile.

The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau volunteers from California.

SJFB appreciates Lopes couple

“Jim and Joan are members of the Alameda Farm Bureau and they were delegates to the annual convention for many years,” said San Joaquin Farm Bureau Executive Director Bruce Blodgett. “They’re neighbors, good people and have always been dedicated to ag issues in San Joaquin and Alameda counties.” They’ve been particularly active on water issues and Jim has served on the boards of the Blewett Mutual Water Co. and the El Solyo Water District.

Wenger’s praise

“Anyone who’s attended a CFBF Water Advisory Committee meeting in recent years would recognize Jim and Joan for the active participation in those meetings and for Jim’s insightful comments about agricultural water use,” said outgoing CFBF President Paul Wenger. “Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations in San Joaquin, Alameda and Stanislaus counties have benefitted from their generous donations of time and wisdom.”

The couple manages 800 acres of walnuts in the Vernalis area and, added Blodgett, “It’s been a pleasure to work with Jim and Joan over the years.”

Service is the Lopes watchword

Both Jim and Joan have served on the Alameda County Farm Bureau board of directors for decades, Jim since 1956 and Joan since 1995. Joan also serves as the group’s treasurer.

In addition to Farm Bureau, Jim has served on the Alameda County Agricultural Advisory Committee, the Diamond Walnut Growers District Advisory Committee, as a board member and president of the Westside Hulling Association and with several community organizations.

Joan has been an active volunteer in organizations including with the Boy Scouts of America, and each has volunteered with Clear Creek Service, a Fremont-based nonprofit serving adults with developmental disabilities.

Farming’s enjoyable despite regulations

“I enjoy farming despite all the regulations we have to deal with,” Jim said. “We enjoy the seasons, each different, with a variety of farming activities and the lifestyle is wonderful.”

FB resources…Alameda ag fading

“Farm Bureau has a great many resources available to members,” said Joan. “And there is a great camaraderie with Farm Bureau because the same values are shared by members and the organization.”

She said with a note of sadness, “There are few farmers in Alameda County now and we manage grazing land there, acreage that hasn’t been taken out by development.”