Editors: The following opinion piece was developed by prominent agriculture leaders throughout the Central Valley in an effort to highlight the importance of agriculture education and the immediate need for agriculture leadership in the Valley.

Development of the next generation of agricultural leaders is as important to California agriculture as the crops we grow that feed and clothe the nation and world.

Today, like never before, the viability and relevancy of our industry are challenged by many issues including ever-expanding regulations and a growing urban population that mostly does not understand what we do and why we do it even though they enjoy what we have done. Understanding our dilemma and seeking out pathways that reverse course is essential before more damage is done.

Therein lies our focus on the next generation. They must be better than we have ever been before.

Certainly, their proficiency in production, processing and marketing practices must rise to the next level as must their sophistication in bridging between rural and urban mindsets; developing relationships and communication skills that facilitate dispute resolution; and embracing leadership traits of vision, compassion, involvement, and critical thinking.

Knowledge is power and once empowered in this manner; our future will become more secure. That is why we are so pleased that West Hills College Lemoore has been awarded state funding to launch a valley-wide Ag leadership initiative to foster the next generation of Ag leaders. The course is scheduled to be launched on January 23, 2019, and is the initial offering of a broader Central Valley Community College Agricultural Leadership program initiative. The program will be available to all community college students in the region. Students will produce reports on significant issues affecting agriculture and meet weekly with agriculture leaders in a classroom setting and culminate with a visit to Sacramento where the students will interact with legislators, gubernatorial appointees, consultants, and others.

We greatly appreciate the state funding in advancing this much-needed program which will benefit students and agriculture for decades to come.

Thankfully yours,


George H. Soares, Partner                                                                

Kahn, Soares and Conway, LLP                                                       

Joel Nelsen, President                                                                       

California Citrus Mutual                                                                    

George Radanovich, President

California Fresh Fruit Association                                                                                                                                                        

Ruthann Anderson, President/CEO                                                 

California Association of Pest Control Advisers                                                                                                                                         

Dusty Ference, Executive Director

Kings County Farm Bureau                                                                                                                                                                           

Darrin Monteiro, Director

Member and Government Relations                                              

California Dairies Inc.                                                                          

Ryan Jacobsen, Executive Director                                                 

Fresno County Farm Bureau                                                             

Todd Sanders, Executive Director                                                   

California Apple Commission                                                           

California Blueberry Commission

Olive Growers Council of California                                                

Richard Matoian, Executive Director

American Pistachio Growers

Roger Isom, President/CEO

Cal. Cotton Ginners and Growers Association

Western Agricultural Processors Associations

Karen Musson, CEO

Gar & Ester Tootelian Charitable Foundation

Greg Musson, President

Gar Tootelian, Inc.

Manuel Cunha, President

Nisei Farmers League

Tricia Stever Blattler, Executive Director

Tulare County Farm Bureau

Laura Brown, Director, State Legislative

California Women for Agriculture

Will Scott, President

African American Famers of California

Christina Beckstead, Executive Director

Madera County Farm Bureau