The EconAlliance “Growing Possibilities” Ag Forum held Friday, February 5, 2016 at the Santa Maria Fairpark, was a “Forum to Celebrate and Support Regional Agriculture”. Co-sponsored by Allan Hancock College, PG&E, Farm Credit West, Aera Energy and CoastHills Credit Union, the event team was led by co-chairs George Adam, Innovative Produce (also primary event emcee); Steve Jordan, Lompoc Farming (formerly of Baroda Farms); and Andy Rice, OSR Enterprises. Event planning support was also graciously provided by the Grower Shipper Association of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties and the Farm Bureau of Santa Barbara County.
Keynote speaker at the Ag Forum was Deputy Secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture Jenny Lester Moffitt, with California State Water Resources Control Board Member Steven Moore, and Santa Barbara County Ag Commissioner Cathy Fisher also featured.
The “Innovative Practices” panel was moderated by Claire Wineman, President, Grower Shipper Association. Panelists included:
A.J. Cisney, Rancho Guadalupe Manager
Gerald Holmes, Director of the Strawberry Center at Cal Poly, SLO
Ian Justus, Sr. Manager of Controlled Environment Production, Driscoll’s
Jonas White, President, White Seed Company
The “Ag Sector Vitality” panel featured ag sector opportunities and challenges and was moderated by Brenda Farias, County Executive Director, USDA. Panelists included:
Kari Campbell-Bohard, Campbell Ranches
Sandy A. Leyva, HRPA, Director of Human Resources, Bonipak
Brook Williams, Owner & Manager, Duvarita and Slide Hill Vineyards
Andy Rice, Manager, OSR Enterprises
Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Victor Tognazzini (right), Gold Coast Packing, with event co-chair George Adam, EconAlliance president Mike Kirkwood, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and Award Emcee Kevin Merrill. Louis Lucas of Lucas & Lewellen is shown accepting his award.
Lorena Chavez of L&G Farming, Inc. and DL Farm Management was awardee for “Extraordinary Achievement” as first agriculturalist from Northern Santa Barbara County to serve on the California Strawberry Commission, as well as the first woman and first Latina on the Commission.
“Outstanding Employee” awardees included Amparo Gonzalez of Bien Nacido Vineyards and Juan “Tigre” Soto of Gold Coast Packing.
EconAlliance recognizes the importance of continuous innovation in economic vitality, so three individuals were honored for their “innovative practices” in the agriculture sector. Steve Jordan, Lompoc Farming and Baroda Farms, was honored for his internationally recognized hybridization expertise and patents for artichokes. At his left is Mark Adam, La Brea Ranch, recognized for his solar operated electric pump system for hillside water transport. The Miller Family, represented by company President/CEO Stephen Miller, was recognized for a wealth of innovations distinguishing Bien Nacido as one of California’s top five vineyards, according to the Wall Street Journal, with Vineyard and Winery Management including the Miller Family on its “Top 20 Most Admired List”.
The Forum also included a celebration of key contributors to Northern Santa Barbara County Agriculture, including several crop production families with 75 years or more in the region. These families were recognized as “Diamond (row crop) Families, receiving their Ag Forum plaques from either Santa Barbara County 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam or 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, with EconAlliance President Mike Kirkwood, Ag Initiative Co-Lead George Adam and Award Emcee Kevin Merrill congratulating.
Event Page: Click here to View Past Event Flyer