Agricultural Council of California’s Annual Meeting, which was held March 4 and 5 in Monterey, marked a historic event this year as the organization celebrated 100 years of working on behalf of farmers and farmer-owned businesses. The event was held in conjunction with CoBank’s Pacific West Customer meeting.
“Reaching 100 years as an organization is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Carl Hoff, Ag Council chairman and president and CEO of Butte County Rice Growers, during his address. “Our founders had vision and foresight, and we are proud to have continued to fulfill their mission to provide our members a valuable service as they engage in the noble effort of feeding the world.”
Hoff took a retrospective look back at California’s agricultural industry in 1919 and compared it with the present environment. Vast changes in technology, farming methods and California’s population mean that many of the issues that Ag Council addresses on behalf of its members are different than they were in 1919, but the mission to ensure a better business environment for its members has not altered. During his address, Hoff also recognized the four cooperatives who have been members the entire 100 years – Blue Diamond, Sunkist, Sun-Maid and Sunsweet.
“Our steadfast commitment is to focus on the issues and ensure a sustainable future for our industry,” he added. “Agriculture has changed, our members’ businesses have changed, but we have made the hard choices and thrived through the years.”
In her annual address, Emily Rooney, president of Ag Council, also underscored the changes that have occurred since the founding of Ag Council, but also quoted the organization’s original charter mission, which has served as a roadmap for the last 100 years: An organization shall “be formed for the purpose of drafting beneficial legislation and guarding against vicious or dangerous laws which might affect agricultural interests.”
“While sometimes many of us feel like we are under attack in California, I believe it is not our principles, but our practices, that are under scrutiny. And, innovation can help us address those concerns,” she said. “As challenging as that can be, Ag Council has been successful in finding opportunities to address these issues while creating the change that optimizes our future.”
Rooney discussed Ag Council’s efforts in several policy areas, and a more detailed accounting of the organization’s advocacy work can be found in the Centennial Impact Report, which was released during the annual meeting. A full copy can be accessed at www.agcouncil.org.
This year’s Annual Meeting featured a Centennial Celebration on the evening of March 4. Gonzales FFA provided a presentation of the colors, and students Amy Aceves and Cynthia Ruiz spoke about their experiences with FFA and thanked Ag Council and its members for their support. The evening also included a presentation of a U.S. Senate Resolution by Shelly Abajian, director of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Central California Office as well as the release of a video chronicling the history of Ag Council. Prior Ag Council Presidents Lee Ruth and Don Gordon were in attendance to help celebrate this historic event.
The General Session held the following day, and moderated by Jackson Gualco of The Gualco Group, featured Dr. Daniel Mountjoy, of Sustainable Conservation who spoke about the role of groundwater in California agriculture and his work to promote a sustainable future via various innovative methods; Dr. Joseph Castro, president of California State University, Fresno; and, Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
The 100th Annual Meeting concluded with a luncheon that honored California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross as the recipient of the prestigious 2019 California Cultivator Award. As a Nebraska native and former staff person of Ag Council, Ross offered a heartfelt acceptance of the award.
“Working at Ag Council was an important chapter in my career. The members and leadership opened my eyes to the miracle of California agriculture and that has become the best part of my job to reflect on how lucky we are to be involved in this industry.”
For more information about Ag Council's Annual Meeting, visit www.agcouncil.org.
Founded in 1919, Agricultural Council of California is a member-supported organization advocating for more than 15,000 farmers across California, ranging from farmer-owned businesses to the world’s best-known brands. Ag Council serves as the farmers’ voice in California government. Ag Council works to keep its members productive and competitive, so that agriculture can remain California’s number-one industry.