in the KNOW

March 9, 2012


“It’s a New Day” for California Farmer-owned Businesses and Cooperatives

Agricultural Council of California (Ag Council) concluded a successful joint meeting with CoBank earlier this week. More than 160 cooperative leaders and members met during Ag Council’s 93rd Annual Meeting in La Jolla to gain perspective about issues impacting agriculture in California and beyond.

This year’s meeting kicked off on March 5 with Ag Council’s Annual Dinner, which featured Assemblyman Henry T. Perea. Perea represents the 31st district and emphasized how important the success of agriculture is to his own constituents and the future of job growth in California.

As a leader among moderate Democrats, Perea recognizes the competitive disadvantage that California businesses have when competing in a world market. “Cap and trade is one example of an issue that will have severe impacts not only on agriculture, but will also hurt my constituents and their ability to find jobs. I am concerned about the extreme positions we see in both parties, as it makes it difficult to bridge the gaps necessary to bring about real change in California,” he said.

Ag Council held its annual Delegate Body Meeting on March 6 where Chairman Jon Marthedal, a third generation farmer from Fresno and also chairman of Sun-Maid Growers of California told Ag Council members, “Agriculture has always been a cornerstone of the California economy and is one of the few bright spots we see today. Our membership represents thousands of farmers, but the political and regulatory environment in which we operate continually influences our day-to-day operations. Ag Council has reasserted itself as a valuable partner to help us tell our story and ensure our ability to continue to raise food for the world. We have undergone a lot of changes at Ag Council in the last 18 months, including restructuring and changes in administrative leadership, but all of this work has helped us refocus and refine our vision for the future.”

As part of his address, Marthedal highlighted Ag Council’s new mission statement which reads:

“To preserve and protect California’s farmer-owned businesses. We pledge to:

  • Work tirelessly to advocate on behalf of our members
  • Take a bipartisan and proactive approach
  • Be a builder of bridges
  • Minimize unnecessary regulations that affect agriculture
  • Create growth opportunities for our members”
  • To enhance the mission statement, the organization also adopted a corporate credo, which reads:


“We believe:

  • As California’s number one industry, the health of agriculture is imperative to the success of the state;
  • Farmer-owned businesses should be free to earn their livelihoods without excessive regulatory barriers;
  • And, building bridges is the foundation of our success.”


Ag Council President Emily Rooney provided an update to members during her annual address at the Delegate Body Meeting that summarized Ag Council’s efforts to build bridges with California lawmakers and regulatory agencies. “We have continued to aggressively reach out to elected officials about a host of issues impacting California’s number one industry. Climate change regulation and further budget reductions to the California Department of Food and Agriculture were two priority issues for Ag Council in 2011, but our staff also focused on a multitude of other topics that have been of concern to our membership and their ability to do business in California,” said Rooney.

Rooney also highlighted Ag Council’s other accomplishments from the past year, including its work in creating a new image for the organization that highlights its 90-plus year history, but also reflects its renewed focus on dealing with the newest challenges facing California’s farmer-owned businesses. Rooney also announced to the membership the release of Ag Council’s 2011 Impact Report.

The general session, which was moderated by Jackson Gualco of The Gualco Group, included presentations from Ken Maddox, director of legislative affairs for State Board of Equalization Member Michelle Steel; Rafael Pastor, chairman of the board and CEO of Vistage International; and Charlie Arnot, CEO for the Center for Food Integrity. Earlier in the week, a Golf Tournament and PAC Fundraiser was held at the picturesque Torrey Pines Golf Course. Nearly 70 players were in attendance to enjoy a beautiful morning of golf in La Jolla where funds were raised for Ag Council’s PAC.

Ag Council’s portion of the meeting concluded with a luncheon that honored Richard L. Cotta, retired president and CEO of California Dairies, Inc. as the recipient of the 2012 Cooperative Leader Award.

CoBank’s Pacific West Customer Meeting concluded the joint meeting with Ag Council and featured speakers Marci Rossell, Ph.D., and former chief economist for CNBC; Bill Walton, NBA Hall of Fame basketball player; Charles Fineman, award-winning journalist and author; and Doug Lipp, former head of training for Disney Corporate Headquarters.

Thank you to our 93rd Annual Meeting Sponsors

Special thanks to our meeting partner, CoBank

Nationwide Sunkist Growers/Fruit Growers Supply Company

Blue Diamond Growers
Land O’Lakes
Sunsweet Growers

Allied Grape Growers
Del Monte Foods
Mellano & Company
Moss Adams LLP
Pacific Coast Producers
Sun-Maid Growers of California

Butte County Rice Growers Association
The Gualco Group
Valley Fig Growers

Thank you to our Golf Tournament Sponsors 

Blue Diamond Growers California
Canning Peach Association

Land O’Lakes
Pacific Coast Producers
Raisin Bargaining Association

Bank of the West
Butte County Rice Growers Association
Cal/West Seeds
Central California Almond Growers Association
Cryovac, a Division of Sealed Air
DFA of California
Eadie and Payne, LLP
Edgewood Partners Insurance Center (EPIC)
Farm Credit Council Services
Farm Credit Leasing
Griswold, LaSalle, Cobb, Dowd & Gin, LLP
Jim Hicks & Company
Moss Adams LLP
Morrison & Company
Valley Fig Growers

Breakfast Sponsors
CoBank and California Farm Credit Associations