By Romeo Agbalog, Executive Director, Kern County Farm Bureau
Every year people all over the country gather on the third Thursday in November to celebrate Thanksgiving. This year will be no different as we take a moment to reflect on the many gifts and blessings we have received throughout the year. This year has been a particularly challenging one as we are confronted with drought, labor scarcity, trade issues, a hostile regulatory and business climate, and of course the pandemic. While daunting, these things provide us even more reasons to count our blessings.
I for one have much to be thankful for. I am thankful for my family and friends who love and support me, for my health that has allowed me to fully appreciate, experience, and witness God’s grace and majesty in things and in others. I am thankful for my job and for the opportunity to serve my community. And I am thankful for the agriculture industry for producing the commodities necessary to sustain the world and for the many job opportunities, like mine, that the industry creates.
In fact, just a few weeks ago we celebrated the latter point at the Kern County Farm Bureau’s 10th Annual Bounty of Kern County event. At the event, farmers, and ranchers from throughout Kern County and beyond came together to not only celebrate the bounty of harvest, but to also give thanks and show support for the agriculture industry. There we heard from California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross who recognized the contributions of Kern County agriculture in her remarks, and California Farm Bureau State President Jamie Johansson expressed his appreciation for local farmers and ranchers and the work that they do amidst the tough times we are in as an industry.
We also gave thanks to outgoing President John C. Moore, III for his two years of service as President, and to Patty Poire for stepping up to succeed John and serve as the newly elected President of our local Farm Bureau organization. We also took a moment to thank Ben Laverty, III for his extraordinary contributions to the Kern County Farm Bureau who decided to step down from our Board after 41 years of continued service on the Board of Directors. To put things in perspective, Ben has served on the board longer than John C. Moore, III has been alive. Ben’s service is a testament to the great leadership that the Kern County Farm Bureau has been blessed to have over the years and still has.
And speaking about leadership, I would be remiss if I did not mention Lucas Espericueta. In addition to serving as Treasurer of the Kern County Farm Bureau, he is also a gubernatorial appointee to the Kern County Fair Board. If you enjoyed this year’s Kern County Fair, back this year after a COVID-19 induced hiatus, we owe a debt of gratitude to Lucas for sparking the effort to restore this year’s fair. See, Lucas never wavered, and quietly, yet effectively convinced the Fair Board to reverse its previous decision to cancel the fair and hold an in-person event instead, which saw an increase in attendance of at least 20 percent from the last in-person fair. So, thank you, Lucas. I am sure scores of 4H, FFA, and other community members who participated in or attended this year’s festivities appreciate your leadership just as much as I do.
Lastly, I am thankful for the opportunity to write this piece as it allowed me to reflect that even in these discouraging of times, we have much to be thankful for. We are blessed to live in one of the most productive regions in the country, we are blessed to have an industry and all who work in it for their contributions to our local economy and our food supply locally, nationally, and abroad. And thank you to the persons who recognize this and appreciate it as well. Now, if only all in government could do the same. For that, I would be thankful for too.