By Jenny Holtermann, President, Kern County Farm Bureau
I am proud to be your newly elected President of Kern County Farm Bureau. It is an honor for me to represent fellow farmers, ranchers, and agriculture businesses in our county. As a 4th generation farmer, I understand the issues and struggles we face head-on. My husband and I farm almonds alongside his family in Wasco and Shafter. We are impacted personally by the decreasing market prices, increasing input costs, and the lack of reliable water supply. Our family perseveres every day despite our state and government throwing every curveball at us. At times, it seems like they want us to fail, they want us to sell — to give up.
I know all too well what happens when we don’t receive the water we are contracted to receive. When theft occurs on our property, we are left to clean up the damage. When that final crop check comes, it doesn’t cover our bills for the year. When Mother Nature has a mind of her own and throws you a hurricane at the beginning of harvest.
Farmers are eternal optimists, though. I always say optimists to a fault sometimes. We always see a greener pasture, a higher market price on the horizon, or a way to keep ourselves positive. It is our optimism that gives us the fight to keep going. However, over the last several years, I have watched neighboring farmers sell out, rip out fields due to lack of water, and overwhelm themselves with mental health issues.
Growing up, I watched my father struggle with the same issues we deal with today: labor, regulations, consumer perception, and irrigation demands. My great-grandfather settled in Chico in the early 1900s to farm. He found the same Mediterranean climate he was used to in Italy, with the fertile soil of California, to make home and establish our family roots. Those farming roots continued to grow with every generation from the passion and love for land.
Agriculture is a passion that has been passed down through our family heritage and something my children are already building as we live and work on our family farm in Shafter. Passion for agriculture keeps us all moving forward. It is when we lose our passion that the will for optimism fades as well. I strive to reconnect our family farmers with the passion they need to stay farming. I am excited and committed to building the Kern County agriculture community back up to the highs I know we all remember. Kern County Farm Bureau is here to help us rebuild. We can connect you to the resources you require to thrive. We can equip you with the tools you need to keep going. We can provide connections and contacts to the decision-makers. I look forward to working with you all to help our Kern County agriculture industry with these next steps.
I am excited to hold a strategic planning session for our Board of Directors for my first meeting as President. We will be working on new ways to bring you all the tools you need, how we can better equip our boots on the ground, and ways to enrich our relationships with the political decision-makers. Together, our organization can grow to be better, stronger, and tougher agriculturists.