(Photo courtesy of Jenny Holtermann/KCFB) 

By Jenny Holtermann, President, Kern County Farm Bureau 


Oxford Dictionary defines an advocate as a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy. I would extend that definition to anyone who actively believes in the future of agriculture. 

I would be willing to bet that most of our Farm Bureau members who are directly involved in agriculture are advocates. Whether you have a conversation with your neighbor about what you do for a living, or the grocery store clerk about why you prefer conventional or organic produce, or even if you share casually with fellow little league parents by including local nuts, mandarins, or carrots in snack bags. I am sure every one of us has had a conversation at least once a month or more about the benefits of agriculture in our community. 

Last month, the California Farm Bureau hosted its annual Capital Ag Conference during National Agriculture Week. Your Kern County Farm Bureau officers and staff traveled to Sacramento to better advocate for our farmers and our needs here locally. We participated in the Issue Advisory Committee where I represented Kern County on the Nut Committee. We received updates on the almond and walnut markets. We discussed property rights and water rights related to solar and the Williamson Act. We also reviewed potential policy changes that might need to be addressed to better serve our members. 

Alex Dominguez our 1st President, Rachel Nettleton our Executive Director, and I later visited the Capitol and met with Senator Melissa Hurtado, Assemblymember Dr. Jasmeet Baines, and the staff at Senator Shannon Grove’s office. We later had the opportunity to network with an assortment of other senators, assemblypersons, and commodity groups. Building relationships is always top of mind on these trips to Sacramento and our Capitol. While we focus on issues impacting our local communities, relationships are key to furthering these discussions. It’s the passion we share that makes us memorable and helps to establish trust.  

I often say relationships are more important than discussing issues themselves. It’s when we build those relationships that we become the trusted source and a confidant to turn to when issues arise. These advocacy visits and meetings with our elected officials in their environment allow us to offer our stories, share our passion, and provide insights into our expertise. 

Just like those conversations we have with our neighbors, the grocery store clerk, and our fellow little league parents — once we become the trusted source, they might open up to us about questions they have or food choices they should make in the future. It’s the relationships we build that can better serve our community and industry. 

When we build those relationships, you never know where they will take you. In the relationships you make, ensure you always share your passion. 

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