Kern County Farm Bureau hosted a Past President’s mixer to network and learn from former bureau leaders. (Photo courtesy of Jenny Holtermann, KCFB) 

By Jenny Holtermann, President, Kern County Farm Bureau 

Growing up on a family farm, I remember my father dealing with multiple challenges facing the agriculture industry. A dependable workforce, irrigation deficiencies, low market prices, and business dynamics were just a few I remember. Thirty years later, as my husband and I farm today with his family, I see many parallels to the current issues in agriculture.   

Writer-philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who do not learn their history, are doomed to repeat it.” There have been so many great forefathers before us who have tried to tackle issues in agriculture. Are we open to their criticism? Are we open to their experiences? Are we willing to sit down and learn from their mistakes and successes? 

During two main events in March, these same questions came to mind. The Water Association of Kern County hosted its annual Kern County Water Summit with topics ranging from federal water updates, water banking, the economic impact of water regulations, and SGMA to name a few.  

It was the SGMA panel and discussion from State Water Board Vice Chair, Dee Dee D’Adamo that got me thinking, “What have we learned?” As our county prepares for SGMA, there are many new approaches in the works. The structure, coordination, and technical support organizations are very different this time around as our Kern Basin groundwater sustainability plan is on the chopping block yet again. We have a team of water managers, landowners, engineers, and consultants working together in collaboration to hopefully create an approved SGMA plan. Kern County has learned from a few failed attempts that all parties need to be on the same page. The approach to our county plan has several moving factors, but there seems to be much more coordination and cooperation working toward a common goal. Our boots are on that carpet, ensuring the shoes are listening.  

Kern County Farm Bureau was excited to bring back our Past Presidents Mixer in March. It was an opportunity for our Platinum Partners and Board Members to mix and mingle with our 10 Past presidents in attendance at the event. George Meek, president from 1989-1991, joined us along with Pete Belluomini, Dennis Atkinson, Tim Thomson, Steve Maniaci, Greg Wegis, Tito Martinez, Jeff Rasmussen, John Moore, and Patty Poire. I am honored that our past presidents joined us to share their experiences, words of advice, and wealth of knowledge. It was a special event to ensure we do not lose the expertise and understanding that these past presidents can offer. This unique opportunity is another way to say thank you to our Platinum Partners for their dedication to Kern County agriculture and an insider perk to their membership level. The knowledge and life experiences of the past need to be heard if we are going to move forward.   

These events and relationships are an important component of building our future. While we don’t necessarily need to do the same thing as the generations before us, there are successes we can learn from. Their failures and disappointments are opportunities we need to understand to ensure we do not follow the same path. When we forget the struggles they faced, we are doomed to repeat them. We have a choice to either learn from our experiences or ignore our history. With all that is facing agriculture in this dire time, we can not disregard the past. Local family farmers and ranchers built Kern County and it is our job to ensure agriculture has a future with them in it.  

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