Embattled Farmer John Duarte Defends Farming in Federal Court

Farmer Must Defend Plowing His Wheat Field

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

John Duarte, a California farmer who gained national attention after the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Army Corps) sued him for plowing his Tehama County wheat field, will defend himself in a federal courthouse in Sacramento on Tuesday, August 15.

“Agriculture is at a very dire crossroads right now,” said Duarte, imploring all farming stakeholders and food consumers across the country “to get loud with their Senators, Representatives and USACE. And if you know how to get ahold of President Trump, give him a call.”

In February 2013, with no warning or opportunity to discuss the matter, USACE sent Duarte a cease and desist letter to suspend farming operations, claiming that he had illegally filled wetlands on his wheat field simply by plowing it.

“I am being prosecuted for planting wheat in a wheat field during a global food crisis,” Duarte said. “They’re claiming I should have pulled a [Clean Water Act] permit that nobody has ever pulled and conducted practices that nobody has ever conducted to grow wheat.”

Duarte who is also the owner of Duarte Nursery, argues that the Army Corps violated his constitutional right to due process. He said the agency came down on him hard and never gave him an opportunity to defend himself against the accusations before levying the fine. Duarte now faces $2.8 million in government fines.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is prosecuting us,” Duarte said, “and the Army Corps does not even have subject matter jurisdiction to conduct this prosecution.”

In a June 14, 2017, news release, Tony Francois, senior attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation, explained, “Prosecutors and bureaucrats are seeking to establish, for the first time, that farmers with seasonal puddles need a federal wetlands permit in order to plow their own private land—even though plowing is exempt from Clean Water Act (CWA) coverage.”

Duarte believes if he were to lose the upcoming trial, it would change the way farmers in America farm. “This battle may never be resurrected in court. Taking this battle to the Supreme Court on several fronts is the only way to give farmers the long-term security they need, the right to farm and property rights protections, to deliver food security to America.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the farm bureau in Duarte’s backyard and farm bureaus across the country are behind him.

“The Butte County Farm Bureau has 1065 members,” Duarte stated, “and they donated a check for $10,650 to the Duarte Defense Fund at California Farm Bureau Federation. That’s $10 a member! Thanks to the challenge from Biggs, CA, farmer, Clark Becker (President of the Butte County Farm Bureau) that defense fund has already collected over $100,000 in support of our lawsuit. We are hoping to collect hundreds of thousands more.”

Duarte said, “Although this lawsuit for planting wheat in a wheat field has gained a lot of attention, we need more help to fight it.”

While Duarte is grateful for the political support in favor of Duarte Nursery’s position in this wetlands prosecution, he wants to settle this case before trial. “We need complete rights to appeal, and if necessary, to take it to the Supreme Court of the United States. We must protect food security as well as farmers’ right to farm.”

“My greatest nightmare is if Duarte Nursery is forced into settling this case without the right to appeal. If we cannot get such a release, American farming could be oppressed by federal agencies into the future, and there won’t be another fool to follow us and stand up to them again.”

“Any farmer can see the kind of abuse—the misstatements, the falsehoods, the misquoting of laws that the Department of Justice is using in this case against us—and the $2.5 to $3 million we’re spending to fight this battle. There won’t be another family to come along and fight like this in the future.”

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Cost of Thanksgiving Dinner Rises, But is Still Under $50 For 10 People

Let’s All Remember and Give Thanks to Farmers and Farmworkers Who Provide Us with Food for our Thanksgiving Celebration

The American Farm Bureau Federation’s 29th annual informal price survey of classic items found on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table indicates the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.41, a 37-cent increase from last year’s average of $49.04.

The big ticket item – a 16-pound turkey – came in at $21.65 this year. That’s roughly $1.35 per pound, a decrease of less than 1 cent per pound, or a total of 11 cents per whole turkey, compared to 2013.

“Turkey production has been somewhat lower this year and wholesale prices are a little higher, but consumers should find an adequate supply of birds at their local grocery store,” AFBF Deputy Chief Economist John Anderson said. Some grocers may use turkeys as “loss leaders,” a common strategy deployed to entice shoppers to come through the doors and buy other popular Thanksgiving foods.

The AFBF survey shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10. There is also plenty for leftovers.

Foods showing the largest increases this year were sweet potatoes, dairy products and pumpkin pie mix. Sweet potatoes came in at $3.56 for three pounds. A half pint of whipping cream was $2.00; one gallon of whole milk, $3.76; and a 30-ounce can of pumpkin pie mix, $3.12. A one-pound relish tray of carrots and celery ($.82) and one pound of green peas ($1.55) also increased in price. A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (butter, evaporated milk, onions, eggs, sugar and flour) rose to $3.48.

In addition to the turkey, other items that declined modestly in price included a 14-ounce package of cubed bread stuffing, $2.54; 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, $2.34; two nine-inch pie shells, $2.42; and a dozen brown-n-serve rolls, $2.17.

The average cost of the dinner has remained around $49 since 2011.

“America’s farmers and ranchers remain committed to continuously improving the way they grow food for our tables, both for everyday meals and special occasions like Thanksgiving dinner that many of us look forward to all year,” Anderson said. “We are blessed to be able to provide a special holiday meal for 10 people for about $5.00 per serving – less than the cost of most fast food meals.”

The stable average price reported this year by Farm Bureau for a classic Thanksgiving dinner tracks closely with the government’s Consumer Price Index for food eaten at home (available online at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm), which indicates a 3-percent increase compared to a year ago.

A total of 179 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 35 states. Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spending $50 and receiving a free turkey.

Shoppers with an eye for bargains in all areas of the country should be able to purchase individual menu items at prices comparable to the Farm Bureau survey averages. Another option for busy families without a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for up to 10 people, with all the trimmings, which are available at many supermarkets and take-out restaurants for around $50 to $75.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.

Source: Cyndie Sirekis,  AFBF Director of Internal Communications

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Farmers, Agriculture Technology Providers Reach Agreement on Big Data Privacy and Security Principles Expected to Accelerate Technology Adoption

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter

A coalition of major farm organizations and agriculture technology providers (ATPs) announced an agreement on data privacy and security principles that will encourage the use and development of a full range of innovative, technology-driven tools and services to boost the productivity, efficiency and profitability of American agriculture.

The coalition supporting the principles includes: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Beck’s Hybrids, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont Pioneer, John Deere, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, Raven Industries, The Climate Corporation – a division of Monsanto, and USA Rice Federation.

“The principles released today provide a measure of needed certainty to farmers regarding the protection of their data,” said American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. “Farmers using these technology-driven tools will help feed a growing world while also providing quantifiable environmental benefits. These principles are meant to be inclusive and we hope other farm organizations and ATPs join this collaborative effort in protecting farm-level data as well as educating farmers about this revolutionary technology.”

The principles promise to greatly accelerate the move to the next generation of agricultural data technology, which includes in-cab displays, mobile devices and wireless-enabled precision agriculture that has already begun to boost farm productivity across the United States.

Central to the effort surrounding the principles will be grower education initiatives that will include an easy-to-use transparency evaluation tool for farmers. The tool would allow farmers to compare and contrast specific issues within ATP contracts and to see how the contracts align with these agreed-upon principles, and how ATPs manage and use farmers’ data.

“The privacy and security principles that underpin these emerging technologies, whether related to how data is gathered, protected and shared, must be transparent and secure. On this matter, we all agree,” said Stallman. “Farmers are excited about this new technology front, which is why Farm Bureau asked these groups to come together and begin this collaborative dialogue.”

The principles cover a wide range of issues that must be addressed before most farmers will feel assured to share their private business information with data providers. Highlights include:

  • Ownership: The group believes that farmers own information generated on their farming operations. However, farming is complex and dynamic and it is the responsibility of the farmer to agree upon data use and sharing with the other stakeholders with an economic interest such as the tenant, landowner, cooperative, owner of the precision agriculture system hardware, and/or ATP etc. The farmer contracting with the ATP is responsible for ensuring that only the data they own or have permission to use is included in the account with the ATP.
  • Collection, Access and Control: An ATP’s collection, access and use of farm data should be granted only with the affirmative and explicit consent of the farmer.
  • Notice: Farmers must be notified that their data is being collected and about how the farm data will be disclosed and used.
  • Third-party access and use: Farmers and ranchers also need to know who, if anyone, will have access to their data beyond the primary ATP and how they will use it.
  • Transparency and Consistency: ATPs shall notify farmers about the purposes for which they collect and use farm data. They should provide information about how farmers can contact the ATP with any inquiries or complaints, the types of third parties to which they disclose the data, and the choices the ATP offers for limiting its use and disclosure.
  • Choice: ATPs should explain the effects and abilities of a farmer’s decision to opt in, opt out or disable the availability of services and features offered by the ATP.
  • Portability: Within the context of the agreement and retention policy, farmers should be able to retrieve their data for storage or use in other systems, with the exception of the data that has been made anonymous or aggregated and is no longer specifically identifiable.
  • Data Availability: ATPs agree they should provide for the removal, secure destruction and return of original farm data from the ATP, and any third party with whom the ATP has shared the data, upon request by the account holder or after a pre-agreed period of time.
  • Market Speculation: ATPs will not use farm data to illegally speculate in commodity markets.
  • Liability & Security Safeguards: The ATP should clearly define terms of liability. Farm data should be protected with reasonable security safeguards against risks such as loss or unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure.

Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data can be found here: http://bit.ly/1zjQ4Sk.

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Commentary: Proposed EPA ‘waters’ rule hangs farmers out to dry

Source: Don Parrish; Ag Alert

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to expand the scope of “navigable waters” subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction was drafted, according to the agency, to reduce uncertainty. It’s very clear the proposed waters of the U.S. rule is designed to allow the federal government to regulate every place water flows when it rains, including small and remote “waters” and ephemeral drains and ditches.

We all know that water flows downhill and that at some point, some of that water eventually finds its way into a creek, stream or river. Yet, based on nothing more than the flow of rainwater along a natural pathway across the land, the EPA wants to call vast areas of otherwise dry land “tributaries” and therefore “navigable waters.”

With its proposal to regulate land that is dry most of the year and miles from the nearest truly navigable water, EPA is putting farmers in a tenuous position. EPA and other supporters of the proposed rule have made much of a long-standing exemption for agriculture, and claim that it still stands; however, the proposed rule narrows that exemption and opens it up to litigation. The “normal farming and ranching” exemption only applies to a specific type of Clean Water Act permit for “dredge and fill” materials. There is also no farm or ranch exemption from Clean Water Act permit requirements for what EPA would call “pollutants.”

Ultimately, the new permitting requirements that would come with this proposal would mean that common farm activities could trigger Clean Water Act liability and the need for Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits if pollutants could incidentally be deposited into ditches, ephemerals and other features that will now fall under federal jurisdiction.

At the same time EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are telling farmers and ranchers they’re got nothing to worry about because the exemption puts them in the clear, the agency is moving forward with a guidance document that will govern how it interprets the “normal farming” exemption contained in Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

This interpretive rule makes fundamental changes in how the exemption for normal agricultural activities at “established” farms will be applied and enforced. Contrary to assertions by proponents, this interpretive rule narrows how the exemption is applied and increases farmers’ liability by requiring that farmers comply with Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation standards, which were previously voluntary, in order to be exempt from Section 404 permitting.

Like the proposed waters of the U.S. rule, the interpretive rule conflicts with congressional intent. In 1977, Congress amended the Clean Water Act to exempt “normal” farming, ranching and silviculture from Section 404 “dredge and fill” permit requirements. However, EPA and the Corps are now asserting that farmers are exempt from Section 404 permits so long as any of 56 listed practices comply with NRCS standards, despite the fact that those practices have qualified as the “normal” farming, ranching and silviculture activities for 37 years.

The newly proposed interpretation of “normal farming and ranching” would apply only to farms and ranches that EPA determines to be “established” and “ongoing”—not newer or expanded farms and ranches. Where does this leave the children and grandchildren of farmers and ranchers who want to work the land but need to grow the operation to support an expanding family? What does this mean for the billions of people who will need to be fed in the future?

Worried about the answers to those questions and the many threats the proposed rule poses to agriculture, the American Farm Bureau Federation launched a website at ditchtherule.fb.org to help farmers, ranchers, landowners and others express the need for EPA to “Ditch the Rule.” Focused on topics and analysis related to the proposed rule, the site includes several sections: Take Action, Go Social, Find Answers and Get Resources. We encourage you to visit the site, sign up to learn more, comment on the proposed rule and send tweets using the hashtag #DitchTheRule. You should also voice your concerns to your state and local officials and your U.S. representative and senators.

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Debate Heats up on Proposed EPA Water-Quality Rule

Source: Kate Campbell; Ag Alert

Discussion has intensified about proposed changes to the Federal Clean Water Act. As farmers and ranchers express increasing concern about enhanced permitting requirements, land-use restrictions and legal liability that the proposal could cause, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched its own campaign to defend the proposal.

Agricultural leaders want the EPA to scrap the proposed rule changes, terming them a poorly orchestrated attempt to expand agency jurisdiction. The proposed rule was published in April, and remains open to public comment until October.

County Farm Bureaus in California are joining the national push to have the proposed rule changes withdrawn, reaching out to members of the state’s congressional delegation and urging the proposal be stopped.

Meanwhile, the EPA called its proposals merely an effort to clarify regulatory jurisdiction, which was called for in two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that ruled against the agency’s attempt to expand its jurisdiction over “waters of the United States.” EPA said the proposed rule would have minimal economic impact and would not affect many acres—only about 1,300 acres nationwide.

The American Farm Bureau Federation called that assertion “laughable,” considering the amount of land nationwide that has the capacity to retain seasonal moisture, a condition covered by the proposed rule. Under the proposal, legal experts say, wet spots could be deemed “waters of the U.S.”

AFBF said the EPA effort to expand its jurisdictional authority over most types of waters and lands is regulatory overreach that has the potential to impose costly and time-consuming federal permit requirements, as well as place limits on routine farming practices, such as building a fence across a ditch or pulling weeds. Essentially, EPA has proposed regulations that fundamentally redefine “waters of the U.S.” and eliminate the term “navigable” from the law, AFBF said.

“We’re urging Congress to take a look at the proposed rules and we’re urging the agency to withdraw both of them,” California Farm Bureau Federation Federal Policy Manager Rayne Pegg said, referring to both the main EPA proposal redefining “waters of the U.S.” and an “interpretive rule” that focuses on agricultural activities.

Pegg stressed that farmers recognize the need to protect water quality, and already abide by a number of water-quality regulations.

“Adding another layer of regulation does not mean you will get better results,” she said. “Instead, the rule will create more paperwork. It’s a poorly conceived rule. EPA should meet with farmers and listen to its own Scientific Advisory Board to craft something that is practical.”

There are a number of things going on in Congress right now related to these rules, she said, and CFBF has been responding to questions from members of congressional committees—including the House Appropriations Committee, which is considering legislation to remove funding for implementation of the proposed waters of the U.S. rule.

In response to the uproar over the proposal, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy took to the road last week—touring a Missouri farm and meeting with a number of Kansas farm groups. She acknowledged during a lunch discussion with agricultural leaders the waters of the U.S. proposal has “fallen flat on its face.”

But during a speech in Kansas City, she charged that the EPA proposal has been beset by “D.C. myths.”

“Misinformation is becoming the story, while the legitimate, serious issues that we need to talk about are taking the back seat,” McCarthy said.

At the same time McCarthy visited the Midwest, the Natural Resources Defense Council—an environmental organization—took out advertisements supporting the EPA proposal.

Confusion about what the proposed rule may actually cover and conflicting interpretations of the rule changes may leave political leaders with the impression the proposal is benign and that farmers don’t need to worry, said CFBF associate counsel Kari Fisher.

“EPA would like political leaders and the public to believe that all farmers need to do is go ahead with normal farming practices and not worry about the proposed changes,” she said. “Unfortunately, that’s incorrect.”

Fisher said the interpretive rule on agriculture would require certain farming practices—such as putting in a new fence or maintaining a ditch—to comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture standards administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She noted that the interpretive rule would apply only to Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which covers dredging and infilling land that could affect wetlands.

But the proposed rule to expand the definition of “navigable waters” applies to the entire Clean Water Act, she said, and would expand EPA jurisdiction over water.

“If the proposed rule redefining waters of the U.S. is adopted, farmers with land that features a depression or low spot that’s adjacent to a tributary flowing to navigable water could be brought under the rule’s jurisdiction,” Fisher said.

Although the interpretive rule might provide a limited layer of protection for farming and ranching activities from the need to obtain Section 404 permits, she said, “it will not provide protection from other necessary Clean Water Act permits, such as those for the discharge of pollutants.”

Farm Bureau leaders continue to urge members to help prevent the proposed rule from becoming final by commenting about the impact the proposal would have on their farms and ranches.

Information from EPA on the proposed changes to the CWA can be found online at www2.epa.gov/uswaters. Background information on the issue from AFBF is online at http://ditchtherule.fb.org/.

For information on arranging local farm tours, grower roundtables and informational meetings with members and staff of California’s congressional delegation, contact county Farm Bureau offices or the CFBF Federal Policy Division at 916-561-5610.

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Several Key Industry Associations Urge Immigration Reform

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday urged Congress and the Administration to work together to enact immigration reform in order to drive job creation and economic growth.

The call came as part of the national ‘Day of Action’, which included events in Washington D.C. along with 25 other states.

Several key agricultural and economic industry groups also supported the proposal, including the Western Growers Association, Partnership for a New American Economy, American Farm Bureau Federation and AmericanHort.

The national press conference in the U.S. capital featured leading business association CEOs discussing the critical need for new legislation.

There was also a range of coordinated events throughout the country with state farm bureaus, local businesses and state representatives which aimed to show immigration laws in the business community needed to be modernized across industries, sectors and geographies.

In a release, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said he strongly believed improvements were needed and he would continue to make the case for them.

“While our lawmakers are deadlocked on this issue, business leaders are more determined than ever to fix our immigration system,” Donohue said.

“We need meaningful immigration reform to revitalize our economy and to remain a nation ruled by law, guided by principle, and driven by compassion and common sense.

“We’re going to continue to make the case in the nation’s capital and in every corner of this country, and will use every tool and resource at our disposal. We’re not going to let up until the job gets done.”

Western Growers president and CEO Tom Nassif echoed Donohue’s remarks, adding many currently unauthorized immigrant workers were vital for the agricultural industry.

“The effect of inaction on immigration reform is devastating to the fresh produce industry and consumers. We rely on people to plant and harvest the nutritious and domestic supply of food for Americans and for export,” Nassif said.

“Many of these workers are unauthorized, but are willing and able to do the work. It’s been demonstrated many times that Americans won’t work in the fields, so why won’t our elected officials provide us the means to have a legal, reliable workforce?

If no solution is provided, production will continue to move overseas along with the jobs agriculture supports in rural communities across America.”

American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman also said the current laws were outdated and changes were needed for both farmers and the economy.

“As a nation, we can’t afford to continue with an immigration system we’ve long outgrown and is working more and more against our overall national interest,” he said.

“We urge Congress and the Administration to work together and with us to achieve real immigration reform that addresses the needs of farmers, the economy, as well as the country’s need for border security.”

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Thank a Farmer For Your Food Independence

As you fire up the grill this Independence Day, be sure to thank a farmer, whose contributions help keep the cost of a Fourth of July feast under $6 bucks a person, according to a recent survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Considering Americans spend just 10 percent of our incomes on food – the lowest of any country – we are all indebted to the “thin green line” of only 210,000 full-time U.S. farms that produce a product that is safe, abundant and uniquely American.

These farmers are also critical to our nation’s “food independence.” This food security does not happen by accident. It is a blessing that is fostered by smart policy.

The roots of government involvement in U .S. agriculture are actually as old as the nation itself.   Government involvement began with the founding fathers of the nation and carries the fingerprints of other great Americans who followed.

In 1799, after years of colonies and states granting tracts of land to citizens encouraging people to plant crops and begin commerce, George Washington called for the establishment of the National Board of Agriculture to collect information on the nation’s agricultural inventories.

Not surprising since our first president was also quoted as saying: “It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance.”

President Abraham Lincoln then established the USDA in 1862, a department that has grown since then to include promoting agriculture trade, working to assure adequate and safe food and striving to end hunger in America and abroad.

Over the next 40 years, as the world population grows from 7 billion to 9 billion and demand for agricultural commodities doubles, we need such policies that encourage investment and constant improvement.

If done right, more nations and peoples will continue to know the happiness of a safe and reliable and affordable food supply.

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Farm Bureau Kicks Off ‘Our Food Link’ Program

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, farmer and rancher members of the Farm Bureau from around the country officially kicked off the organization’s new “Our Food Link” program in conjunction with a conference for state leaders of Women’s Leadership and Promotion & Education programs.

“Our Food Link is a year-round program that county and state Farm Bureaus use to provide consumers of all ages and backgrounds with information about today’s agriculture,” explained Terry Gilbert, a Kentucky farmer and chair of the American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee.

“People want to know where their food comes from and who is growing or raising it,” Gilbert said. “Helping people connect with sources of clothing, food, shelter and energy in their communities is the foundation of this multifaceted new program,” she said.

Our Food Link activities range from outreach at supermarkets or farmers’ markets to hosting interactive booths at community events, speaking with lawmakers and neighbors about food and visiting classrooms to help students understand agricultural topics.

Other program ideas include: an Adopt-a-Farmer program, fun runs, garden projects and “Zest ‘n Zing” or other foodie events. Our Food Link activities may also include the collection of food and monetary donations for Ronald McDonald House Charities or other charities.

About 15 Farm Bureau members shopped for and donated food to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington, D.C., earlier this month. The connection between Farm Bureau and Ronald McDonald House Charities was forged in the mid-1990s. Since then, Farm Bureau members have donated more than $3 million in food and monetary contributions to Ronald McDonald Houses and other charities.

The Our Food Link planning toolkit and publicity tools may be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1j1jH5H.

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JCAST Students Claim Back-to-Back State Championships at Discussion Meet

Source: Eddie Hughes; Fresno State News and Fresno County Farm Bureau 

Fresno State senior Levy Randolph of Hemet earned the individual state championship in the California Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Collegiate Discussion Meet on March 1 in Visalia.

Randolph, an Agricultural Education major, was one of eight students who represented Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology at the meet. Randolph now advances to compete in February 2015 at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Leadership Conference in Nashville.

The discussion meet competition was designed for young members of the farm bureau to participate in a progressive and collaborative discussion. Participants are judged on content, cooperative attitude, presentation and knowledge of the pre-determined speaking topics.

Competitors discuss pressing issues of the agriculture industry and strive to cultivate solutions from their 20-minute discussion.

This was Fresno State’s fourth team championship all-time and Randolph will be the fifth Bulldog to represent California at the national competition.

Randolph’s winnings included an expense-paid trip to the national competition and a cash prize of $1,250.

Joining Randolph in the final round of competition was Fresno State Agricultural Communications major Jodi Raley of Tollhouse. Raley earned a $500 cash prize. Audra Roland, an Agricultural Business major from Tollhouse, made it to the semifinals.

Dr. Steven Rocca, professor of Agricultural Education and Communications, has coached the competition since 2006. “Our students’ hard work and dedication led to the overall team win,” Rocca said. “We are thrilled that one of our students earned the state championship, enabling our team to become back-to-back champs. The skills these students learn will be valuable tools in their future as our agricultural leaders.”

Additional members of the team include: Ana Lopez, an Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary major from Tulare; Victor Evans, an Agricultural Education-Teacher Preparation major from Fresno; Kyle Mendes, an Agricultural Education-Teacher Preparation major from Modesto; Rachel Wright, an Agricultural Communications major from Tollhouse; and Mallory Harrison an Agricultural Communications major from Bakersfield.

The Young Farmers and Ranchers are active agriculturalists, ages 18 to 35. Members develop leadership skills through community service, service-learning and maintaining active involvement in their county farm bureaus.

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (JCAST) offers education needed to be a leader in agriculture and related sciences. They offer programs in the traditional areas of agriculture, including animal science, plant science, agricultural education, viticulture and agricultural business. 

JCAST also offers excellent programs in areas uniquely related to agriculture, including industrial technology, food science and nutrition, enology, child development, family science and fashion merchandising. 

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