Former President George Radanovich Goes Back to Washington
This week, Randy Giumarra, the Chairman of the California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) Board of Directors, announced that Ian LeMay will serve as the new president of CFFA. LeMay will succeed George Radanovich, who has held the position since 2016 and will be leaving CFFA to promote sound ag labor policy in Washington, D.C.
Giumarra said, “Ian’s appointment is a reflection of our Board’s commitment to establishing long-term leadership for our industry.”
He continued, “Our board and I have worked closely with Ian over the past four years. We are confident in his abilities and look forward to his leadership. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank George for his time, leadership, and impact that he has made over the last three years. George’s service is greatly appreciated by our entire membership.”
LeMay has dedicated his career to supporting and advocating for the continued success of California agriculture. Since 2015, LeMay has served as CFFA’s Director of Member Relations and Communications.
From 2011 to 2015, LeMay served as the District Director for Congressman Jim Costa, who represents California’s 16th Congressional District. As District Director, LeMay managed the Congressman’s district staff and advised the Congressman on a number of issues, including agriculture, water, and transportation. Prior to working for Congressman Costa, LeMay worked as a California Market Specialist for the Lindsay Corporation. LeMay is a recent graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program (Class 48).
“I am humbled and appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve the members of the California Fresh Fruit Association in a new capacity,” LeMa said. “I came to the Association four years ago because I believe in its mission, deeply respect its history and see infinite potential in advocating for the permanent fresh fruit growers and shippers of California. I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to observe two great Association leaders in Barry Bedwell and George Radanovich, and thank them for their commitment to bettering our industry. The challenges that face us are many. These have not been easy years for our industry, but I remain confident in the future of California agriculture and our opportunity to advocate for meaningful policy with a unified voice.”
LeMay will begin his tenure as CFFA President on June 1st. Ian and his wife, Molly, reside in Fresno with their two children, Emery Rose and Ellison James, and will welcome their third child this August.
ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION
For more than eighty (80) years the California Fresh Fruit Association has been the primary government relations organization serving the fresh fruit industry. It is a voluntary public policy organization that works on behalf of our members—growers, shippers, marketers, and associates—on issues that specifically affect member commodities: fresh grapes, kiwis, pomegranates, cherries, blueberries, peaches, pears, apricots, nectarines, interspecific varieties, plums, apples and persimmons. It is the Association’s responsibility to serve as a liaison between regulatory and legislative authorities by acting as the unified voice of our members. The challenges are countless for growers, shippers, and marketers as they strive to remain viable in an ever-changing market. Increasing regulatory requirements make it difficult to flourish, regardless of the size of the operation.
The Association’s dedicated staff advocates daily in the best interest of our members to ensure that regulators and legislators are using sound science and accurate information when considering laws or rules that will be imposed on industry members. However, aside from the variety of issues the Association works on, there is an important networking component. As each company has its own business interest, the membership as a whole shares a common, vested interest in the long-term health of tree fruit, fresh grape and berry communities in California.
Congress Will Not and Cannot Do it Alone, Radanovich Says
By Hannah Young, Associate Editor
The future does not seem bright for California farmers who are desperately searching for labors to harvest crops. California Ag Today spoke with George Radanovich, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association and former U.S Congressman, about the need for immigration reform.
Radanovich spent 16 years in Washington, D.C, and from his experience is not convinced that Congress alone will make immigration reform right for California farmers.
“I think that we need to get to President Trump and suggest that he intervene by direct talks with Mexico and create a system that will not leave our farmers high and dry,” Radanovich said.
In order to assure that farmers have enough labor for harvest, immigrants should be allowed to stay in the country as long as they are working during the time the government is implementing a new system, affirming border control, and e-verifying immigrants, Radanovich explained.
However, getting a system of this type will be tough to get past Congress due to a large portion feeling that every farmer worker is probably illegal and needs to go back to Mexico or any other foreign country.
“They don’t get it because they don’t live here, most of them, so they don’t understand how the system works,” Radanovich concluded.
Produce Industry Gets Praise for Unified Voice on the Matter
The California Fresh Fruit Association is pleased with Kroger’s recent announcement that produce shippers will not have to comply with its new “Net 90” payment plan.
California Fresh Fruit Association President George Radanovich stated, “We appreciate Kroger’s acknowledgment that the ‘Net 90’ payment plan didn’t work for the produce industry. We stand by our position that Kroger’s original push to implement its plan was wrong and illegal.”
To force suppliers to forfeit their rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA), an act created specifically to protect the perishable fresh fruit industry, was unconscionable and should never have been proposed.
Radanovich continued, “We would like to commend the fresh produce industry for coming together as a unified voice for our industry. Today we held the line on an important issue.”
Radanovich concluded, “As I’ve stated before, the fresh produce industry has been a good partner to Kroger; we appreciate that Kroger remembered that partnership and fixed the mess it created.”
Ballots in UFW Decertification Vote Must be Counted
By Joanne Lui, Associate Editor
Two officials spoke out via press release following today’s ruling that the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) must count the ballots cast by Gerawan employees in the 2013 vote to decertify the United Farm Workers (UFW) as their union bargaining representative.
George Radanovich, President of the California Fresh Fruit Association, applauded the decision by the 5th District Court of Appeal.
Radanovich stated, “This has been a long time coming. We are encouraged and pleased to see the Court account for the most important opinion in this entire matter, the prerogative of the employees.”
Gerawan employees voted in a sanctioned election in November 2013 to decertify the United Farm Workers as their bargaining representative. Despite having ordered, sanctioned and supervised the election, the ALRB impounded the ballots, withheld a final vote count, and thereby denied recognition and acceptance of the employees’ decision.
Radanovich continued, “Today’s Court action would not have occurred without the determined effort of Gerawan Farming, Inc.; the Gerawan family; and in particular, company president Dan Gerawan, for defending his company and his employees’ right to choose. Finally, sunlight has been cast onto this injustice and the farmworkers’ voice will be heard.”
Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) made the following statement regarding today’s ruling:
“This moment is the next step in the most important civil rights battle of our time. More than 2,600 immigrant farmworkers from the Central Valley cast their ballots to determine their own future. Those votes were locked up tight and stowed away by the ALRB—the same agency whose job it is to protect the rights of farmworkers.”
“These hard-working men and women know exactly why their ballots were taken, and they have spent countless hours fighting for the fundamental right to have their votes counted so their voices can be heard loud and clear. Today is victory for them.”
ALRB Rejects Gerawan’s Motion to Disqualify Isadore Hall III
By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor
Our ongoing coverage of developments among United Farm Workers (UFW), Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), Gerawan Farming, Inc. and California farm workers chronicles the continuing, increasingly complex quagmire that masquerades as protecting California farm workers’ rights.
In short, after a series of legal volleys between Gerawan Farming and ALRB this past spring, the ALRB, again, refused to disqualify ALRB Member Isadore Hall III, former state senator (35th District, D-Compton), from participating in specific Gerawan legal cases on the basis of alleged pro-UFW bias.
In legal terms, ALRB issued an administrative order on June 9, 2017, denying Gerawan Farming, Inc.’s May 23, 2017 motion for reconsideration of request to disqualify Isadore Hall III from participating in specific case deliberations and decisions regarding Gerawan Farming, Inc. Likewise, ALRB also denied Gerawan’s request for a stay of the proceedings pending resolution of Mr. Hall’s participation.
Condensed Early History
The UFW was certified as the bargaining representative for Gerawan’s agricultural employees in July 1992, after a 1990 election. After one preliminary negotiating session in February 1995, the UFW disappeared for almost two decades, having never collected dues, negotiated for a wage increase, attempted to bargain for a contract or filed a single grievance on behalf of Gerawan employees during their abandonment, according to an April 17, 2017, Gerawan news release.
In 2013, the UFW invoked a controversial 2002 Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC) law that allows the ALRB to draft and impose a “contract” on the employer and employees against their will. UFW also proposed that Gerawan employees pay 3% of their wages to the UFW or be fired. Fewer than 1% of the current Gerawan workforce voted in the 1990 election, and many current employees were not even born when that election took place.
The majority of employees twice asked ALRB for an election to decertify the UFW. At the ALRB’s request, the Fresno Superior Court intervened and supervised the decertification petition process—the first time in ALRB history that a court oversaw an ALRB election.
On November 5, 2013, thousands of Gerawan workers cast secret ballots to decide whether to decertify the UFW. The ALRB impounded the ballots, which remain uncounted to this date in an undisclosed (possibly insecure) location.
Current History – 2017
Appointment of Isadore Hall III to ALRB
In his January 13, 2017, letter of resignation to Governor Brown as ALRB Chairman, William B. Gould IV stated that the Agricultural Labor Relations Act [ALRA or “Act”] “is now irrelevant to farm workers, in particular, because, for the most part, they are not aware of the provisions, procedures, and rights contained in the law.”
“I have pointed out [in several speeches] that only one representation petition has been filed during the 34 months of my Chairmanship,” Gould continued. “More than 99% of the agricultural workforce appears to be unrepresented and the instances of unfair labor practice charges and invocation of the Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation Act (MMC) are few and far between.”
“Regrettably, though the Board adopted the proposed rule 14 months ago for worker education about the Act’s features, the rule has languished in the bowels of state bureaucracy for the past 14 months. My view is that this long delay is substantially attributable to the fact that the ALRB, unlike the NLRB, is not a standalone, independent administrative agency.”
Also on January 13, 2017, Governor Brown designated Genevieve Shiroma as Chair of the ALRB, where she had served as a member since 1999, an appointment that did not require Senate confirmation. Likewise, Governor Brown appointed Isadore Hall III, and the California Senate confirmed his appointment, despite Hall’s public history of pro-UFW activity and endorsements and allegations that he threatened farmers who opposed his nomination.
Agricultural Community Responds to Hall’s Appointment
In “Farmers Deserve a Balanced Ag Labor Board,”a letter published in the Sacramento Bee on February 23, 2017 by George Radanovich, (president of the California Fresh Fruit Association), Joel Nelsen (president of California Citrus Mutual) and Tom Nassif (president of Western Growers Association), the authors explained, “The purpose of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) was to bring about a sense of justice and fair play during a tumultuous time in the farm fields of California in 1975.”
“When the ALRB was formed in 1975,” the authors stated, “it was with the understanding that membership would consist of two members representing labor, two representing agriculture, and one public or neutral member. Instead, the board has become one of the most contentious, lopsided administrative boards ever assembled by the state of California. The recent resignation of Chairman William Gould IV and his prompt replacement by former state Sen. Isadore Hall, D- Compton, only further illustrate this imbalance.”
In place of conducting outreach to all affected stakeholders, including agriculture, “in a matter of 48 hours, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed a termed-out state senator and failed congressional candidate who has no labor law background whatsoever but with strong ties to the UFW.”
Hall’s UFW ties were listed as “financial support by the UFW, personal ties with UFW President Arturo Rodriguez and raising the union banner while marching with the UFW. While a state senator, Hall was the principal co-author of two UFW-sponsored bills and voted in favor of two other bills that would make it easier to force ALRB-written contracts on farmers and workers. These close ties should disqualify him from the position where he will judge UFW issues almost daily.”
“There is no denying that the ALRB’S recent decision to prevent the disclosure of the November 2013 election results, from the high-profile decertification fiasco of Gerawan Farming of Fresno was to cover up the fact that most farm workers don’t want to unionize.”
“Today, California farm workers are protected by the strictest labor laws in the nation, and they decline to unionize because they value a good employer over a union. Brown should recognize this and rewrite the ALRA to guarantee employer representation on the board. California farmers deserve better than a lopsided Agricultural Labor Relations Board.”
ALRB Decides Gerawan Negotiated “in Bad Faith”
On April 14, 2017, ALRB Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) William Schmidt issued an interim decision finding that Gerawan committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to negotiate “in good faith” with the UFW. Essentially Judge Schmidt contended, “Gerawan engaged in collective bargaining negotiations with the UFW with no intention of reaching an agreement covering the wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment for the employees in the collective bargaining unit.”
According to David Schwarz, counsel for Gerawan Farming, “This decision was riddled with legal and factual errors. The most glaring of these errors was the fact that ALJ Schmidt found that Gerawan failed to negotiate when it had already been ordered to [follow] a process [MMC] where traditional give-and-take negotiation had been replaced by government-imposed forced contracting.”
According to an April 17, 2017 Gerawan newss release, “The so-called MMC procedures are neither consensual nor voluntary. It is forced contracting. The ALRB tells the employer what wages to pay, what employees to hire, or fire, or promote, and what portion of the employees’ salary will be turned over to the union. The employer may not opt out and the employees are not given the choice to ratify or reject the so-called contract that will be forced on them, even if there are provisions detrimental to them.”
“There is a fundamental – and constitutional – difference between consensual bargaining and state-compelled contracting,” said Dan Gerawan, president and CEO of Gerawan Farming. “The ALJ obliterates this distinction.”
Gerawan added that MMC does not facilitate negotiations. Rather, it is an imposed agreement by force of law and Gerawan was compelled to abide by it.
Schwarz explained, “Per the ALRB’s own regulations, MMC kicks in only after the Board has certified that further negotiation between the parties would be futile.”
At that point, according to Schwarz, a government-appointed arbitrator steps in, hears evidence from each party, drafts a CBA (or collective bargaining agreement), which the Board approves and imposes on the parties by force of law. Since there is no place for negotiation in this process, Schwarz contends there is no logical or legal basis for ALJ Schmidt to conclude that Gerawan’s conduct during MMC could justify his finding that Gerawan failed to negotiate in good faith with the UFW.
Gerawan Files Motion to Disqualify Member Hall from participating in “Bad Faith” Negotiating Case
On April 28, 2017, Gerawan Farming, Inc. filed a Motion to Disqualify Board Member Isadore Hall from participating in the deliberations in the case above based on documented “sweeping prejudicial” statements Member Hall made against Gerawan.
“Our DQ motion was very compelling,” Dan Gerawan said. “Hall marched specifically against us and our employees and received an endorsement from UFW in return. It’s ridiculous that he was assigned to a job where 90% of his work will be to adjudicate UFW-related issues, and half of his work will be Gerawan-related.”
ALRB Rejects Gerawan’s Motions to Disqualify ALRB Member Hall and to Request a Stay from Participating in “Bad Faith” Negotiating Case
On May 18, 2017, the ALRB rejected Gerawan’s motions to disqualify ALRB member Isadore Hall and to request a stay in order to resolve the motion to disqualify.
“Hall’s disqualification would leave the ALRB without a current valid quorum of three members to hear the case,” Schwarz said, “thus lacking the statutory power to act. The Governor can resolve this issue by simply doing what the ALRA requires him to do – appoint two additional ALRB members, thus bringing the Board to its statutorily-requisite composition, which is five members.”
Gerawan Files Motion for Reconsideration of the Board’s Order Denying Motion to Disqualify Member Hall
On May 23, 2017, Gerawan filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the Board’s Order Denying Motion to Disqualify Member Hall, repeating its request for a stay of the proceedings pending resolution of the motion.
“Gerawan filed this motion for reconsideration both to correct serious legal errors in the Board’s initial decision,” Schwarz said, “and to bring to light new evidence regarding the identity of an individual who participated in a conversation with Mr. Hall in which Mr. Hall stated that he was going to ‘get’ Gerawan once he was a member of the Board. This individual, Mr. Shaun Ramirez, provided a declaration in support of Gerawan’s first motion to disqualify Member Hall. However, Mr. Ramirez and his employer, concerned that the Board (or Mr. Hall) might retaliate against them for speaking out, initially asked that Mr. Ramirez’s identity remain confidential.”
“The Board initially refused to consider Mr. Ramirez’s declaration – precisely because he asked that Gerawan not reveal his name for fear of retaliation. After the Board denied Gerawan’s motion to disqualify Mr. Hall, Mr. Ramirez allowed Gerawan to file an unredacted version of his declaration with this motion for reconsideration. This declaration set out in great detail Mr. Ramirez’s interactions with Mr. Hall and Mr. Hall’s statement, in reference to Gerawan, ‘I am going to get their ass.’”
ALRB Denies Gerawan’s Motion For Reconsideration to Disqualify Board Member Hall from Deliberations in this Case
On June 9, 2017, ALRB denied both Gerawan’s motion for reconsideration to disqualify Board Member Hall from deliberations in the case and Gerawan’s request for reconsideration of an immediate stay of the proceedings.
“As discussed,” Schwarz said, “Gerawan filed a motion for reconsideration with an unredacted version of Mr. Ramirez’s declaration. The Board again refused to consider Mr. Ramirez’s detailed account of his conversation with Member Hall. The Board took the position that it was under no requirement to consider such evidence in a motion for reconsideration, as the declaration was not ‘newly discovered’ or ‘previously unavailable.’ The Board discounted Mr. Ramirez’s reasons for desiring anonymity, and disregarded the merits of his sworn statement, without explaining why the revelation of his identity did not require it to reconsider the basis [the anonymity of the declarant] for disregarding it in the first place.”
“Of equal significance is that Mr. Hall participated in deciding his own disqualification motion,” Schwarz added. “This violates a basic rule of due process and long-standing Board precedent that a member accused of bias cannot decide his own disqualification motion. Instead, Member Hall offered his own statement that he was not biased against Gerawan, albeit without denying or affirming the truth of Mr. Ramirez’s declaration.”
“Unlike Mr. Ramirez,” said Schwarz, “Member Hall’s ‘concurring’ opinion was not under oath.”
In the official ALRB Decision, Hall wrote, “I reject the claims of bias leveled against me by Gerawan and decline to recuse myself from participation in the deliberations in this case.”
In reaction to the Board’s refusal to disqualify Member Hall, Schwarz said, “Gerawan will appeal the Board’s decision. We are confident that this unprecedented and unconstitutional decision will not stand.”
Featured photo: Isadore Hall III marching with UFW prior to ALRB appointment.
Governor Jerry Brown’s appointments to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is causing quite a bit of concern for farmworkers and ag employers alike.
George Radanovich is the President of the California Fresh Fruit Association and a former California congressman who served from 1995 until 2011, representing California’s 19th District. He expressed his disappointment in so many United Farm Workers of America advocates being appointed to the ALRB.
“The board is there to protect the interests of the farmworker. What they’re doing is trying to protect the interests of the United Farm Workers, and that goes completely against what they were created by law to do,” Radanovich said.
William Gould, who was appointed by Governor Brown to chair the ALRB in 2014, announced his resignation recently. In his resignation letter, he noted that during his tenure, only one petition for unionization had come before the board. Gould also previously noted that the board spent more of its time on petitions from workers trying to kick out the UFW, rather than petitions seeking to join the union. That seems pretty telling as to how desirable the UFW is to farm workers.
“The UFW only represents about 2 precent of farmworkers in the state,” Radanovich said. “And the reason is, is because farmworkers are happy with the growers. I mean, there’s a very good relationship there, and they view the UFW as intrusive.”
Radanovich referenced what happened with Gerawan Farms as an illustration of the already problematic relationship between ALRB and the UFW. “Way back in the ’90s, there was a union vote to unionize, and the UFW just sat back and didn’t mobilize. They didn’t unionize the farmworkers. Twenty years later, they walk back into the operation and say, ‘Okay, it takes effect now.’ Where would that happen anywhere else?” Radanovich said.
The Gerawan workers decided to have a new election, with a majority of workers expressing their disinterest in joining the UFW. However, those votes were never officially counted.
“They refused to count the votes because it’s real obvious that they’re going to lose, the union would. So the ALRB says, ‘Well, we just won’t count the votes,’ ” Radanovich explained.
According to him, the employment landscape has changed dramatically since the establishment of the UFW in 1962, essentially making the UFW obsolete. “The reason UFW is so weak and they can’t get membership is because the farmworker is pretty well off today having a good relationship with their employer, and that’s better than union status. The farmworker really is in a better position if he’s got a good relationship with the grower, which accounts for about 90 percent of what’s out there in ag labor today,” Radanovich said.
Radanovich is also a wine grape grower in Mariposa and has a first-hand understanding of just how hardworking and appreciated farmworkers are. “Growers know that if they don’t take care of their farmworkers, there’s going to be nobody there to pick the fruit. So there’s a natural inclination for the farmer to want to take care of the farmworker. And none of that is accounted for in the way that the ALRB implements these rules.”
The ALRB is designed to be a neutral organization, but filling it with so many UFW sympathizers appears to be a significant conflict of interest. “It’s really unjust. The ALRB is not there to promote union membership; they’re there to protect the farmworker and I think they’ve lost their focus. … I mean, you only need a union in there if the grower has failed the farmworker and that’s not happening,” Radanovich said. “They’re taking good care of their farmworkers and giving them opportunity and providing them a living at the prevailing wage.”
California Assembly Sends AB 1066 Overtime Bill to Governor
By Patrick Cavanaugh Farm News Director
The California Assembly voted 44 to 32, yesterday, August 29, in favor of a bill that would make California the first in the country to give farmworkers overtime pay after working 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week instead of current law that mandates agriculture workers earn overtime after 10 hours per day or 60 hours per week.
Because farmworkers are unable to work some days due to weather or harvest schedules, they have historically preferred to work as many hours as possible on any given day. Now farmers may be forced to restrict employees from working more than 8 hours per day to avoid the costly overtime payroll, which would severely hurt their financial bottom line.
The bill, which has already cleared the State Senate, now moves on to Governor Jerry Brown, who has until September 31st to sign or veto the bill.
George Radanovich, president of the Fresno-basedCalifornia Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) that represents many farmers who rely on hand labor, stated, “It’s a clear example of people who live on black top and cement and who never talk to people in the vineyards or in the fields. They think they are helping the farmworker, and they are not. They’re making it harder for the farmworker and for the farmer,” said Radanovich.
“There isn’t anybody out there who wouldn’t want to pay the workers more than what they’re getting today, or even that overtime,” said Isom. “But consider that California is one of only 5 states that even pays overtime, and none of them pay it after only 10 hours. We already had the most stringent overtime regulations for farmworkers in the country before it was ever adopted. Now, we’ve made it worse; we are going to have the highest minimum wage of any farm state out there, so how do we compete?”
Isom commented, “This last week, U.S. Secretary of AgricultureTom Vilsack was actually calling Assembly members in the State, urging them to support this bill. We were outraged,” Isom said. “When he was Governor of the State of Iowa, his own state had the lowest Ag wages and has no Ag overtime. The majority of our states, 45 states, have no overtime. You could work 16 hours, 20 hours, and not be paid any overtime.”
Isom noted that supporters of AB 1066 are very shortsighted. He predicts the law will only reduce the number of available working hours available for farm employees and thus decrease their earnings. Isom hopes Governor Brown will see this bill as an added negative impact tied to the recently passed increases to California’s minimum wage.
Agriculture leaders are calling for all concerned to put pressure on Governor Brown to veto AB 1066 by Emailing or phoning constantly.
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-2841 Fax: (916) 558-3160
(Featured photo: Roger Isom, president of Western Ag Processors Association and the California Cotton Ginners Association)
CA Agricultural Leadership Transitions: Barry Bedwell to Head CALF, George Radanovich to Lead CFFA
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
There is a change in leadership at the Fresno-based California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA), where Barry Bedwell has served as president for 13 years. The new president, as of August 1st, is former eight-term member of Congress for Mariposa County, George Radanovich, “and a five-year retiree in Mariposa, too,” said Radanovich.
“Don’t forget to add that,” he insisted. “Yes, the opportunity came up. My son King graduated from high school, and now he’s off to college at Ole Miss. This gives me the time to get back and start working on water and labor issues that I love—and being involved with the ag industry. The timing is perfect, and it’s a real exciting adventure for me.”
Radanovich served in Congress from 1995 to 2011, representing a big chunk of the Central Valley in California’s 19th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. While there, he served on the Committee on Energy and Commerce and its subcommittees: Communications, Technology and the Internet, Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection (Ranking Member) and Oversight and Investigations. Radanovich also served as co-chair of the Water Caucus, Congressional Wine Caucus and Congressional Croatian Caucus, as well as being considered an agricultural expert in areas related to water supply and immigration reform.
Barry Bedwell will now assume presidency of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation (CALF), a non-profit corporation committed to leadership training and transformational learning experiences in partnership with California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo and Pomona; California State University, Fresno; and the University of California, Davis.
“I am excited about it,” Bedwell said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for myself and a chance to really take what I’ve learned over four plus decades in California agriculture and put it to good and practical use.”
Bedwell will be replacing Bob Gray at the Agricultural Leadership Foundation. “Bob Gray has done an absolutely fantastic job in really focusing the program more on leadership development,” noted Bedwell. “It is really doing personal coaching and working on leadership tendencies. When I was there thirty-four years ago in Class 13, the foundation tried to expose people in agriculture to things outside of the realm of agriculture; but now, they’ve taken it even a step further to say, ‘Here’s how to make you a better leader. Here is how to really strengthen your areas so that in the end, everyone coming out of this program will be a better person and representative for California agriculture.'”
“The program has changed from 24 months down to 17 months, but it’s still a very valuable proposition,” noted Bedwell. “I think the estimated monetary value of what this means to the individuals involved is something like $50,000,” he said.
Bedwell brings to CALF a depth of experience in agriculture. “How do you develop the Leadership Program for maximum benefit?” asked Bedwell. “That’s where I think I can particularly help, knowing the issues that face California agriculture and what we have to deal with primarily in Sacramento. I think that will be a big help.”
Bedwell also emphasized the importance of keeping CALF alumni engaged. “With over 1300 graduates, this program is a powerful force out there,” he said. “We want to continue to build on what we have, and engagement with those alumni is critical, moving forward,” said Bedwell.
And perhaps certain alumni could be the new messengers to Sacramento. “What’s clear right now is we don’t necessarily have the right messengers. This Ag Overtime bill [AB-2757 Agricultural workers: wages, hours, and working conditions], which was reintroduced after failing in the Assembly a few weeks ago, has convinced me that although we went in and explained the negative impact it would have on employees, quite frankly, certain members did not believe us,” said Bedwell.
“We have to change the messenger, or the message gets lost sometimes,” Bedwell commented. “So that’s part of what we have to think about in looking at the future. We say the right things, but they are not getting through, so now we have to figure out how we get through,” Bedwell said.