Farming Should Be Honored

National Policy Needed for Farming

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently interviewed Peterangelo Vallis, our ambassador for agriculture, about changes needed for farming. He is also the executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association.

According to him, the government has a track record on the inability to get things done, and that includes projects that impact agriculture.

“Now in America, we have huge problems getting things done, building buildings, building dams, building rails, building infrastructure and building anything,” Vallis said.

“There is no national day or any local goals and objectives. We are not hearing anything to meet those goals and objectives,” he said. “I’m suggesting that there needs to be a state and national policy for farming.”

Food Narrative Should Trump Fish

Reframing Farming with a Food Narrative

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Peterangelo Vallis is California Ag Today’s Ambassador for Agriculture. He’s also the executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Wine Growers Association. He spoke recently on the need for increased water conservation by growers and cities in a multi-year drought. He also noted the need for a food narrative.

“That’s what we have done. We had to do that over the last few years. I mean, it’s not uncommon for there to be a wet year in the middle of a multi-year drought,” Vallis said. “Let’s face it. We’re clearly in a multi-year drought, and fortunately, there are water supplies, so it’s probably not going to be as bad this year as it was a couple years ago, but that’s not going to feel great especially with permanent crop agriculture. You got make sure you have a consistent supply of water going year-round at a time.”

Vallis said the Delta area water situation needs to be reframed with a food narrative.

“Let’s stop blaming a small fish and let’s start putting the blame where it really belongs with the inability for all of us to come together and come up with some sort of solution,” Vallis said.

“I mean fish is a nice scapegoat, and it’s a great talking point, but it clearly hasn’t been doing better with water restrictions to growers. The problem is that we haven’t been framing the conversation in a way that really puts us in the best light, and we’ve got to do that because nobody is going to say that fish is more important than farmers,” Vallis said. “Realistically when someone insinuates that, they just look silly because everybody knows that we need to eat and we need to be able to provide food for people.”

“What the problem is when we start adding things to the conversation, yawn on facts and we start appealing to emotion. Everybody can figure out something that’s more important than something else. It’s just a form of what needs to happen in a normal society,” he said.

Celebrating California Agriculture . . .A Farmer Can Be The Cowboy, Buying Everybody Drinks

Peterangelo Vallis Offers Advice on How Farmers Can Connect with Public

By Patrick  Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Wine Growers Association based in Fresno.  He says if you were to go around the world and see how farmers interact with the public, you would observe their interactions are different in other countries than here in California.

“Especially if you go to Europe, agriculture is pervasive in the countryside. If you have a city, automatically you’re going to have farmland around it,” Vallis said. “It’s a little different than what we have in California, where you have urban spaces, some desert, mountains and then you tend to have agriculture, but realistically the core portion’s the same.

Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Wine Growers Association
Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Wine Growers Association

“If you go to France or Italy, your main business is agriculture. Farmers are not looked at as being different somehow. They are looked at as businessmen who happen to make the food that we’re serving on the table, you’re buying at the store or the restaurateur is preparing for you to enjoy,” he said.

There, they think about the farmer—the agriculturalist, who brings that food to them as “filling up your happy, cheese-loving belly. That’s something that we are totally missing in this country because, by and large, our rural populations are removed from our urban populations,” Vallis said.

california saloon, Peterangelo Vallis“As a result, that’s on us, with our own PR for our own businesses—to come into town and make a place for ourselves. . . show ourselves off so that people recognize when we come in and are thinking about us when we’re not there.”

“It’s just like in the Old West. No one worried about the guy that slunk in the back door of the saloon and just sat there with his hat down hoping no one would shoot at him. But everyone knew the guy with the black hat who walked right through the front door into the middle of the bar, said hello and bought everyone drinks. That’s us!” Vallis said.

Celebrating California Agriculture

Celebrating California Agriculture – A Refreshing Perspective

By Laurie Greene, Editor

Peterangelo Vallis is the executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association based in Kingsburg, CA. Today, he discusses the great care farmers put into their land.

“Hey, we don’t make any more land. God gave us a green earth. That is what we’ve got, and we live in the best possible place to grow virtually anything,” said Vallis.

peterangelo_vallis-side_shot-celebrating-california-agriculture
Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of San Joaquin Valley Winegrape Growers Association.

“In most cases, anything that has been farmed here in California has been farmed for a hundred years. The soil is better now than it was naturally because we are taking better care of it. We’re putting more natural green material back into the ground,” Vallis explained. 

“We are stewards of the land, and we have to be cognizant of that. We have to publicize that fact because farmers are the best people at caring for the land,” he said.

“I think oftentimes we are so busy caring for the land, we don’t do as good of a job pumping our chest up to everyone, going, ‘Hey! You know what? You come try to do this. You try to do it half as good as me, ‘because I’ve learned things from school. I’ve learned things from my family. I’ve learned things from generations. I’ve learned things just because I’m here doing my job and watching out,” Vallis said.

Vallis believes we need to widen the conversation and tell more people that farmers do the things they need to do; they do the things that benefit all society.

“We are proud of what we are doing. You know what? People who eat are the direct beneficiaries. Everyone who opens a can of beans. Everyone who goes and gets some lettuce out of the fridge. Everyone who eats beef, chicken or any other meat benefits from our taking care of the land to continue to produce,” he said.

“No farmer I know and no farmer I have ever met actively goes out and poisons our land, because then they can’t make food. Making food is what we are called to do.”

Celebrating California Agriculture . . . on World Vegan Day!

Celebrate World Vegan Day!

Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of the Fresno-based San Joaquin Valley Wine Growers Association, has an insightful viewpoint on California agriculture. That’s why California Ag Today considers him to be our Ambassador of Agriculture, and we’re glad he’s on our team.

In Celebration of World Vegan Day, Peterangelo Vallis addressed the need for California farmers to think about and engage with all the people who eat fruits and vegetables, including vegans*, environmentalists and fringe groups:

Yellow Bell Peppers, world vegan day

Well, vegans and environmentalists eat more fruits and vegetables than anybody. Guess what we make?

Look, I love a juicy steak, the same as most people. But frankly, most of my plate is vegetables. If somebody is buying something, they’re buying vegetables, and they want fresh vegetables. Vegans can get those in California, because they’re close enough to us. Let’s face it, these are highly perishable items and they’re going out there. Yet, we tend to vilify the same people that are paying our bills by buying our stuff.

Criticizing vegans is crazy. You don’t see Louis Vuitton making fun of middle-aged women. It’s just not what happens because they want you to buy more bags.

Big Vegetable Bin, world vegan day

Everybody eats fruits and vegetables. If they don’t, they should, and vegans are just an extra boon to California Agriculture. Look, people eat fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese, meat, everything. Without people eating, we don’t have jobs. The more population growth, the more people who need to eat. These are our customers.

We do a terrific job of turning [vegans] off to us. Look, we should be their favorite people and favorite sub-set of the population. We help keep them alive and healthy, and with shiny hair and good skin, because they’re eating all of our ridiculously safe and clean foods that you really can’t get anywhere else in the hemisphere.


*According to the Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition’s, “The Vegetarian Food Pyramid,” Vegetarian is a broad term meaning a diet that excludes meat, fish and poultry. Vegans are vegetarians who do not consume any dairy products, eggs or animal flesh.

Celebrating California Agriculture . . .  An Ongoing Series: Marketing

Marketing, Almond Board Style

A Rallying Cry for Ag PR on Billboards

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Celebrating California Agriculture is a refreshing perspective. In an ongoing series on CaliforniaAgToday.comPeterangelo Vallis, executive director of the Fresno-based San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association (SJVWA), shares his optimistic viewpoint on California agriculture. In our original article, “Celebrating California Agriculture . . .  An Ongoing Series,” published on September 13, 2016, Vallis offered this goal:

SAN Joaquin Valley  Winegrowers Association, (sjvwa) logo“This is basic, basic stuff because, realistically, we’re marketing the fact that we need help to make more food,” Vallis noted. “We’re making safe domestic food, but if we don’t engage with the people that are our customers, we’re never going to be able to get our ideas and our needs across, because we’re just not talking to the right audience.”

“They’re not enough people here in the valley to move the needle. We’ve got to figure out a way to get San Francisco and L.A. appreciating our position, loving what we do, and trusting that we’re doing the very best job possible,” said Vallis.

Vallis is urging California agriculture “to put some dollars together for a major billboard campaign in Los Angeles and in the Bay Area, celebrating our agricultural industry as part of a big PR campaign.”

Almond Board of California, marketing almond board style“Just imagine,” Vallis suggested, “the power of billboards with California farmers and the fruits, nuts or vegetables they produce. The billboard could be up in prime city areas for several months for less than a few million dollars.”

Vallis commended the Almond Board of California for their example of a great starting point. “You know, the Almond Board of California (Board), I think, represents the most progressive part of California agriculture today because the Board understands how much money it takes to penetrate the market. We’re not living in 1932; we need to spend money on this stuff. I mean what does a Super Bowl commercial cost—6-7 million dollars for 30 seconds? It’s an insane amount of money, but that’s what it takes to really move the needle.”

“Billboards around the California’s urban centers or even across the nation, could carry the message of the importance of the California

ALMOND SUSTAINABILITY ECOSYSTEM (Almond Board of California, AlmondSustainability.org), Celebrating California Agriculture
ALMOND SUSTAINABILITY ECOSYSTEM (Almond Board of California, AlmondSustainability.org)

farmer,” Vallis proposed. “We could campaign on every billboard in America for one month and call it, ‘Hey, We Like to Eat Month’ or ‘Your Stomach Depends On Ag,’” noted Vallis.

“The message must connect with people,” Vallis insisted. “It would probably cost 20 or 30 million just to make that happen, but if you look at the success the Almond Board has had, that is a perfect pathway—a perfect roadmap—for what all of us in California can do at pennies per pound,” he said.

“There are some commodities that don’t make pennies per pound; but on the whole, a couple pennies per pound, put in the right space and put in front of people … Guess what? They’re going to go nuts over the product. Look what almonds have done. If that isn’t a rallying cry for what could happen. . . it would be killer! And it would be killer for our industry,” Vallis said.

Celebrating California Agriculture . . .

Celebrating California Agriculture . . .  An Ongoing Series

 

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Celebrating California agriculture is a refreshing perspective. Peterangelo Vallis, executive director of the Fresno-based San Joaquin Valley Winegrowers Association, has an astute viewpoint on California agriculture. Vallis said, foundationally, consumers loves farmers—unless those consumers have been exposed to oppositional or politicized messagingbut most have not been.

“You go talk to any random person in any city,” said Vallis. “If they’re not politicized, which most people aren’t, they are just trying to live their lives, eat their food and rear their children. And they love farmers because farmers make food,” Vallis said.

blue-diamond-a-can-a-week-is-all-we-ask
(Photo Source: Blue Diamond Growers)

“What have been some of the most effective agricultural campaigns in the country? Wendy’s ‘Where’s the Beef?’ Blue Diamond almonds, ‘A Can A Week, That’s All We Ask.’ These ads humanize who we are talking about.”

“How about the California Dancing Raisins? That was huge,” noted Vallis.  “Everyone in any part of the country remembers those raisins. That’s positive PR. That was positive recognition for Ag. We’ve got to be doing more of that.”

congress-created-dust-bowl Billboard on CA SR 99

Vallis advocates more positive PR, but says we need to take a different approach. “Instead of all these billboards running up and down [State Route] 99 that make us look like vigilantes with pitchforks, we need to take whatever money that took, buy some billboards in L.A. and San Francisco, Washington D.C., and New York with some happy kids, with a bowl full of veggies saying, “Thanks, mom! This was great!”

“This is basic, basic stuff because, realistically, we’re marketing the fact that we need help to make more food,” Vallis noted. “We’re making safe domestic food, but if we don’t engage with the people that are our customers, we’re never going to be able to get our ideas and our needs across, because we’re just not talking to the right audience.”

Statewide Drought Forces Californians To Take Drastic Measures For Water Conversation

“They’re not enough people here in the valley to move the needle. We’ve got to figure out a way to get San Francisco and L.A. appreciating our position, loving what we do, and trusting that we’re doing the very best job possible,” said Vallis.