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 . . .  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.