EconAlliance is a non-profit cross-industry alliance that fosters awareness, advocacy, support and appreciation for Northern Santa Barbara County industries and communities.

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EconAlliance Ag Forum 2020

February 6, 2020

Keynote Speaker: Steven Censky, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Featuring: Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture


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Event Recap

The EconAlliance 2020 “Growing Possibilities” Ag Forum featured USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross, providing the national and state perspective on agriculture, with Santa Barbara County Ag Commissioner Kathy Fisher presenting a County update. California Leafy Greens Marketing Association (LFGMA) CEO Scott Horsfall gave a presentation entitled “The Art and Science of Food Safety”.

Always a highlight of the EconAlliance Ag Forum is a panel of local ag sector representatives sharing some of the opportunities and challenges they face. This year’s panel was moderated by Allan Hancock College Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers and panelists included:

Claire Wineman, President, Grower-Shippers Assn., Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties

John DeFriel, CEO, Central Coast Agriculture

Larry Ferini, President/Owner, Rancho Laguna Farms

Jeff Newton, President/CEO, Coastal Vineyard Care

A unique element of the 2020 Ag Forum was EconAlliance recognition of the 100th Anniversary of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, with plaque presented to Farm Bureau’s Kevin Merrill, Board Member, and Teri Bontrager, Executive Director, by CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.

As always, the EconAlliance Ag Forum committee selected a sector to honor. This year’s sector was cattle ranching, and the Santa Barbara County cattle ranching families honored (referred by Santa Barbara Cattlemen’s Assn) were those with 80+ years in the business. This year’s sector recognition was facilitated by Paul Righetti.

Planning committee members for the 2020 EconAlliance Ag Forum included chairman George Adam, President, Innovative Produce (EconAlliance Ag Initiative Lead); Holly Nolan-Chavez, Regional Director, Ag Water and Environmental Technologies, Allan Hancock College; Claire Wineman, President, Grower-Shippers Association, Santa Barbara and SLO Counties; Les Graulich, CFO, Plantel Nurseries; Paul Righetti, rancher and co-owner, Far Western Tavern, and Terri Lee Coleman, TLC Consulting. EconAlliance Board and Ag Forum Planning Committee members included Patrice Mosby, VP, Wells Fargo; and Phil Adam, COO, EconAlliance. Victoria Conner, Initiatives Director, EconAlliance, served as event manager.

Photos from the Event

Andy Rice (L) and Jon Cossa (Photo: Luis Escobar)

EconAlliance Board Members Steve Pepe and Patrice Mosby (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Brian Boersma, FCW and Les Graulich  (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Cathy Fisher, SB County Agriculture Commissioner  (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Cattlemen Family Awardees  (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Karen Ross, CDFA Secretary with Terri Bontrager, SB County Farm Bureau Executive Director and Kevin Merrill, Farm Bureau Board Member (Photo: Luis Escobar)

 FFA Students with USDA Deputy Secretary Censky (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Holly Nolan-Chavez, Allan Hancock College and Gary Troester, USDA (Photo: Luis Escobar)

 Jeff Newton presents (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Joe Halsell, EconAlliance President and Bob Nelson, candidate for SB County 4th District Supervisor (Photo: Luis Escobar)

 John DeFriel (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Keynote Speaker, Steven Censky, Deputy Secretary, USDA (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Panelist Larry Ferini (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Joan Hartmann, SB County 3rd District Supervisor and Claire Wineman, President, Grower-Shipper Association of SB and SLO Counties (Photo: Luis Escobar)

Ag Forum Chair George Adam (Photo: Luis Escobar)


The Ag Forum drew a great audience to the Santa Maria Fairpark (Photo: Luis Escobar)


Thank You to Event Sponsors!


Video: Highlights of 2014-2020 EconAlliance Ag Forums

(Find a larger version here on this site or EA's Vimeo Site here)

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