In The News

State Food and Agriculture Secretary Meets with Imperial Valley Growers

The secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture told Imperial Valley growers and officials Wednesday that her agency continues to work to keep agriculture viable in California.

At a luncheon sponsored by Farm Credit Services Southwest in Imperial, Karen Ross discussed efforts the state is doing to address key issues such as food safety, labor issues, and the cost of doing business in the Golden State.

"I always appreciate the opportunity to meet with farmers in their local communities," said Secretary Ross. "Imperial County is a vital piece of California's $50 billion agriculture industry. It is important for me to see first-hand all aspects of the industry in this part of the state and to meet with organizations like Farm Credit that serve critical roles in our rural communities."

It was Ross’ second visit this year to the Imperial Valley, said Farm Credit Senior Vice President William Collins, and was a great opportunity for the region’s farming community to get an update on important issues facing growers here and around the state.

More than 100 growers, farm organization leaders, and elected officials attended the event at the Farm Credit Agricultural Center, along with FFA students from three area high schools.

Before the meeting, Ross toured the Five Crowns Marketing corn processing facility in Brawley, where company officials discussed food safety, transportation costs, and regulatory issues with the secretary.

Organizations participating in the meetings included the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association, IVH20, the Imperial County Farm Bureau and the Imperial Irrigation District.

Ross was appointed CDFA secretary in early 2011 by Gov. Jerry Brown. Her family has been Nebraska farmers for several generations. She served as vice president of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996 and then president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996-2009, when she was named chief of staff for then-U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.