Latina’s Election A Sign Of The Times [Opinion]

david eddy 2015 Web Featured ImageIn case you missed the story on page 21 of this issue, the California Strawberry Commission announced the election of Lorena Chavez to the role of commission chairwoman, in what is believed to be the first election of a Latina to a major commodity group in the state.

Chavez was elected unanimously to the position by members of the Strawberry Commission, and will serve alongside Vice Chairman Tom AmRhein and Secretary/Treasurer Hector Gutierrez.

The California Strawberry Commission is a state government agency located in Watsonville, CA, that serves approximately 400 strawberry growers across the state, focusing on production and nutrition research, food safety training and education, marketing and communications, trade relations, and public policy.

In a press release issued by the commission upon her election, Rick Tomlinson, the commission’s president was quoted as saying, “Lorena Chavez embodies everything positive that strawberries represent to California. Her family’s personal story is a prime example of how immigrants have found opportunity and a path to achieving the American Dream through hard work in California’s strawberry fields.”

When I got the press release, I was really surprised. California has the reputation of being liberal, probably because of the Hollywood movie business. But in my experience, most of the growers in the Golden State are much like their fellow growers across the country – politically, they definitely lean conservative.

But in talking to people in the industry, the more surprised I became. Not by the fact that Chavez was elected, but by growers’ reactions, which can best be described as one big shrug.

For one thing, it’s not like Chavez is some outsider. In addition to her new role as commission chairwoman, she is also controller of family-owned L&G Farming in Santa Monica, CA, and owner and operator of DL Farm Management in Santa Maria, CA.

She was pretty much raised in the industry by her father. Chavez didn’t really work in the fields, mostly the office, but that’s no surprise. Many of the growers who head up large, successful farming operations spend a lot more time in the office than they do the orchards or vineyards.

Still, most of you growers are white men, and as a group average close to 60 years old. So, like I said, I was surprised that all the growers and others affiliated with the fruit industry I spoke to not only weren’t surprised, they didn’t even find Chavez’s election remarkable.

That’s a really good sign to me. There’s no secret that farming, often described by so-called environmentalists as “corporate agribusiness” or the like, has something of a public relations problem.

Seeing a Hispanic woman leading the California Strawberry Commission should help with that PR problem. She is reflective of the general population of the U.S., especially California, and people are more comfortable with people who look like them.

But besides all that, Chavez’s election is reflective of the face of fruit growing. It is changing, and it’s all good. ●

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

Berries Stories
Berries
April 26, 2017
Tips To Manage Winter-Damaged Blueberries
While low-chill varieties in Southern states may have experienced freeze damage for the second year in a row, giving those plants extra care will help ensure a good start to the 2018 growing season. Read More
The Hill family of Southern Hill Farms in Florida
Berries
April 13, 2017
Florida Farming Family Staying on Top of the Blueberry Game
The Hill family of Southern Hill Farms continues to up their efforts to diversify business and stay out ahead of a competitive market. Read More
Berries
April 10, 2017
North Carolina Blueberry Crop Still Kicking
Thanks to pruning cuts and a diverse mix of cultivars, the majority of the crop survived a series of March freezes. Read More
Closeup of Florida blueberries
Berries
April 6, 2017
Study Shows Bumblebees Can Boost Blueberry Yield Big Time
UF/IFAS researchers find placing hives of the distinct pollinator in the field pumps up output by 70%. Read More
Berries
March 30, 2017
Chateau Herbicide SW Now Registered for Use in Citrus, Caneberries
Broad spectrum preemergent herbicide to control broadleaf and grasses. Read More
SWD On Raspberry
Berries
March 26, 2017
Outsmarting SWD with Social Media
Entomologist in Kentucky uses social media for pest updates, trap catches. Read More
Freeze protected blueberry bushes in Florida
Berries
March 25, 2017
Florida Blueberry Crop Escapes Slap from Late-Season Cold Snap
Freeze protection tactics prove fruitful as local producers look to gain from Georgia’s loss. Read More
Frozen blueberries
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Growers the Chills
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
Growers boot up drone technology on the farm
Berries
March 3, 2017
Specialty Crops Primed for Precision Agriculture
Employing the latest horticultural technology tools could have substantial financial benefits for producers of hand-picked specialty crops, according to a new research paper. Read More
Berries
March 2, 2017
Pruning Pointers for Dormant Care of Berries
If you haven’t started pruning your berries, it’s time you do. Read More
Berries
February 26, 2017
Advantages to Growing Southern Highbush Blueberries
Growers in some regions where temperatures don’t get too low could consider the benefits of Southern highbush varieties. Read More
Berries
February 23, 2017
Primocane: A Major Innovation in Berry Production
I’ve witnessed the rise of primocane-fruiting blackberries, from first selections to integration in the market. Read More
2017 Florida Strawberry Picking Challenge winners
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big Winner for Charity
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Registration area at the 2017 Florida Blueberry Growers Association Spring Meeting
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a Comeback
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Wish Farms mega strawberry donation
Berries
February 14, 2017
Wish Farms Shows Love With Super-Sized Strawberry Donation
More than 4,000 pounds of locally grown produce from Central Florida farming operation goes to help feed needy families in the Tampa area. Read More
The Latest
Berries
May 15, 2017
Grower Comments on Pyrethroids Being Sou…
Comment period on popular class of insecticides opens today. Read More
Berries
May 4, 2017
Florida Farming Pioneer Still Making the…
Alto Straughn presented with University of Florida’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. Read More
Berries
May 2, 2017
Southeastern Strawberry Growers Advised …
Recent rain is conducive to the main strawberry fruit rot diseases, according to the chief of the Southern Region IPM Center. Read More
Berries
April 26, 2017
Tips To Manage Winter-Damaged Blueberrie…
While low-chill varieties in Southern states may have experienced freeze damage for the second year in a row, giving those plants extra care will help ensure a good start to the 2018 growing season. Read More
Berries
April 13, 2017
Florida Farming Family Staying on Top of…
The Hill family of Southern Hill Farms continues to up their efforts to diversify business and stay out ahead of a competitive market. Read More
Berries
April 10, 2017
North Carolina Blueberry Crop Still Kick…
Thanks to pruning cuts and a diverse mix of cultivars, the majority of the crop survived a series of March freezes. Read More
Berries
April 6, 2017
Study Shows Bumblebees Can Boost Blueber…
UF/IFAS researchers find placing hives of the distinct pollinator in the field pumps up output by 70%. Read More
Berries
March 30, 2017
Chateau Herbicide SW Now Registered for …
Broad spectrum preemergent herbicide to control broadleaf and grasses. Read More
Berries
March 26, 2017
Outsmarting SWD with Social Media
Entomologist in Kentucky uses social media for pest updates, trap catches. Read More
Berries
March 25, 2017
Florida Blueberry Crop Escapes Slap from…
Freeze protection tactics prove fruitful as local producers look to gain from Georgia’s loss. Read More
Berries
March 15, 2017
Arctic Blast Gives Southern Fruit Grower…
Peaches and berries in bloom most at risk from freezing temperatures. Read More
Berries
March 3, 2017
Specialty Crops Primed for Precision Agr…
Employing the latest horticultural technology tools could have substantial financial benefits for producers of hand-picked specialty crops, according to a new research paper. Read More
Berries
March 2, 2017
Pruning Pointers for Dormant Care of Ber…
If you haven’t started pruning your berries, it’s time you do. Read More
Berries
February 26, 2017
Advantages to Growing Southern Highbush …
Growers in some regions where temperatures don’t get too low could consider the benefits of Southern highbush varieties. Read More
Berries
February 23, 2017
Primocane: A Major Innovation in Berry P…
I’ve witnessed the rise of primocane-fruiting blackberries, from first selections to integration in the market. Read More
Berries
February 22, 2017
Florida Strawberry Picking Contest a Big…
Fourth-annual fundraising event brings in more than $100,000 to benefit children of local farmworkers. Read More
Berries
February 17, 2017
Florida Blueberry Growers Counting on a …
With last season's disaster in the rear view, all eyes are searching for bluer skies. Read More
Berries
February 14, 2017
Wish Farms Shows Love With Super-Sized S…
More than 4,000 pounds of locally grown produce from Central Florida farming operation goes to help feed needy families in the Tampa area. Read More