Cultivating a Century
visalia – In 1917, the Tulare County farming community — consisting of 850 small farmers — banded together and charged themselves dues to create an organization that would promote, protect and propagate their industry. Now 100 years later, the Tulare County Farm Bureau is still taking time to thank them for their kindness, commitment and cooperation.
Last night, May 2, the Farm Bureau held its 100th annual dinner at the Heritage Complex in Tulare, Calif. to celebrate its members and leaders with the following major awards: the Agriculturalist of the Year Award, Service to Farm Bureau, Friend of Farm Bureau, Agricultural Business of the Year, Special Recognition, and Educator of the Year; along with graduating the 32nd class of youth leaders and awarding over $16,000 in local scholarships to deserving students. Being honored this year with major awards are:
Agriculturalist of the Year
Gary and Anne Hester, who own Hester Orchards south of Farmersville, were honored as this year’s Agriculturalist of the Year. The Farm Bureau’s highest honor recognizes leaders in our community who give tremendous support to the Farm Bureau through leadership, generosity, and service to the organization. The Hester family represents the backbone of our industry, a hard working family that has poured great devotion into building a successful family farming enterprise from blood, sweat, and hard work. Gary has served as Past President of the Farm Bureau, and his family has been members for several generations. Both Gary and Anne have provided countless hours of support, years of devotion and service to Farm Bureau committees, advisory roles with the youth leadership program, and supporting the annual fundraiser host committee. They are very involved in rural crime prevention and have taken a very active role in helping deter nut theft thru their leadership in the industry.
Service to Farm Bureau Award
John Gamper retired in February 2017 from 39 years of service to the California Farm Bureau Federation. John was the Director of Taxation and Land Use for CFBF and throughout that time and has been the unchallenged leader in the protection of farm and ranch land in California. His expertise on the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (Williamson Act) is unparalleled. It is without question that other interests groups in agriculture have looked to John for his leadership in this arena. John also has served the agriculture industry on other tax and state budget issues and he applied his institutional knowledge in this area on behalf of TCFB’s membership.
Friend of Farm Bureau Award
Patrick Taylor and Paul Williams, with State Compensation Insurance Fund, which has been partners to the Farm Bureau for decades received this year’s Friend of Farm Bureau honor for their many years of service and support of the agriculture community. Patrick and Paul are loss control consultants to State Fund and have been local foot soldiers working with farm accounts for decades helping protect worker safety and control risk management concerns at agribusinesses throughout Tulare County. Taylor and Williams have been involved with hosting nut and cotton harvest safety training events for over 30 years, and have been a tremendous asset and partner to the Farm Bureau in their work.
Agricultural Business of the Year
Willitts Pump Company north of Exeter was named Agricultural Business of the Year, for their dedicated service to the agricultural community, and their philanthropic support of many local organizations and the Farm Bureau. Each year Tulare County Farm Bureau honors a local business that has shown extraordinary support to Farm Bureau and the agricultural community. This year that honor is bestowed upon a company who is tremendously supportive of the local farming community. Willitts Equipment Company (also called Willitts Pump Company) is a partner and friend to the Farm Bureau organization in so many ways through countless sponsorships, and attendance at special events.