December 11, 2013

Wenger remains state Farm Bureau chief

Modesto-area nut grower Paul Wenger won re-election Wednesday as president of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Modesto-area nut grower Paul Wenger won re-election Wednesday as president of the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Delegates at the 95th annual meeting in Monterey voted unanimously to give Wenger a third two-year term at the helm of the state’s largest farm group.

“I can’t think of anything more humbling than to work for people that I respect like I respect all of you,” Wenger told the audience. “We’ll make sure to double down and over the next two years do as much as we can to support, protect and promote this great industry and all of you.”

Wenger, 58, grows walnuts and almonds in the Wood Colony area west of Modesto, where his family settled in 1910. He was elected second vice president of the Farm Bureau in 1997 and moved up to first vice president in 2005 and president in 2009.

The post makes Wenger one of the state’s most visible players in discussions about water, exports, labor, and other issues facing farmers and ranchers.

He is the first president from the Northern San Joaquin Valley since the late Henry Voss, a Ceres-area grower who led the state Farm Bureau for eight years in the 1980s before becoming California’s secretary of food and agriculture.

Wenger has been president of the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau and served on the Salida Volunteer Fire Department, the Hart-Ransom School District board of trustees and the Stanislaus Land Trust and Agricultural Pavilion boards.

Delegates also re-elected Kenny Watkins of San Joaquin County as first vice president. He raises beef cattle, walnuts and hay in the Linden area. Jamie Johansson, an olive grower near Oroville, continues as second vice president.

The federation has nearly 78,000 members in 53 county farm bureaus. It is part of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which has about 6.2 million members.

Other news from the annual meeting:

• The Golden State Award, given to the county farm bureau with the best body of work during the year, went to San Joaquin. The judges noted its farmer training, advocacy, youth education and other efforts.
• Two Modesto-area people, Ashley Bush and Toni Ann Fischer, were among the 10 graduates of the annual Leadership Farm Bureau training program. Bush is a sales representative for Mycogen Seeds and chairwoman of the Stanislaus County Young Farmers and Ranchers. Fischer is a cattle rancher, an accounting assistant for the Calaveras County Office of Education and president of the Calaveras County Farm Bureau.

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