CA Agriculture Secretary Visits Chico State Farm

Feb 25, 2014 8:16 PM

California's agriculture secretary paid a visit to the Chico State University farm today.

Two weeks ago, Secretary Karen Ross met with the President in Fresno.

Today, she was in Chico, talking about her role in dealing with the drought and why now is no better time to be an agricultural major.

While the rest of the state, even the country may see their opportunities literally drying up, Chico state agricultural majors have a real passion and know we'll see this drought through.

Like Bailey, an Ag business major.

“[I]basically just learn how to keep agriculture thriving, how to become more efficient,” Bailey Hagata said.

She is the fourth generation of a cattle ranch in Susanville, where her parents are currently struggling.

“You know there's just not enough water,” Hagata said. “If there's not enough water, you're not growing enough feed, if there's not feed you can't feed your cows, you can't sell your product.”

But after graduation, she plans on heading back not just to help, but turn her family's operation into a pasture to plate business.

Bailey said it’s a perfect time to be an Ag major.

“The average farmer/rancher is over 55 years of age, so it's prime time for the young people who want to get involved,” Hagata said.

Speaking on a tour of the university farm, California's Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross agreed.

“Not only this generation sees opportunities to go back to the farm, but how many people come from non-traditional agricultural families

Two weeks ago, Ross was with the president in Fresno as part of Governor Brown's drought task force.

“We're very much at the table articulating what those impacts are and trying to anticipate what we need to do to mitigate those impacts,” Ross said. “What's very sobering about this drought is how extensive it is from north to south, east to west.”

“The President wanted everyone to know they're paying attention, that they want to coordinate with us,” Ross said.

But Chico State Ag students like Steven Graham are paying attention too.

They’re determined to see their future career field not just survive, but thrive.

“It presents a challenge but it's not something the agricultural industry in California can't overcome,” Graham said.

Ross is part of the drought task force, and also helped create the Water Action Plan for the state.

Before her role as Secretary in California, she was Chief of Staff for US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.


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