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California Agricultural Technology Institute

Water specialists, economists to address 33rd Annual Agribusiness Management Conference

A trio of California water specialists will be among the headline panel speakers addressing pressing agricultural issues at the 33rd Annual Agribusiness Management Conference set for Nov. 5 in Fresno, California.

This year’s event, “Issues and Outlook for 2015,” will focus on emerging issues and the outlook for California agriculture for the coming year. The program will host an array of economic, legal, water and industry experts who will address important agricultural concerns and provide outstanding information.

conference participantsLeading off the morning lineup of speakers will be agricultural economist Terry Barr, who will present his economic outlook for 2105. Barr is chief economist for CoBank, a national cooperative within the farm credit system. He will offer insights on the economic impacts resulting from the drought, as well as other key financial challenges facing agriculture.

Following Barr’s presentation, Lynnette Jacquez of CJ Lake, LLC will discuss the current status of U.S. immigration reform and its importance to California and the Central Valley. Jacquez’ professional background spans private law practice, government relations, and service in the federal government, including as counsel for the House Judiciary Committee under former Chairman Peter W. Rodino (D-NJ). In her work for its Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and International Law, Jacquez had primary responsibility for drafting and processing the Immigration Reform Act of 1986.

Notwithstanding the many issues affecting the agricultural industry, water continues to loom largest in most people’s minds, noted Dr. Mechel Paggi, director of Fresno State’s Center for Agricultural Business (CAB) and conference chair.

“Our industry continues to face major challenges such as food safety and immigration reform, but surely the drought is the greatest threat to California agriculture today,” Paggi stated. “At this year’s conference we have an excellent panel of speakers to discuss where things stand now and what may happen with ground water resources going forward.”

For conference brochure, visit the CAB brochure graphic 

Water panelists include Richard Howitt, professor emeritus of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis; Dane Mathis, senior engineering geologist for the California Department of Water Resources’ Division of Integrated Water Management; and Dan Dooley, senior vice president of the University of California.

Howitt will discuss the recent drought crisis report he co-authored at the request of California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. Among the report findings are that California’s economy will lose $2.2 billion of income and 17,000 jobs this year as a result of the drought – most of the lost jobs will be in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys.

Panelists also will discuss legislation enacted in Sacramento, Paggi said.

“How the regulatory environment may change to deal with the impacts of the drought can have profound effects on California agriculture and rural communities,” he said. “The panel session includes a discussion on the structure and potential effects of potential new regulatory initiatives.”

Closing the morning sessions will be a discussion of “Food Safety Risks and Mitigation” by industry leaders including Roger Isom, president and CEO of Western Agricultural Processors Association and the California Cotton Ginner and Growers Associations; David Acheson, president and CEO of the Acheson Group, LLC; and Martin Wiedmann, professor in the Department of Food Science and Cornell University.

george soares

The keynote luncheon address will be presented by George H. Soares, a Hanford dairy operator and founding member and managing partner in the law firm of Kahn, Soares & Conway, LLP. As part of his law practice, Soares regularly appears before the California State Legislature and has helped to draft thousands of legislative and regulatory proposals affecting agricultural and other interests.

And as a special addition to this year’s conference – leaders in California’s dairy industry will hold a mini-forum after lunch, addressing several key issues facing the industry resulting from the recent enactment of the Federal Farm Bill. The discussion will feature presentations by Michael Marsh, chief executive officer for Western United Dairymen; and Scott Brown, assistant research professor for the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Missouri.

The conference will be held at the Fresno Hotel and Conference Center downtown (formally the Radisson). It is designed for farmers, farm managers, attorneys, appraisers, insurance personnel, processors, accountants, and others involved in California’s agribusiness industry.

Early registration fee (by Oct. 25) is $100. Late or walk-in is $125. For more information, call 559.278.4405 or visit the CAB website at

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