View the 100th Anniversary Booklet Online

September 23, 2022

AS YOU SOW, SO SHALL YOU REAP

STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF FARMERS AND RANCHERS WHO CAME BEFORE

San Luis Obispo County farmers and ranchers banded together in 1922 to form our Farm Bureau, and I can’t help wonder what they’d say if they could see the state of agriculture today. Our agricultural forefathers would likely be awed by the abundance and diversity of commodities being produced on so few acres and by so few people. Today’s San Luis Obispo County farm and ranch families produce over $1 billion of agricultural commodities each year. Our world-class agriculture economy contributes $2.5 billion to San Luis Obispo County each year and accounts for over 13,000 local jobs.

Those early farmers would surely remark on the loss of farmland, the influx of people into SLO County, and they likely could not comprehend the regulatory regime California has imposed on agriculture. With so few people directly involved in producing food today, they would feel their efforts to amplify agriculture’s voice by uniting farmers and ranchers into a single organization was a worthy cause.

It wasn’t an easy road to get where we are today. Perhaps foretelling of the work to come, Farm Bureau’s first hurdle came not from organizing farmers to join Farm Bureau, but lobbying SLO County Supervisors. They showed up and spoke at public meetings, they mounted a public pressure campaign in the newspaper, and despite coming up short for six years, they persevered. The Supervisors relented, funds for a farm advisor position were allocated, and San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau was born.

But more than anything, I hope those founding members would be proud of the organization they worked so hard to form. From droughts and market volatility, to pandemics and anti-agriculture legislation, I believe Farm Bureau’s century of work to help agriculture overcome adversity honors those early endeavors. This hundred-year publication is in memory of the thousands of Farm Bureau members who sacrificed time away from their families and businesses over the past century to protect agriculture in San Luis Obispo County. What would our community look like without their efforts? Across decades of dramatic changes in the way we think, live, communicate, travel, raise food, and view the world around us, one thing remains unchanged: nothing is possible without agriculture. Farmers and ranchers sustain us all.

A complete record of San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau’s work since 1922 would span hundreds of pages, and I hope the retrospect that follows give a small sense of the incredible contributions made by our members. The seeds so carefully sown by the generations that came before us are responsible for the bounty we reap today. This centennial celebration is also a reminder of the extraordinary leaders we have lost over the years. May their memory inspire us to “keep our hands on the plow” and protect San Luis Obispo County agriculture in the years to come.

In closing, thanks are due to the many members who submitted photos for this publication, work done in 1997 by former Farm Bureau staff Mark Souder, and to SLO County Farm Bureau Deputy Executive Director Catie Field for research.

Brent Burchett, Executive Director
San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau

Back to News