Paying her first visit to the Central Valley since her election to the U.S. senate, Kamala Harris toured a local farm and held a roundtable a who’s who of the Valley ag community.
Dennis Parnagian, co-owner and president of Fowler Packing Company served as host.
“I was called not only by her (Harris) office, but by also Westlands Water District asking if I would host and I was absolutely pleased to do it.
Parnagian showed Harris the grape growing operation; and the packing facility, moving oranges from the fields to the consumer.
Following the tour, Senator Harris met with heavy hitters in the Valley ag community. While mostly listening, Harris heard from around the table many concerns.
Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO Ryan Jacobsen talked about water. John Harris and William Bourdeau of Harris Farms talked about California’s importance in the nation’s agriculture.
“We hope that you will take a leadership position and help tell our story. We have a wonderful story (of) the communities here, the hard working people…everything that goes into producing the food the people buy at the grocery stores,” Bourdeau said at the roundtable.
Los Banos farmer Joe Del Bosque, who once hosted President Barack Obama, talked about labor issues.
Most of the roundtable members were glad Harris would at least listen, a backhanded knock at her predecessor Barbara Boxer. Fresno County Supervisor Brian Pacheco noted that at least Sen. Harris showed up.
Parnagian said there no hard feelings, even though he supported Harris’ opponent during the 2016 election, Loretta Sanchez
“She won the election. It is no different from a president or other elected official. I didn’t really know Kamala Harris. Loretta Sanchez made repeated visits to the Valley. We became familiar with her, and so we supported her. That was then, this is now. This is our new senator. I have all the respect in the world for her and hope that she has an open door policy and listens to all side of the issue,” Parnagian told GV Wire.
In a session with the media after the round table, Harris kept an open ear, but lacked specifics when GV Wire asked her about the progress of the proposed Temperance Flat and Sites Dam projects.
“I am familiar with it,” Harris said with a smile. “One of the things we will have to figure out and keep the conversation going is what the right solution for that region. Is it going to be about the building of dams? Is it going to be also looking at other resources of renewable and sustainable, and reliable sources of water?
Jacobsen was optimistic after the meeting.
“First off, she has boots on the ground,” Jacobsen. “Just the fact that we have her to listen to these issues is a step forward from where we were.”
Some of the Roundtable attendees:
Tal Cloud; Paper, Pulp & Film
Ryan Jacobsen; CEO, Fresno County Farm Bureau
Dan Errotabere; Errotabere Ranches
Carol Chandler & Bill Chandler; Chandler Farms
Brian Pacheco; Fresno County Supervisor
John Harris; Harris Farms
William Bourdeau; Harris Farms
John Harris; Harris Farms
Joe Del Bosque; Del Bosque Farms
Oliver Baines; Fresno City Councilman
Tom Birmingham; General Manager, Westlands Water District
Johnny Amaral; Westlands Water District
Jason Phillips; CEO, Friant Water Authority
Sal Parra; Golden Plains Unfied school board member
Sarah Woolf; Westlands Water District
Esmeralda Soria; Fresno City Councilwoman