A diversified farmer from Tulare County and a farm couple from Glenn County have earned awards for achievement and excellence among young farmers and ranchers in California. They received the awards during the 100th California Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in San Diego.
Zack Stuller of Exeter received the Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award, which recognizes accomplishments in production agriculture and leadership activity.
Shannon and Kelly Douglass of Orland received the Excellence in Agriculture Award, presented to young agricultural professionals who contribute through involvement in agriculture, leadership activities and Farm Bureau.
A first-generation farmer, Stuller became interested in agriculture while growing up in Northern California, eventually earning agricultural degrees from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. After working for several years as a farm manager in the San Joaquin Valley, he started his own operation last year, farming and managing citrus fruit, kiwifruit and walnuts. His company also helps develop farmland for permanent crops. Stuller serves as treasurer of the Tulare County Farm Bureau and has taken a particular interest in water policy, serving on the county water commission and on the stakeholder committees for two local groundwater-sustainability agencies.
Shannon Douglass operates an agricultural recruitment business. She was elected last year as CFBF first vice president and also serves as a member of the Glenn County Farm Bureau board. Her husband Kelly is a seed sales representative. Together, the couple raise beef cattle and grow sunflowers, watermelons, squash, pumpkins, corn and hay.
Asked to name three important issues facing agriculture, the Douglasses cited regulation, the shortage of qualified agricultural employees, and the need to increase awareness of agriculture among non-farm residents. As farmers, they said, “we feel the pain of each and every regulation with which we must comply,” noting that paperwork becomes “a heavy burden and daunting task” for people trying to start a farming operation.
As winners of their respective awards, Stuller and the Douglasses each earned a $4,000 cash prize sponsored by Farm Credit, Kubota and K·Coe Isom. Stuller also earned 250 hours’ use of a Kubota tractor, furnished by Kubota Tractor Corp.
The winners will represent California in national competitions to be held next month at the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Convention in New Orleans.