By Karen Ross, Secretary
California Department of Food and Agriculture
The dictionary defines gratitude as the state of being grateful: THANKFULNESS. It is important to express appreciation to people every day, but especially at this time of year – a time to celebrate the harvest by gathering around the table with family and friends.
Our farmers, ranchers, farmworkers and others who make up the agricultural sector in California have faced a number of stressful challenges this year. These include a third year of severe drought and a record breaking extreme heat event impacting harvest, in addition to continued disruptions in the supply chain, significant price increases for every input needed for production, and ongoing barriers to shipping product to valuable overseas markets. And, yet, California agriculture did what it always does – innovated, adapted, persevered. Our agriculture community is special not only for the crops it produces, but for the way they are grown to high labor, environmental, public health and safety standards.
It is an honor to serve in my position as Secretary of Food and Agriculture and to represent our state and this industry here at home, across the country and around the world. Just last week, Deputy Secretary Virginia Jameson and I returned from the UN Conference on Climate COP 27 where, for the first time, there was a day featuring agriculture. A number of sessions centered on the question of how we feed the world in a changing climate. There were too many extreme weather events in 2022 that showed how fragile food security is, in too many countries, for too many people. There were numerous discussions about how important it is to expand the adoption of climate smart agricultural practices and embrace innovation and technology to ensure resilient food production systems, nourish a fast-growing world population and help small-scale subsistence farmers move out of poverty and end hunger.
The entire experience reminded me once again how fortunate I am to live and work in California, where I have the opportunity to collaborate with kind, dedicated staff, talented colleagues and inspiring leaders working to make our industry and our state even better. I am grateful for the bounty of our harvest that includes our youth – the NextGen talent – who are excited about the future. California agriculture is remarkable! It is good to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for – the practice of gratitude.