Whether you’re looking out the window driving on Victoria Avenue or taking the train to Los Angeles, it’s clear that agriculture is one of the most important industries in Ventura County. That’s why the ninth session of the 2019 Oxnard Leadership Program was dedicated to exploring local businesses and meeting key players within the industry.
The day began at Heritage Square at the corporate headquarters of Reiter Affiliated Companies (RAC), the largest fresh multi-berry producer in the world.
They first met with Ventura County’s Agricultural Commissioner Ed Williams for an overview of the history, issues and trends of local agriculture, including how hemp is the fastest-growing crop in the region. The Agricultural Commissioner’s office works to protect and promote agriculture, while ensuring the welfare of the public, the industry and the environment. Williams explained his team’s role in protecting both the consumer and the farmer when it comes to their work with pest control.
After, the group met Mari Escamilla from RAC to learn more about the global company’s operations. Have you ever seen the Driscoll’s brand of berries at a farm stand or grocery store? RAC grows strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries for Driscoll year-round at their farms in California, Oregon, Florida, Baja California, Central Mexico, Portugal, Morocco and Peru.
The company is proud of its attention to employee wellness, and Dr. Raymond Lopez took them on a tour of La Clínica FreSalud, RAC’s private, employee health clinic for employees and their families.
The morning ended with a trip to RAC’s Davis Ranch where they met with Luis Calderon and saw how the farm operates, including the steps they are taking to save water, how they protect crops against harsh weather, and what they do to create the proper growing environment.
The rest of the day was dedicated to food safety and quality testing with a visit to Oxnard’s AGQ Labs. They met with CEO Tenesor Peña, a member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce, to learn about the company’s focus on food safety and agronomy, the science of soil management and crop production. Their work in Oxnard impacts companies around the world and is highly sought after by agriculture businesses looking to take their farms and produce into the future.
Every year, the Oxnard Leadership Program leads participants through 10 unique, day-long experiences to gain a better understanding and appreciation of Oxnard and the surrounding areas’ realities, opportunities and challenges. Each session includes visits to various locations and provides participants with a unique opportunity to meet key business and government leaders who play integral roles in the region.
In October, the tenth and final session of 2019 will focus on energy, with visits and presentations from Southern California Edison, California Resources Corporation and the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula.
Learn more about the Oxnard Leadership Program and apply to be part of the Class of 2020.