Our Opinion: Welcome to Pastor

October 05, 2001

Two important agencies for the farming community have a new leader. The agencies are the Imperial County Farm Bureau and the Vegetable Growers Association. The executive director for both agencies is Steve Pastor, named to replace Lauren Grizzle.

Pastor comes to the Valley after a long history in the farming industry, from owning his own farm to serving as vice president of the Riverside County Farm Bureau. He is a third-generation farmer in his family and we are confident he brings the skills necessary to lead the county Farm Bureau and the Vegetable Growers Association.

He takes the reins of both agencies at an interesting time in agriculture — one filled with depressed markets making it a struggle for farmers to stay afloat but a time when the Imperial Valley agricultural community could be on the verge of better times.

The building of the beef-processing plant in Brawley could spark agriculture, as could the effort to attract dairies to the Imperial Valley. Sugar cane could be a boom crop in the Valley in coming years, with off-shoot industries making it triply profitable. Pastor also could find himself knee deep in the effort to protect local water interests.


Certainly, Pastor will play a leading role in advancing the interests of farmers and the Imperial Valley as a whole. He will find himself having to work to build unity between the farming community and other industries within the private and public sector.

We also want to say farewell to Lauren Grizzle, who showed herself willing to fight for the interests of farmers while heading the two farm groups. She waged vigorous battles with the Imperial Irrigation District to protect the interests of the farming community in the face of rising water costs.

Grizzle has played a leading role in trying to attract dairies to the Valley, and it is through her efforts and those who worked with her that the Valley has a chance of attracting at least one dairy company in the next year.

Grizzle worked hard to promote agriculture in the Valley and Pastor should be able to pick up where she left off, and do even more to push the growth necessary to benefit the local economy.

There is a lot of work ahead. There are issues such as total maximum daily loads threatening the future of farming in the Valley. There are issues related to transferring water out of the county that could hurt the farming industry. There are issues tied to the Salton Sea that could cripple local farming.

It will be Pastor's job to monitor all such issues. It is a balancing act; one that will put his leadership skills to the test. We wish him the best as he tackles the challenges ahead.

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