The 15 men who have served as president of the California Farm Bureau Federation represent among themselves the diversity of California agriculture. They've included a dairyman, a cattle and sheep rancher, and farmers who have grown crops such as citrus fruit, grapes, peaches, prunes, almonds, walnuts, beans, vegetables, dates and avocados. They've hailed from as far north as Willows and Gridley, and as far south as Thermal and Fallbrook.
Some of them have strikingly coincidental backgrounds. Two were educated as engineers. Two played amateur baseball overseas. Two hailed from the small farming community of Clarksburg.
And all have at least one thing in common: dedication to California agriculture and its largest organization.
The current CFBF President, Paul Wenger, was elected in December 2009. Here are capsule biographies of his predecessors:
Doug Mosebar was elected president of the California Farm Bureau Federation in December 2005 and served two terms. Mosebar, who farms in Santa Ynez, became a statewide Farm Bureau officer in 1989, when he was elected second vice president. He was elected first vice president in 1997. A former president of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, Mosebar farms hay, squash, flowers and pumpkins and raises cattle. During his tenure as president, he served on the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors and on the AFBF Trade Advisory Committee. Mosebar attended College of the Sequoias in Visalia and earned a degree in agricultural business management from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Prior to his election as Farm Bureau president, he served as a member of the California Wheat Commission and on the advisory board of the California Beet Growers Association.
Bill Pauli emphasized political action and consumer education during his tenure as Farm Bureau president. He succeeded Bob Vice in 1997 and served the maximum four terms as CFBF president. A third-generation farmer, Pauli grew up on the family farm in Potter Valley. He became a fulltime farmer immediately after graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno, and shifted the farm's focus from pears to grapes. A few years later, he entered the winemaking business. Pauli served as Mendocino County Farm Bureau president before joining the CFBF board. He served eight years as first vice president and eight years as second vice president before becoming president of the organization. He served as a board member or statewide officer of CFBF for 27 consecutive years, a record of service unmatched in modern Farm Bureau history. During his tenure as president, Pauli also served on the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors, as chairman of the State Compensation Insurance Fund board and as chief of the Potter Valley Volunteer Fire Department.
Bob L. Vice became the first Southern Californian in 50 years to serve as CFBF president when he succeeded Voss in 1989. Born in Oklahoma, Vice graduated from high school in Japan and traveled to much of Asia with his school baseball team. He later spent two years as a professional ballplayer in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Vice eventually settled in San Diego County, and began farming in 1969. He grew avocados and operated a citrus and avocado nursery near Fallbrook. Vice, a former San Diego County Farm Bureau president, served four terms as CFBF first vice president. After serving the remainder of Voss' term as president, he was elected to four terms of his own, emphasizing water, trade and labor issues. Vice oversaw construction of the new CFBF building on River Plaza Drive in Sacramento, which opened in October 1997.
Henry J. Voss was elected CFBF president at the 1981 annual meeting in Palm Springs. Voss had served three terms as second vice president, following nine years on the CFBF board. A native of San Jose, he earned a horticulture degree from UC Davis. A former president of the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau, Voss was forced by urbanization to move his farming operations to Stanislaus County. He farmed 500 acres of peaches, prunes, walnuts, almonds, grapes, cherries and watermelons and was active in several commodity groups. Voss served as president of Madera Sunsweet Dryer and of the Apricot Producers of California, and chaired the California Apricot Advisory Board. He enthusiastically supported education projects, and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom was founded during his term in office. Elected to four terms as CFBF president, Voss resigned in 1989 after Governor George Deukmejian appointed him director of the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Frederick J. Heringer became the second resident of Clarksburg to serve as CFBF president, when he succeeded Grant in 1975. A native of Sacramento, Heringer earned an engineering degree from Stanford and played on the U.S. exhibition baseball team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The following year, he joined Farm Bureau. Heringer operated an 1800-acre ranch in Oroville, growing fruits, field crops and vegetables. He served as Yolo County Farm Bureau vegetable chairman, a member of the Butte County Farm Bureau board, chairman of the CFBF vegetable department and of the labor committee. He served four years on the CFBF board, then four years as second vice president and 12 as first vice president. Active in other organizations as well, Heringer was president of the California Tomato Growers Association and a director of the California Canning Peach Association. Heringer preached that "programs make members," and Farm Bureau membership surged during his three terms as president. Shortly after his election, Heringer convinced the CFBF board that the organization needed a new headquarters and that it should be in Sacramento. The federation purchased a site adjacent to Cal Expo, plus nearby extra land which proved to be an excellent investment. The CFBF building on Exposition Boulevard was dedicated in December 1979.
Allan Grant served six terms as CFBF president. The Los Angeles County native moved to Visalia in 1929 after his father's death. He supported his mother and siblings on an 840-acre leased farm, which he later bought. Grant operated a dairy and raised alfalfa, corn and hogs. He joined Farm Bureau in 1930 and later became president of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, a member of the CFBF board and first vice president. He was elected president at the CFBF annual meeting in Berkeley in November 1963. During the final two terms of his presidency, Grant also served as vice president of the American Farm Bureau. After retiring from his CFBF post in 1975, Grant was elected AFBF president-the only Californian ever to hold that office. He retired from the national presidency in 1980.
Louis A. Rozzoni succeeded Wilson as CFBF president in 1955, after being elected unanimously at the organization's annual meeting in San Francisco. Born in Italy, Rozzoni became a cattle and sheep rancher in Lodi, where he also grew vegetables and field crops. He joined Farm Bureau in 1929, became a director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation and in 1938 became chairman of the CFBF livestock department. Six years later, he was elected CFBF second vice president, and became first vice president in 1951. During his presidency, Farm Bureau moved into new offices on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, which the organization occupied in 1961. Rozzoni retired as CFBF president in 1963.
George H. Wilson, who had been a member of the American Farm Bureau board for 14 years, replaced Wiser and then was elected to two terms in his own right. Wilson joined Farm Bureau in 1916-before the statewide organization was even formed-and operated diversified farming operations in Yolo and Sacramento counties from his base in Clarksburg. An enthusiastic traveler, Wilson represented American agriculture on a "Round the World Town Meeting," visiting 17 foreign countries in the late 1940s. He later wrote a book about his travels.
Ray B. Wiser moved up from CFBF vice president in 1938 to fill Blackburn's unexpired term, then was elected president in his own right for seven two-year terms. Prior to his election to statewide office, Wiser, of Gridley, served as president of Butte County Farm Bureau. A grower of peaches, prunes, almonds, beans, alfalfa, grain and other crops, Wiser was, like his predecessor, closely involved in cooperative marketing. His presidency saw the beginning of relationships with two key Farm Bureau partners: In 1943, Farm Bureau started working with the State Compensation Insurance Fund to offer low-cost workers' compensation insurance and in 1948, CalFarm Insurance Company began providing insurance services to Farm Bureau members. The CFBF offices moved off-campus during Wiser's first year as president, relocating to an office on Allston Way in Berkeley. In 1946, CFBF moved its offices to the former Federal Land Bank building on Fulton Street; the building was extensively remodeled - including the addition of three floors-in 1950. Wiser resigned as CFBF president in the fall of 1951.
R.W. Blackburn became the organization's fifth president in 1929. Described as a "pioneer rancher" in Riverside County, Blackburn grew citrus fruit, grapes and dates near Thermal, and also headed the Coachella Valley Water District. He helped organize cooperative marketing organizations for several crops. During Blackburn's eight-year tenure as president, CFBF moved its offices twice: In 1931, the organization moved into three rooms in Giannini Hall on the UC campus, before moving back to Hilgard Hall in 1936. Blackburn resigned in 1938 to become secretary-treasurer of the American Farm Bureau.
Adolph Ahlf rose quickly through the young Farm Bureau organization, moving from center member to county president to state director to state president and to national director in just five years' time. He helped organize the Colusa County Farm Bureau and served as its first president. As CFBF president, he developed the slogan "There is no substitute for membership," which Farm Bureau used nationwide. After retiring as CFBF president in 1929, Ahlf noted, "If Farm Bureau in California has accomplished nothing more it has justified its existence by making the people of the north and the south better acquainted and better friends."
Earle Houghton, a former president of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, became CFBF president in 1925. In his annual message of 1927, Houghton noted that, "rising out of cold necessity, the California Farm Bureau Federation was formed to do for farmers that which they could not and cannot do individually, namely, protect, foster and serve the industry and the farm name in all ways except that of marketing the products." Citing the burden of time taken away from his farm in Lindsay, Houghton asked not to be considered for re-election in 1927.
A.C. Hardison succeeded Walker in 1922. Born in Maine and educated as a civil engineer, Hardison moved to Ventura after earning his college degree. In 1891, Hardison helped to found Limoneira Co., which became the largest producer of lemons in the U.S. After spending several years as a mining engineer in Peru, Arizona and Kansas, he returned to farming in 1911, on 250 acres of citrus land near Santa Paula. Hardison helped to organize the Ventura County Farm Bureau.
W.H. Walker served as the organization's first president, taking office when the California Farm Bureau Federation was formed in 1919. The fledgling organization established itself in two rooms inside Hilgard Hall on the University of California's Berkeley campus. During his leadership of the state organization, Walker, of Willows, also served as president of the Glenn County Farm Bureau. He also inaugurated the tendency of Farm Bureau presidents to travel widely on behalf of California farmers. For example, take this note from the May 1921 issue of Farm Bureau Monthly: "President Walker on his way to Washington, D.C. to look after the interests of California agriculture writes us that he stopped off at Mexicali and had the pleasure of speaking to three thousand farmers while a Mexican band played Yankee Doodle." Walker retired as CFBF president in 1922.
|Presidents of the California Farm Bureau Federation|
|W.H. Walker||(1919-1922)||Willows, Glenn County|
|A.C. Hardison||(1922-1925)||Santa Paula, Ventura County|
|Earle Houghton||(1925-1927)||Lindsay, Tulare County|
|Adolph Ahlf||(1927-1929)||Colusa, Colusa County|
|R.W. Blackburn||(1929-1938)||Thermal, Riverside County|
|Ray B. Wiser||(1938-1951)||Gridley, Butte County|
|George H. Wilson||(1951-1955)||Clarksburg, Yolo County|
|Louis A. Rozzoni||(1955-1963)||Lodi, San Joaquin County|
|Allan Grant||(1963-1975)||Visalia, Tulare County|
|Frederick J. Heringer||(1975-1981)||Clarksburg, Yolo County|
|Henry J. Voss||(1981-1989)||Ceres, Stanislaus County|
|Bob L. Vice||(1989-1997)||Fallbrook, San Diego County|
|Bill Pauli||(1997-2005)||Potter Valley, Mendocino County|
|Doug Mosebar||(2005-2009)||Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara County|
|Paul Wenger||(2009-present)||Modesto, Stanislaus County|