Farm and Ranch 2024

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A special publication of the Escalon Times • Oakdale Leader • Riverbank News Manteca Bulletin and Ripon Bulletin March 27, 2024 Farm & Ranch Spring 2024

Farmworker of the Year continues

Stewart & Jasper Orchards is celebrating its 76th anniversary in 2024, and Salvador Anaya has been part of the almond growerprocessor’s employee family for 55 of those years.

As a 17 year old, Anaya worked part time after high school for the Newmanbased company picking up brush after the pruning crews made their way through the orchards. Upon graduation, he asked to work full time.

The answer was easy. Company President Jim Jasper said he saw Anaya as a dedicated person with a work ethic not often found.

During his 55 years, Anaya has continued to take on more responsibility — often times on his own initiative — and all with a can-do attitude and a positive personality. In the past 25 years, he has overseen employees, performed safety training, overseen pesticide and fertilizer applications, supervised irrigation and kept meticulous records, among other tasks.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Jasper said, reminiscing about when Anaya first began working part time. “He had a passion for work and a strong work ethic for a young man. He has been very loyal and very dependable.“

“Nowadays, it’s very hard to get young people who want work. Someone like

For those reasons and more, Jasper nominated Anaya for the 2024 Farm Worker of the Year. The judges agreed, awarding him the platinum title.

Salvador, he just wanted to work. Once he started, we’ve never thought about him not working here.”

When the Stanislaus Farm Bureau told Anaya of his award during a recent meeting at Stewart & Jasper’s headquarters near Newman, he said he was “surprised and happy at the same time.”

“Thanks to (Stewart & Jasper) because I enjoy what I do and am still happy being here.”

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Farmworker of the Year continues

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Now in its fourth year, the Farm Worker of the Year award program was started by the Stanislaus Farm Bureau, AgSafe and the Modesto Rotary Club during the COVID pandemic. They saw it as a way to recognize essential workers vital to producing, harvesting and packing food.

The awards continue today to spotlight the people who help feed and clothe not only county residents but also those elsewhere and around the world.

55 years of dedication

Anaya, his four siblings and their parents moved from Michoacán, Mexico, to the Newman area in 1965. After graduating from Orestimba High School, he began working full time for Stewart & Jasper.

“I was young and wanted to work and felt comfortable here,” he said. “I didn’t know too much about the company, but I got the impression that it was going to be a good place to work.”

The operation planted their first almond orchard in

1955. During the early years, it was more diversified with row crops like alfalfa and processing tomatoes as well as tree crops. They even made a foray into white-skinned peaches in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Slowly Jasper & Stewart decided to focus more on growing, hulling and shelling almonds, and they eventually got out of the other crops.

Along the way, Anaya began keeping meticulous records of every spray and fertilizer application he made or supervised as well as

irrigation sets and water-run durations. Those records have come in handy, too, Jasper said.

In 2004, someone accidentally delivered a herbicide rather than a nutrient. The material was applied to 150 acres, resulting in severe tree damage and loss. “They wouldn’t admit they delivered the wrong chemical, but Salvador had all of the records,” Jasper said. “They came in very, very handy.”

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3 | Farm & Ranch • March 27, 2024 Farm & • |

Farmworker of the Year continues

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Water is always a precious commodity on the Westside, where Stewart & Jasper farms. But it became even more valuable during the most recent drought. To ensure it was delivering the proper amount, the Del Puerto Water District sought Anaya’s records that showed before and after water meter readings. In addition, he noted the run times in case the meters were inaccurate.

“It’s helped us tremendously,” said Ray Henriques, manager of

farming and hulling-shelling.

“If we ever have a question of what we’ve done in the past, I don’t have to have a good memory. I just ask Salvador what did we do that year.”

Continual growth and improvement

About 13 years ago, Anaya took Dale Carnegie leadership courses. While he learned several skills he could use at work, he said it probably helped more with his family and people outside of work.

More recently, Anaya has begun checking the quality

Serving Agriculture & Industry Since 1936 W.B. TAYLOR & SONS

of bees that arrive for almond pollination. Donned in a bee suit, he meets with beekeepers as they make deliveries and checks hive strength.

“He’s our bee guy,” Jasper said of Anaya. “Bees are very, very important this time of year when the bloom comes. Bees cost a lot of money, and you don’t want to be spend $200 a hive if there are no bees in the hives.”

Anaya said he started doing it because of the important role bees play in overall almond production. But he also enjoyed it.

“Every year is different,” he said. “I talk to bee keepers, where they came from and get to know them.”

Although Anaya could have left and worked elsewhere, he said the thought never crossed his mind. During his tenure, he and his wife, Maria, have raised three daughters and a son. They also have 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. More than 20 years ago, he and Maria became U.S. citizens in a ceremony in Fresno.

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4 | Farm & Ranch • March 27, 2024
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Farmworker of the Year continues

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Anaya enjoys his job and comes to work every day with a positive attitude, but he said his favorite activity is spending time surrounded by family.

Gold Award: Ishmael Garcia with Heinrich Farms

In the 31 years that Ishmael Garcia has worked for Heinrich Farms in Wood Colony, he has become known as a dedicated, hard worker who always gives 110%.

“When we give him something to do, we don’t have to worry about it getting done,” said Gordon Heinrich, who farms with his three sons. “If we give him something to do and he sees something else that needs to be done, he does it. Not only is he loyal, he goes above and beyond.”

Heinrich Farms grows walnuts and almonds as well as custom harvests the nuts and runs a commercial walnut huller/drier. Garcia can do most of the jobs, from pruning to equipment operation.

He typically is the first person at the farm in the morning and one of the last to leave. As a crew leader, Heinrich said, he’s well respected.

could communicate with all of the employees. As he works, he frequently sings and just seems happy with the task at hand.

“Every one of our employees is pretty much like him, but he’s a standout,” Heinrich said.

Silver Award: German Partida with Avila Family Dairy

Since German Partida began working at Avila Family Dairy southwest of Modesto about 23 years ago, he has continued to learn and taken on new responsibilities. Today, he performs a range of jobs from milking cows and repairing equipment to scheduling employees.

Yet, Partida also knows his limits and will tell co-owner

George Avila when he’s not able to perform a task rather than mess it up. The trust built by Partida has allowed Avila to thrive.

“I’m now a lot more able to step away, whether it’s for a vacation or some other place that I have to be,” Avila said. “He’s really become my righthand man.”

valve shut off, for example, he’ll take care of it without being asked.

When he first started working at the dairy, Partida’s limited English may have been an obstacle. But Avila said that’s not the case any more. Partida has learned the language and now acts as an interpreter with Spanishspeaking employees.

The honoree also has embraced the benefits of working together as a team.

Award of Excellence: Antonio Machucha with Gambini Farms

Garcia also took it upon himself to learn English so he

Chalk that up to dedication, punctuality, a positive demeanor and taking initiative. If Partida sees something needs fixing or a

“I think he understands that if we do better, the employees do better,” Avila said. “We’re trying to make improvements in our facility to help not only us but everyone, and it will also be better for the cows to keep them comfortable.”

During the 39 years that Antonio Machucha has worked for Gambini Farms, Rod Gambini has come to know him for his dedication, hard work and reliability.

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Career opportunities in the agricultural sector

Individuals approach their careers in various ways. Some may aspire to climb the corporate ladder, while others may pursue a career that affords them ample personal time to spend how they see fit. Many individuals look for careers that afford them ample opportunities to work in the great outdoors, which could make the agricultural sector an appealing industry. Talented individuals with an array of diverse skills dot the agricultural sector landscape, and the following are just a few of the many careers to consider within this vital industry.

• Equipment technician: Data from the career experts at Indeed indicates agricultural equipment technicians earn an average salary around $65,000 per yar. Agricultural equipment technicians maintain and repair existing machines and install new ones, among their many responsibilities.

• Purchasing agent: An agricultural purchasing agent buys products and raw materials at wholesale. Indeed notes that purchasing agents often must meet specific purchasing quotas for

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3 challenges facing the agricultural sector

Since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in early 2020, businesses big and small have faced significant challenges. Though the pandemic has ended, many sectors, including the agricultural industry, are facing familiar and unfamiliar challenges. The agricultural sector is crucial to the survival and health of billions of people across the globe. Though it’s obvious that modern agriculture is vital to feeding a global population that was greater than eight billion people at the dawn of 2024, the United Nations notes that agriculture also boosts prosperity and economies by providing jobs.

That reality only underscores the notion that the challenges facing the agricultural sector are facing everyone, even those whose livelihoods are not directly linked to the industry. According to, an organization that offers environmental news, data analysis, research, and policy solutions, the following are three sizable challenges facing modern agriculture.

1. Climate change: Perhaps no challenge is greater for humanity in the twenty-first century than climate change, and the agricultural sector is no exception. Climate change has caused shifting


weather patterns marked by unpredictability and potentially disastrous developments like prolonged drought. Estimates from NASA indicate corn yields may decrease by 24 percent by the end of this century, a potentially dangerous development linked to a host of factors, including a shifting climate and elevated surface carbon dioxide concentrations that can be traced to humancaused greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Population growth: The booming global population is attributable to numerous factors, including longer life

expectancies in developed nations due to medical advancements. How to keep the global population fed at a time when the climate is adversely affecting crop yields is a significant challenge facing both humanity and the agricultural sector. As the population grows, so, too, does the demand for water, which also must be used to grow crops. Navigating this challenge will be significant, and how it’s managed could affect the economic stability of the agricultural industry in the decades to come.

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April 5th - April 7th

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3 challenges facing the agricultural sector

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3. Investment: Perhaps no industry is more vital to human survival than agriculture. notes that countries with strong agricultural sectors often boast higher standards of living and health than nations with a less productive agricultural industry. Despite that, notes that investment in the agricultural sector is not commensurate with the growing population. Supporting measures to invest more heavily in the agricultural sector could reduce food shortages in the decades to come and ensure

the agricultural sector is better positioned to address the many challenges it is already confronting in the twenty-first century.

The challenges facing the agricultural sector affect those who work in the industry but also the global population as a whole. Recognition of that reality may compel more people to support measures designed to ensure the agricultural sector can thrive and help the world to overcome potentially devastating challenges in the decades ahead.

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Career opportunities in the agricultural sector

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processors and work with various clients who supply an array of agricultural products. The national average salary for agricultural purchasing agents is around $51,000 annually.

• Warehouse manager: The receiving, shipping and storage of agricultural materials is overseen by a warehouse manager. Indeed notes that these professionals now routinely utilize artificial intelligence products to manage inventory. Warehouse managers must know and adhere to safety procedures and guidelines that dictate how materials and products are stored. The average salary of a warehouse manager is around $52,000 per year.


Serves: 4

5 tablespoons avocado oil - divided

5 garlic cloves - 3 cloves, finely grated; 2 cloves, minced - divided

1/2 inch ginger root - peeled, 1/2 finely grated, 1/2 minceddivided

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken tenders - sliced lengthwise

Kosher salt / fresh finely ground black pepper

4 green onions - sliced; whites and dark greens - separated

2 to 4 birds eye chiles - split

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons mirin

1/4 cup smooth almond butter

• Sales: Like every industry, the agricultural sector requires talented sales personnel. Agricultural sales reps sell materials and products and identify the needs of potential customers. Agricultural sales reps may spend ample time on the road at trade shows. Doing so allows them to identify customers as well as their needs and wants, and promote their own products and services. An ability to foster strong and trusting interpersonal relationships is invaluable for agricultural sales reps, who Indeed reports earn an average of about $60,000 per year.

• Environmental engineer: Environmental engineers play pivotal roles within the industry, and could become even more vital in the decades ahead as the effects of climate change become more apparent. Environmental engineers design and implement

Spicy Almond Chicken

3 tablespoons chicken stock 2 to 3 tablespoons whole roasted, toasted chopped almonds Preparation

Add 2 tablespoons oil into a large bowl. Stir the grated garlic and grated ginger into the oil. Add the chicken and toss until evenly coated. Set aside at room temperature to remove the chill, about 20 minutes, while prepping the remaining ingredients.

half of the chicken and stir fry until lightly golden on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat the remaining chicken.

Chefie Tip: if you add all of the chicken at once, it’ll steam and not brown

Garton Tractor

Season the chicken with salt and pepper all over.

Heat a wok or 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons oil and heat it, 30 seconds.

Working in two batches, add

solutions that occur on agricultural sites, helping to address issues such as unhealthy soil, insufficient drainage and inefficiencies, among other concerns. A career as an environmental engineer within the agricultural industry can be rewarding and lucrative, with Indeed noting that the average annual salary for this position is a little more than $77,000.

These are just some of the career paths individuals can consider as they explore the agricultural sector.

Reciple provided by The Almond Board of California

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, minced garlic, minced ginger, whites of the green onions and chiles. Stir fry until you can smell the gálick, 30 seconds.

Add the soy sauce and mirin and cook until reduced by onethird, about 30 seconds. Add the almond butter and chicken stock, immediately remove

from the heat and whisk vigorously until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Return the chicken and toss to evenly coat with the sauce. Transfer to a medium serving platter. Garnish with the dark green onions, because you’re fancy! And sprinkle chopped almonds over top, because you’re extra fancy!

Farm and Ranch • March 27, 2024 | 9

Farmworker of the Year continues

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“He always knows what to do,” said Gambini, who grows walnuts, almonds and forage crops near Oakdale. “He knows what fields have to be mowed. He’s done it for so long, we could go on vacation and he would keep going. He makes it really easy.”

Over the years, Machucha has done most jobs, from pruning and disking to harvesting and sweeping. He continues to seek different ways to save the farm money or to make the operation better.

In addition, Gambini said, Machucha always has a positive attitude and goes above and beyond what is expected.

When he’s not at the farm, Machucha spends time working in his yard, which daughter Julianna Garcia described as “Yosemite” because of all the pine trees.

After the growing season ends, Machucha returns to Michoacán, Mexico, to help his brothers run their bakery, which has been in the family for about 100 years.

And it’s this type of work ethic that continues to impress Gambini.

“Every farm needs more workers like Antonio,” he

said. “I think if you had more farm workers like him, you’d need less people to get the job done.”

Award of Excellence:

Keaton Machado with Machado Ranch

Perhaps Keaton Machado, the fourth generation to work on the family’s farm near Westport, has agriculture in his blood. After graduating from California State University, Fresno, he returned to farming and has worked beside his father, Joe Machado, for the past 15 years.

As Keaton has taken over more duties, Joe has stepped back to allow him to grow.

“He has my job now,” Joe said, laughing. “I just feel I’m the luckiest man in the world to get to work with my son.”

The Machados grow and harvest their own almonds as well as do custom work for other almond growers and alfalfa and grain producers. But their bread and butter is custom hay baling.

Over the years, the equipment has become more sophisticated, and Keaton has taken on the technology. They currently have at least five self-driving tractors and use automated irrigation systems and weather stations, among other technologies.

“I really admire him — he has that interest and has taken it to the next level,” Joe Machado said.

He also pointed to the deep-hearted passion for ag that brought Keaton back to the farm after college and pushes him through the long, hard hours they often work.

“It’s refreshing. There aren’t a lot of young men in our area that are carrying on the farm,” Joe said.

Award of Excellence: Nathan White with Serpa Ranches

Nathan White is one of those unique individuals who is uplifting to everyone around him at Serpa Ranches and Serpa’s Milk Transport in Turlock.

“He’s always positive, always in a great mood,” said Jared Serpa. “He’s very strong faithed. No matter what is thrown his way, whether it is work related or some other issue, he tackles it.”

White joined the family-run operations about three years ago. About half his time is spent working on Serpa Ranches, which grows walnuts, almonds and forage crops. The other half is spent as a mechanic. He’s always open to learning new tasks, too.

Serpa has worked for the family businesses for the past 15 years and said he’s never encountered someone like White who just radiates positivity.

“Nathan, hands down, has to be the one that stands out all of these years,” Serpa said. “He’s always giving us his best. He’s very smart, very capable, and he’s always got good ideas.”

In talking to others in management who have been there longer, Serpa said they all agreed that White “is special.”

When White isn’t working at the trucking company or on the farm, he devotes time to volunteering in his community and his church.

“He has devoted his life to serving God,” Serpa said.

Stanislaus County Farm Bureau is dedicated to serving as the voice of Stanislaus County agriculture at all levels of government, while providing programs to assist its farms and family members andeducatethegeneralpublic of needs and importance to agriculture. Contact us today: 209-522-7278

10 | Farm & Ranch • March 27, 2024

Should we be growing almonds in drought-prone California?

Content courtesy of Almond Board of California

California is a global rarity –one of just five places with the Mediterranean climate needed to grow almonds. Plant-based, nutrient-dense and shelf-stable, nuts like almonds have been identified as an important food in our fight against climate change. In fact, the EAT-Lancet Commission’s planetary health diet recommends a substantial increase in global nut consumption as we work to feed a growing population in a way that’s healthy for people and the planet.4

Characterized by cool, wet winters and warm dry summers that almond trees love, Mediterranean climates like California also are prone to weather extremes like floods and droughts. As climate change makes California more susceptible to water scarcity (and floods), it’s our responsibility to use its limited water in the most sustainable way possible. Have farmers reduced the water needed to grow almonds? It wasn’t just recent droughts that made almond farmers focus on



water conservation – we’ve been at it for decades. Research funded by farmers in the 1980s assessed if a then new irrigation method, microirrigation, could work in almond orchards. By targeting water directly to the trees’ roots instead of flooding entire fields, this new approach conserved water and increased yields. Today, over 80% of California almond farms use microirrigation,5 nearly two times the rate of California farms overall.6

2025 GoalsAs a result, California

almond farmers reduced the amount of water used to grow each almond by 33 percent between the 1990s and 2010s.7 In 2018, they set a goal for an additional 20% reduction of water by 2025, work that will be achieved via innovative tools like soil moisture meters and precision scheduling as well as regenerative practices like improving soil quality which can increase its water holding capacity. As of 2022, farmers had already achieved three-quarters of that goal


12 | Farm & Ranch • March 27, 2024
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