Longtime farming advocate Manuel Cunha was named the 2016 Agriculturist of the Year by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.
The award was announced Thursday at The Big Fresno Fair.
Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League, has a long history of lobbying for farmers. In his 20 years with the organization, Cunha has been at the forefront of several issues, including air quality, immigration reform and government regulation.
He has served on many state, local and federal committees, giving regulators and government officials agriculture’s point of view.
In announcing the award, Nathan Ahle, chamber president, said Cunha’s commitment to agriculture cannot be overstated.
“In a time when Valley farms are besieged on all fronts, from a continuing drought to new state and federal regulations making it difficult for farmers to operate, Manuel Cunha is a steadfast, driven advocate who leads the charge for our agriculture community,” Ahle said.
Cunha said he was humbled to receive the award.
“This is a real honor, and I want to thank my staff for all the work they do,” he said.
Cunha said 2016 has been a trying year for farmers as they continued to battle for more water, a shrinking pool of labor and increased regulation.
“But we will continue to fight for water and immigration,” he said. “We are not going to give up.”
Also, Booth Ranches LLC received the Baker Peterson Franklin’s Ag Business Award.
The awards recognize leadership, integrity, service and entrepreneurship in the region’s agriculture business community.
Founded in 1957 by Otis Booth Jr., Booth Ranches has grown from a 40-acre citrus grove to nearly 9,000 acres with farms stretching from Orange Cove to Maricopa in Kern County.
Operated by Loren Booth, the daughter of Otis Booth, the company is one of the leading citrus producers in the nation. It is the fifth-largest U.S. grower by volume.
The company is also focused on its employees and their families. Booth Ranches provides scholarships to 60 employees’ children enrolled in college full time. Twice a year, it hosts a group of children from Los Angeles to Camp Booth for a first-time outdoor experience.
Last year’s winners were Joe Del Bosque, a diversified west-side farmer, as Agriculturist of the Year, and Hall Management Corp. of Kerman was named recipient of Baker Peterson Franklin’s Ag Business Award.
This year’s award winner will be honored at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s Ag Awards Luncheon at 11 a.m. on Nov. 9 at Valdez Hall at the Fresno Convention Center, 702 M St. Tickets for the event are available by visiting the chamber website at www.FresnoChamber.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note: The original version of this story had the incorrect date for the luncheon.)
The Big Fresno Fair
Gates open: Friday, 11 a.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.
Gates close: Friday-Saturday, midnight; Sunday, 11 p.m.
Museum: Open until 9 p.m.
Carnival: Friday, 3 p.m. to close (kiddie carnival opens at noon Thursday-Friday); Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to close
Horse racing start times: Friday, 1:15 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12:15 p.m. (Read Exacta Kenny’s handicap in Sports)
Admission: Adults $10; military, seniors 62 and older, and children ages 6-12 $7; children 5 and under free
Parking: $15 Chance Avenue lot; $10 Butler Avenue and infield lots; $5 Maple/Butler and Cedar/Kings Canyon lots
Clovis Park and Ride shuttle: Free shuttles pick up every half-hour, from 9:40 a.m. to 11 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays from Clovis Park and Ride at Highway 168 and Temperance Avenue.