Appointees seek to serve as liaisons between agricultural, academic communities
On Feb. 23, Calif. Governor Jerry Brown reappointed UC Davis alumnus Craig McNamara as president of the state Board of Food and Agriculture and also appointed UC Davis’ dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Helene Dillard to the board.
McNamara, who has been on the board since 2002, was appointed as president of the board four years ago. As the president of the board, he works closely with the secretary, executive director and other board members to advise the governor and secretary of agriculture on issues that pertain to agriculture in California, including water regulation and land use.
Each year, the board develops a plan of how to deal with California’s most critical food and agriculture issues. Lately, water usage has been a top priority, especially with California’s recent drought, according to McNamara. Although water is a top priority right now, McNamara said that he personally wants to focus more on food insecurity and food waste.
“I’m aware of the fact that many of our peers are food insecure,” McNamara said. “I know that college students often struggle with food and budgets. It’s a real issue that affects many of us.”
McNamara said that he is very excited that Helene Dillard will represent UC Davis on the board, as he and his wife are both UC Davis alumni.
The board is made up of fifteen positions, each of which is allocated to different areas in the agriculture industry, such as consumer interest, to ensure that the board has a wide representation across the state. There is always one seat for the University of California (UC) system of agriculture as well as one spot for the California State University (CSU) system of agriculture. Helene Dillard will be taking over the UC system of agriculture position.
Dillard, who was appointed UC Davis’ dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences in November 2013, was originally nominated for the position on the board. After finding out that she was nominated, she turned in an application for the position to the governor’s office.
McNamara said that, although he works closely with the governor’s team when deciding on appointments, the governor ultimately decides whom to appoint to the position.
“Helene was an outstanding candidate,” McNamara said.
Dillard hopes to present to the board different educational opportunities to help decision makers, as well as discuss different agricultural issues such as the drought.
“I see myself as providing a bridge for the agricultural community to access and interact with the academic community,” Dillard said. “California is the nation’s number one agricultural state with farm revenues that are nearly $45 billion. Thus, agriculture is a huge economic engine for the state and for the U.S.”
In addition to her responsibilities as dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Dillard will be very busy with her new position on the board.
“I will be participating in key discussions around agricultural issues where university research and outreach efforts may be helpful towards developing solutions,” Dillard said. “I see myself as providing a bridge for the agricultural community to access and interact with the academic community.”