After decades of hard work, David Mancera, a native of Monterey County, has officially gone from being a farm worker to a member of the state leadership in agriculture.
Mancera was recently nominated for the California State Board of Food and Agriculture by Governor Gavin Newsom.
He is now one of 15 members of an advisory board working for the governor and the secretary who addresses a number of key issues for farmers, ranchers, stakeholders and citizens across the state.
With this appointment, Mancera says he will help oversee food, water policy issues and and weigh decisions affecting agriculture on the central coast and beyond.
“What I’ve learned over the years is that we need food and we need agriculture,” Mancera said. “We also need to look at other resources needed to produce food, and that is labor, people, soil and water.”
Mancera himself grew up working side by side with his parents in the fields of the Salinas Valley. He says this not only taught him what it takes to run the industry, but also gives him insight into what can be done to improve the lives of those within it.
“Growing up in a family of farm workers, what I learned is that the need to have year-round work was very important,” he said. “The bills don’t stop when the seasons stop, and the kids keep growing and needing to be fed.”
Celsa Ortega is a local farm worker who has been working with Mancera for years and says she needs to get to know life and people in the industry to come up with unique ideas on the table, something she is confident she can do.
“He connected with us here and a sincere‘ greeting ’from him one day was enough for him to want to do more,” Ortega said. “It simply came to our notice then. It is reassuring for me to know that he will represent us. “
Before being appointed to this new position, Mancera spent much of his career learning the ins and outs of food, agriculture and business.
Part of her experience includes working with organizations such as the Agricultural and Land Training Association (ALBA) that train low-income agricultural workers to advance their knowledge and skills. He was the director of Kitchen Table Advisors, a state-owned nonprofit organization that helps teach farm workers the business side.
Mancera has also been a senior consultant for Mancera Consulting Group since 2014. He earned a Master of Science in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Davis.
His goal now is to continue training agricultural workers and familiarizing himself with other agricultural regions of the state so that he can point out important aspects in the broader conversations.
“There’s more to farming than back work,” he said. “I imagine the secretary will hear all the voices and the goal is for policies and programs to be implemented to support the industry as a whole.”
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