It’s customary for officials and volunteers with World Ag Expo to pray for rain to stay away during the three days of the show that’s now running (Feb. 12) in Tulare, Calif. But Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross broke with tradition and said she is praying for rain, not because California is in desperation need of moisture – though it is. But it’s because some people may come to the show because it’s too wet for them to do anything on the farm.
The drought was on everyone's mind as the International Agri-Center board of directors, staff, volunteers and visiting dignitaries gathered to open the new show at the IAC's Heritage complex on the show grounds. Former chairman and current board member Mark Watte said he would be happy if the rain would hold off until 4:01 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 13). (The show closes at 4 p.m. Thursday.) "Then it can just pour," said Watte.
"I am very fortunate to have the position that I have because I am secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, representing the No. 1 ag state," said Secretary Ross. "And I really enjoy the opportunity I have to work with members of the legislature, including the members attending this ceremony.
"And I was thinking what a gift California agriculture is to the world and why it's so important that this Ag Expo is what it is and brings the people together that adapt. When you think about the continued productivity gains of California agriculture. When I came to the state our farmgate value was about $38 billion. It's now more than $45 billion."