The Williams Future Farmers of America (FFA) and their advisors visited Colusa Industrial Properties and Premier Mushrooms L.P. as guests of Supervisor Mark Marshall (Dist.III) and his wife Nancy Marshall.
Supervisor Marshall arranged the tour and an agriculture education day, and hosted the group to a pizza lunch at the CIP conference room on March 27.
During lunch, Ed Hulbert, CEO at CIP, John Ashbaugh, CEO of Premier Mushrooms L.P. and Colusa County Ag Commissioner Joe Damiano addressed the students.
The speakers encouraged the students to make education their top priority in preparing for the future.
Both Hulbert and Ashbaugh recommended that the students broaden their knowledge beyond their chosen field.
“Learn how to learn,” said Ashbaugh. “Learn how to communicate to others what you have learned. FFA is a great platform to learn those skills.”
Hulbert recommended that no matter what the course of study the students pursue that it is good to include basic financial knowledge. “Production Ag is critical in this county, but there is more you need to know, such as business, finance and accounting skills,” he said.
Marshall echoed their sentiments, saying that education is the key to success.
“We are very pleased that we now have the Woodland Community College site in Williams,” he said. “The supervisors were so dedicated to seeing this project happen that they helped secure $600,000 for the purchase of the land.”
Hulbert shared that there is job opportunity on the industrial park, and that the opportunities are growing as the Park expands. We have had great support from our County supervisors working with us on the permitting process when we bring in new businesses,” said Hulbert. Hulbert added that the industrial park continues to grow with at least a half dozen new potential businesses looking at the park.
Ashbaugh also addressed the group explaining that Premier Mushrooms L.P. produces about 210,000 pounds of mushrooms a week, and that it
employs about 170 people. With the farm’s planned expansion those numbers will increase.
Marshall commented that the Board of Supervisors is very pleased to have Premier Mushrooms in the county.
“A bonus to having the mushroom farm here is that it provides year around ag-related employment in our agriculture-driven county,” he said. “Unlike other ag producers, the mushroom farm is not linked to seasonal production.”
Damiano explained what his department does, which includes compiling the annual crop report. Last year, agriculture equaled $640 million in Colusa County. Damiano said he expects the numbers for 2011 will be similar.
After lunch, the students toured Premier Mushrooms for a first hand look at mushroom production.
The students commented that the information and tour were beneficial.
“Agriculture is the primary revenue generating source in Colusa County,” said Marshall. “We are pleased to have facilities such as CIP and Premier in our County.”
“I’d like to take the students on tours of other types of agriculture operations in the county,” said Marshall.