M. Anastascia Allen will join a small group of distinguished individuals to serve as Colusa County Agricultural Commissioner and Sealer of Weights and Measures, when she assumes the role on Feb. 1.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors, on Jan. 19, appointed Allen, who is currently the Assistant Ag Commissioner. She replaces Greg Hinton, who served as the department head since 2016.
Only eight other individuals have served in that position since the 19th century, when such duties were handled by the Board of Horticultural Commissioners. Allen is the first woman to be appointed to the position. Commissioner Wilber C. Disney served the longest, from 1961 to 1987. The first Ag Commissioner was L.A. Boedefeld, who was appointed in 1914 and served 11 years.
Allen was born and raised in Butte County, and graduated from California State University, in Chico. She started with Butte County as a biologist, and came to Colusa County looking for advancement.
Allen was appointed to the position of Assistant Ag Commissioner and Assistant Sealer of Weights and Measures in 2018, handing most of the agriculture side of the office and the weights and measures, while Hinton handled the administrative role of the department, along the management of the Colusa County Airport, Air Pollution Control, and Migrant Housing Facility.
“The agriculture system is very unique in that you can become an Ag Commissioner, but every Ag Commissioner starts at the bottom. There is no jumping the line: You start as an Ag Biologist 1 and work your way up.”
While many biologists elect to remain in that role for their entire careers, Allen said she loved the administrative and advocacy role of the Ag Commissioner’s office.
The department handles all aspects of pesticide regulations and crop certification, and operates as the enforcement arm of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, while promoting and protecting Colusa County’s vast agriculture industry.
Allen said her interest in agriculture grew as she and her husband raised their two sons, now 19 and 21, in Durham, where they were very involved in FFA.
“Getting involved in agriculture was huge, and I really developed a passion for it,” Allens said. “I love the farming lifestyle, and appreciate the legacy farms in Colusa County and I don’t want to see that end. They need an advocate; they need somebody who can articulate their needs. I’ve always wanted, since I was young, to make a difference.”
Allen said she sees the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office as advocates for farmers, so they can continue to farm the way they need to farm, while still protecting the citizens of Colusa County, the water, soil, and air.
“But if we don’t farm, we don’t eat,” she said. “People lose that connection there, and think everything can just come from Costco. They don’t think beyond that.”
Allen will oversee a staff of six biologists, three air pollution specialists, four administrative assistants, and two Migrant Housing staff. Her department is also responsible for publishing the annual corp report as required by the California Food and Agriculture Code. The crop report compiles and records information regarding the gross production and value of the county’s commodities, estimated last year at $933 million. ♣