Two of the most well know names in Agriculture today are Steve Malanca and Erik Wilson the cofounders of the My Job Depends on Ag.
One of their goals is to spread the word about how everyone depends on ag, whether thy think so or not. They have been successful in many ways. Their vision, through this grassroots effort, is to show how many people’s lives are related, connected and, most importantly, dependent on agriculture.
Their goal is to illustrate just how massive the fraternity of Ag really is, as well as educate and inform the public with articles, stories, images and more, directly from the farmers, ranchers and other agricultural support businesses, whose daily lives – and livelihoods – are affected every day by agriculture in this country.
They started with a Facebook group in May of 2016, which in the matter of just a few weeks grew to over 20,000 members (we have grown to over 65,000 members as of October 2016), and they began by sharing our stories about how “our jobs depend on ag”. By putting a face with entire agriculture industry chain, they hope the impact of agriculture will be recognized by not just political leaders, but consumers as well. This would make a huge difference to the farmers of California.
During this lunch and learn we are going to hear more about their amazing journey. We will learn how they were able to get so many people behind this message so quickly. How we can keep the message going, and how our lives are impacted daily by ag.
Steve Malanca has been in the retail farm equipment business for over 30 years. He currently works for Mac’s Equipment located in Kerman, Ca. His experience in farm equipment sales has been in Western Fresno and Merced counties. He’s the third generation of the Malanca family raised in the small Ag community of Firebaugh.
In the fall of 2013, he along with the help of the Westland’s Water District and the California Water Coalitions created a video to show the importance of water and the number of jobs, and people affected by the disappearance of surface water deliveries in Central California.
When not up to his elbows in dirt, he enjoys playing golf, supporting Fresno State football, and it‘s said that he can grill a pretty darn good rack of ribs! He currently lives in Fresno with his wife, LuAnn.
I remember, many years ago, trying to steer an old bike down a dusty road, my fishing rod in one hand and tackling box in the other. When I finally made it to the canal to fish I sat by myself, and realized I was envious of my friends we were visiting. This wasn’t my home; I lived in the city. My dad wasn’t a farmer, and his dad wasn’t a farmer, but I fell in love with Ag that day. Although I was, at the time, without a row to hoe, I find myself now, 32 years later, farming and owning a custom agricultural spraying business. Exactly how this happened, how I went from the city to the farm, makes me a unique advocate for Ag today.
It seems now that somehow every job I had was preparing me for a time to be an advocate for Ag. In my late teenage years I went to work for Save Mart, which provided me with an opportunity to see the jobs created by agriculture in the final step before food is consumed. From there, I went to work as a temporary employee for Georgia Pacific, where I literally saw thousands upon thousands of produce boxes created and all of the jobs created by agriculture for that industry. My next employment was at a nursery, which gave me insight into another valuable agricultural industry. Finally, I worked three years as a gardener/landscaper. During this time, almost all of our customers worked in an ag-related field.
As fate would have it, I fell in love with my wife. When we married, I was still working as a gardener and she was finishing her degree at Fresno State. Her father called us over one evening and offered me an opportunity to work on his ranch. The deal was that if (and that was a BIG if) I could survive working as a field laborer, I could, after many years, possibly farm some ground on my own. The opportunity was worth the gamble. I took it, excited for the future, but soon realized I was going to have to earn it all…nothing was going to be handed to me, and I was going to receive no special treatment. For years, I worked side by side with my father-in-law’s other employees, “learning by doing” all of the things it takes to be a successful farmer.
About three years later, my chance finally came to rent 50 acres from my father-in-law and farm my very first field on my own. After that I found a couple of other fields to rent and, since 2000, have grown cotton, alfalfa, cantaloupes, fresh market tomatoes, honeydews, teff grass, radish for seed, and beardless wheat. But the chance to farm more ground came to end when nearly half of my father in laws ranch was sold. So I needed to find something else to do. I took the money I saved from farming and mortgaged my house to start a custom spraying business, and I’m still doing that today.
Although my first love is to farm, and I will continue to farm whenever possible, I am also very thankful for my work in spraying. My spraying business has introduced to me to the men and women of agriculture. I like to refer to them as the All-Stars of Ag. Those that are still farming truly represent the best of the best that has ever been. And now I am writing a bio for a website directed at telling the stories of ALL the fine men and women whose jobs depend on agriculture. I pray that through My Job Depends on Ag, we can help everyone to appreciate the people who bring food to our table and put clothes on our back.