Helm, Calif - A standout, innovative Fresno County farmer is being recognized for his decades of work in the Valley's ag industry.
The Fresno Chamber of Commerce named Terranova Ranch General Manager Don Cameron the 2017 Agriculturist of the Year. Cameron has worked on Terranova Ranch near Helm for 36 years.
"We farm in total about 7,500 acres," Cameron said. "We produce enough calories here to feed 200,000 people for a year."
Cameron didn't grow up in agriculture. He's a first-generation farmer with a Biology Degree from Fresno State.
"He's done everything from growing cotton, to serving on the Tomato Growers Association to doing really cool stuff with biofuels," Fresno Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nathan Ahle said.
Along with growing and managing Terranova Ranch, Cameron has also worked on replenishing groundwater supplies. In 2011, he put floodwater on some of his fields in production. Earlier this year when the Kings River flooded, he put the excess water on pistachio, wine grape and almond fields.
"Nobody had really done work on this before, so we did a lot of experimentation," Cameron said. "We proved that we could flood growing crops and not harm them," Cameron said.
Now in mid-November, Cameron is preparing for a trip to Chile. He's traveling with the California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary, representatives from various industries and a handful of other farmers. In Chile, the group will meet with government officials and go out in the field. It's his 4th such international trip.
"Every time we go, we learn something new, something we can bring back here and implement," Cameron said. "Begin to develop an exchange between the government of Chile, their ag industry and California."
These are just some of the many reasons Fresno Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nathan Ahle says Cameron was recognized.
"Just a phenomenal breadth of experience in our industry," Ahle said. "He's always giving back, always going to Sacramento, going to Washington to fight for farms in our area, to help growing the ag community here. He's just done it all."
The group is headed to Chile after Thanksgiving.