Arizona was my home for seven years before I moved to the San Joaquin Valley almost 32 years ago to switch careers from newspaper reporting to an agricultural journalist. Arizona is where I had my first real taste of Western agriculture as a reporter on the Tucson Daily Citizen.

The late Bob Fowler, former Farm Journal editor and long time ag communications specialist at the University of Arizona, was my mentor in reporting on Western agriculture. He introduced me to some fantastic UA scientists like former UA extension cotton specialist Brooks Taylor, who taught me much.

Each time I return to the Grand Canyon State, it's a little like going home for a visit. I have a lot of great friends there. I have a lot of respect for Arizona farmers who have faced and conquered some of the biggest challenges producers could face.

However, I have a confession to make to my Arizona friends. On my last visit to Arizona I stole something from my former home state.

I need to publicly apologize for my transgression. I want to apologize especially to fourth generation Maricopa County farmer — and hopefully still my friend, Kevin Rogers, for my thievery. Kevin is president of the Arizona Farm Bureau and Western Farm Press stole AZFB's public relations director and editor of Arizona Agriculture, Cary Blake.

Kevin has already phoned me to let me know how much he “appreciates” Farm Press snatching away a top hand to join the Farm Press editorial staff. You are welcome, again.

Now Kevin, I cannot be blamed totally. It was your buddy Rick Lavis of the Arizona Cotton Growers Association who suggested I contact Cary when I asked Rick if he knew anyone who would make a good editor for Farm Press. Cary's name came up immediately.

The venerable Larry Antilla of the Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council must share some of the blame as well. It was Larry who offered up the highest praise a journalist can receive when I asked Larry if he had worked with Cary: “He does a good job and gets the facts right.”

You can read all about Cary's extensive journalism background in an article in this edition of Western Farm Press. He will be based out of the Phoenix area and be writing almost exclusively about California and Arizona agriculture with an occasional story-gathering foray into New Mexico and Far West Texas to help out on Southwest Farm Press.

Yep, Cary is a former Farm Bureau guy. I have made my opinions of FB evident in this space. However, he is from Arizona FB, not California FB. Arizona FB leadership takes a more proactive approach to supporting agriculture than the FB crowd in Sacramento. There are no whiners in Arizona FB, just top hands like Cary.

Cary is making an excellent addition to the Farm Press staff. Thanks again, Kevin.

And for all those who will meet or talk with Cary, be nice to him. Don't treat him like you would this old curmudgeon.

Welcome aboard, Cary.