Harry:

As the former Secretary of Agriculture of California, I want to send you a brief note thanking you for your comments over the years. I truly enjoyed my five years in public service.

The many issues we faced in California during my tenure, such as the major citrus freeze of 1999, the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Bovine TB, Newcastle Disease, the red imported fire ant and several outbreaks of Mexican Fruit Fly, were successfully handled with the support from Gov. Gray Davis, the California agricultural community, the USDA and the great staff at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Those successes, along with the “Buy California” program, the establishment of both the Western Institute of Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis, and the Specialty Crop Institute at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, I am extremely proud of.

It is now time to throw agriculture's support behind the new California Secretary of Agriculture, A.G. Kawamura. A.G. was an excellent choice. I consider him a good friend to both myself and agriculture. He will have his plate full with some tough budget issues, mad cow disease and putting together a top caliber team.

I believe A.G. will continue to enlighten our congressional representatives and USDA that specialty crop states, such as California, do not receive their fair share in the conservation, nutrition, research and pest prevention/detection program structure.

Anyway Harry, keep writing. I have enjoyed your commentaries and your insight to the fact that some of our farm organizations and farm advocates don't have that “fire in the belly” to represent us. I hope you and your family shared a happy holidays and that your new year will be successful and healthy.
William “Bill” J. Lyons Jr.
Modesto, Calif.