At the Sept. 21 Farm to Table Dinner, the Los Banos Downtown Association is set to honor this year’s farmer of the year, Joe Del Bosque. Del Bosque is a Firebaugh farmer, who grows organic melons, almonds, cherries, and tomatoes.
Growing up, Del Bosque didn’t always want to be a farmer, but starting around the age of 10, he would go to work summers with his father who was a farm manager growing cantaloupes. Eventually, after graduating from Fresno State with a degree in agriculture, Del Bosque would come back to work on the same farm with his father. There he made friends who introduced him to the concept of becoming a contract farmer.
Being a contract farmer allows one to grow crops for somebody else, and it was ideal for someone who doesn’t have a lot of capital to invest in their own crops. Del Bosque then worked as a contract farmer, known as a custom grower, and specialized in melons until the opportunity arose for him to grow his own crops, starting with cotton.
Despite his success as a farmer, Del Bosque is known for his involvement with water boards and many non-profit organizations as he is passionate about improving life in the Central Valley, and especially farm communities within the area.
Most notably, Del Bosque has served on the California Water Commision after being appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In 2009, Del Bosque became involved with the California Latino Water Coalition, which according to their website, is “an organization dedicated expressly to helping constructively craft solutions to California’s water crisis and ensure that our state’s vital water supply needs are met, now and in the future.”
Needing a Latino farmer’s voice, Del Bosque was given the opportunity to serve as a spokesperson for the coalition, and this attracted the media’s attention where he has been featured in many national news stories. Eventually, this led to Del Bosque’s meeting with former President Obama and Governor Jerry Brown on his farm in 2014.
At the time, not many farmers were speaking up about the water crisis that was affecting so many, however, Del Bosque stated, “I look at it as a duty to advocate for our valley.”
While it may not have seemed that much change was happening, this past year, having brought an increase in rain and flooding, has made many citizens realize the state’s infrastructure needed change. New projects are now in the works to build or expand water storage infrastructure to save more excess water from flowing into the ocean.
Furthermore, Del Bosque is also an advocate for his workers, saying “I hope to encourage people in agriculture to be open minded about how they deal with their people, because they couldn’t do it without the people driving the tractors, irrigating the crops, or harvesting the fruit.”
Despite taking the time to personally train his staff when it comes to safety, Del Bosque owes it all to his wife, Maria Gloria, who practices good communication with their workers. Del Bosque believes this is what keeps workers returning to work in their fields, as his wife takes the time to understand their needs, setting goals for their workers to achieve a living wage.
While Del Bosque himself is an advocate, he believes “We as farmers need to have a better image.” Noting that farmers tend to stick to growing food, but don’t educate the public enough on what that process is like, or acknowledging the issues they face.
Del Bosque encourages other farmers to engage more with the public and get involved with the government processes to make sure our rural communities don’t get left behind.

Camryn Carpenter