MODESTO, Calif. — The Almond Alliance of California has selected Bill Lyons, a third generation farmer from Modesto, as its Member of the Year. The award was announced at the Alliance’s annual convention held in Napa, April 30-May 2.
“Bill played a leading role in helping transform the former Almond Hullers and Processors Association into the Almond Alliance with an increased emphasis on advocating for all sectors of the California almond industry,” explained Alliance President Elaine Trevino. “He has been a relentless advocate for the industry and was instrumental in forming the California Almond Industry Political Action Committee, helping to give the industry high visibility among state decision makers. He has also distinguished himself as chair of the Alliance’s Government Relations Committee which provides guidance to the board on critical legislative and regulatory issues impacting the California almond industry.”
Lyons was recently appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as Agriculture Liaison in the Office of the Governor, responsible for reporting to the Newsom Administration on a wide range of agricultural and water policy issues. Under Gov. Gray Davis, he served as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture from 1999 to 2004.
While Lyons has stepped down from his Alliance roles due to his appointment, he remains a strong voice for the California agriculture on issues ranging from water to foreign trade. “Bill understands the complexity of production, food safety, environmental, water and trade issues affecting California agriculture,” said Trevino. “He brings us a seat at the table and provides a much needed balanced perspective to critical policy discussions.” Bill understands the importance of including diversity of opinions in important policy discussions.
During the time he oversaw his family’s 95-year-old farming and cattle ranching operation in Stanislaus County, Lyons has received numerous national and state awards for his environmental stewardship and conservation efforts. The family farming operation produces a wide range of agricultural commodities, including almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, corn, wheat, oats, rye, alfalfa, beans and wine grapes, as well as beef cattle.
Lyons served from 1984-1993 as a director on the Modesto Irrigation District, which serves over 250,000 electrical urban and agricultural and water customers, providing him a unique perspective on the issues facing both agriculture and urban water and electrical customers.
As a conservationist, Lyons has been recognized by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for his conservation and environmental efforts, and has received the United States Department of Agriculture National Environmentalist Award. He was selected as the western regional finalist for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 2010 Conservationist of the Year Award.
Bill’s alma mater, California State University at Chico, honored Bill in 2000 with the Distinguished Alumni Award. He and his wife, Suzy, live in Modesto and have four children and five grandchildren.
— Almond Alliance of California
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