2022 Ag Spotlight: SLO County Farm Bureau
Meet Brent Burchett, executive director of the SLO County Farm Bureau
Say hello to Brent Burchett, executive director of the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau! A longtime member of the ag community, Brent serves as an advocate for SLO County farmers, ranchers, and agriculture businesses.
“I work with elected officials and regulators at the local, state, and federal level to make sure agriculture is represented in the policymaking process,” he said. “My job is to educate our local decision-makers about the importance of SLO County's $2.5 billion agriculture economy.”
Brent grew up on a grain and tobacco farm in western Kentucky, where his parents still farm full-time today. He worked for the Kentucky Livestock Coalition, Kentucky Soybean Association, and Kentucky Department of Agriculture before moving to SLO County in 2019 to head up the SLO County Farm Bureau. His wife, Kiah Twisselman Burchett, and her family raise cattle in the Carrisa Plains.
A lot goes into running the Farm Bureau. On any given day, you’ll find Brent:
- Meeting SLO County supervisors to discuss the $2.5 billion ag economy.
- Speaking about agriculture on the radio
- Helping Farm Bureau members deal with regulatory issues
- Visiting farms and ranches to stay current on the multitude of issues impacting our local producers
“My first month on the job, one of my Farm Bureau board members took me on a tour of vegetable fields in Arroyo Grande. We drove down Highway 1/Cabrillo Highway near Oceano over this big hill that gave an incredible view of broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, and strawberry fields,” he said.
“It impressed upon me the importance of our agriculture industry here and still motivates me in my work. When you spend time with the people who put food on your table, it changes the way you view what you see in the grocery stores. So much labor and planning goes into that salad you take for granted. That hill is still one of my favorite views in SLO County.”
Brent believes the Farm Bureau’s greatest strength is its ability to represent all commodities, but that means he needs to understand many unique industries—cattle, row crops, wine grapes, citrus, floral, seed production, crop advisors, farm equipment, and others.
“If you get a group of farmers and ranchers together in a room, they all have their own opinions and perspectives, and it's my job to find consensus where we can and speak with a unified voice to elected officials,” he said.
He thinks the local ag community’s greatest challenges are dealing with regulations and labor and water shortages.
“SLO County has the most successful, innovative and resilient farmers in the world. Their ability to survive in California's extreme regulatory environment and still produce abundant and affordable food continues to amaze me,” Brent said. “We understand the need to continue improving our practices, it's inherent in everything we do today and the way we plan for our future, but this state has forgotten the realities of producing food.”