CFBF honors C. Paul Johnson and Dan Byrne
Issue Date: December 17, 2008
C. Paul Johnson, center, with his wife Shirley, received the Distinguished Service Award from CFBF President Doug Mosebar. The award recognized Johnson's 60-plus years of service to agriculture and his community.
By Brandon Souza
Recognized for their enduring passion for California family farms and ranches, two men received the California Farm Bureau Federation's highest honor during the organization's annual meeting in Burlingame last week.
Tulare County farm leader C. Paul Johnson and the late Dan Byrne, a cattle rancher and conservationist from Modoc County, each received the Distinguished Service Award for their dedication to agriculture.
Johnson has devoted more than 60 years of service to Farm Bureau and to individual commodity groups. His commitment to agriculture began as a leader in the Young Farmer and Rancher program in the 1950s. He chaired the CFBF YF&R Committee in 1957 and served as vice chair of the American Farm Bureau Federation YF&R Committee the following year.
After relocating from Ventura County to Tulare County in the early 1960s, Johnson and his wife Shirley settled on 1,000 acres along the St. John's River near Visalia. He went on to serve as president of Tulare County Farm Bureau in 1968, as a CFBF district director from 1978 to 1984 and as a delegate to the CFBF Annual Meeting for 10 years.
In addition, Johnson was actively involved in founding the California Walnut Commission, including service as its chairman, and has served on the boards of the California Bean and Rice Cooperative and the Acala Cotton Board.
Johnson, who farmed citrus fruit, walnuts, cotton, beans and olives, has traveled extensively with his wife, often representing Farm Bureau or other agricultural and service organizations.
In presenting the award, CFBF President Doug Mosebar said Johnson "strives to share his leadership ability across all sectors of agriculture. He is a role model for all young people in agriculture and it is a distinct pleasure that we add his name to our list of honorees."
Ed Needham, the current president of the Tulare County Farm Bureau, called Johnson's service to California agriculture extraordinary.
"Our county is honored that he is still an active leader and member of our organization," wrote Needham in nominating Johnson for the award. "His active participation in all of his activities demonstrates Paul's commitment to family and community."
Dan Byrne, a leading Northern California cattle rancher and conservationist, received the Distinguished Service Award posthumously. Byrne was recognized for service to Farm Bureau and his commitment to land stewardship.
Byrne's award, presented posthumously, was accepted on stage by his wife Geri, brother and business partner Mike, and other members of his family.
Citing his work toward balancing conservation and agricultural production, Mosebar praised Byrne's efforts for land stewardship. He said the Byrne Brothers Ranch "proves that human presence on the landscape can, in fact, enhance the environment."
Noting that Byrne frequently welcomed researchers onto the family ranch to conduct studies and field trials, Mosebar said Byrne "understood the common goals of ranchers and environmentalists, and how we can cooperate to stay in business while enhancing the land we live on."
A lifelong Farm Bureau member, Byrne was highly regarded for his wit, diplomacy and practical knowledge. He was a former president of the Modoc County Farm Bureau who served as a valued member of the California Farm Bureau Public Lands Advisory Committee. Since 2005, he had served as a CFBF director for District 19, representing the counties of Lassen, Plumas-Sierra and Modoc, before he passed away in October.
In addition to Farm Bureau, Byrne was a member of the California Cattlemen's Association and of the Modoc County Republican Central Committee. Honored several times for his commitment to conservation efforts, he worked alongside his brother to ensure that both their private land and the 100,000 acres of public land that their cattle grazed was maintained in a way that balanced economic and environmental viability.
"We know he is watching, certainly with his trademark smile on his face," concluded Mosebar.
At the conclusion of the Annual Meeting, Geri Byrne was elected to the CFBF board to fill her late husband's position.
The California Farm Bureau has honored individuals with its Distinguished Service Award each year since 1953.
(Brandon Souza is a reporter for Ag Alert. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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