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LOS ANGELES -- The San Diego County Farm Bureau recently named grower Henry William (Bill) Witman its 2009 Farmer of the Year. The farm bureau presented the award to Mr. Witman Nov. 11 at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, CA.

Mr. Witman supplies avocados to Giumarra Agricom International LLC, based in Escondido.

"We are proud to be associated with Bill Witman not only as a grower and partner but also as a friend. It's dedicated growers like Bill that are the foundation for 'Nature's Partner' avocados," Bruce Dowhan, general manager of Giumarra Agricom, said in a Nov. 30 press release from the farm bureau.

Mr. Witman owns Witman Ranch in San Diego, CA. He was a founding member of the San Pasqual Agricultural Association, past president of the La Verne Co-op Lemon Association, and he remains an active member of the University of Californias Riverside Chancellor's Agricultural Advisory Council. The Witman family, which has farmed land in the area for more than 50 years, currently grows avocados, lemons and corn.

"People look up to Bill and listen when he talks," Mike Mellano Sr. said in the press release. "He can say what people may not particularly want to hear but need to hear, and say it without causing a confrontation."

Mr. Mellano is a longtime member of the farm bureau and has also been a longtime member of the Riverside Chancellor's Agricultural Advisory Council. The farm bureau named him Farmer of the Year in 1988.

The San Diego County Farm Bureau is a non-profit trade organization founded in 1913 with a mission to represent San Diego County agriculture. It currently has more than 7,000 members.