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Rick Tomlinson new California Strawberry Commission president

Citing the need for continuity and expertise in environmental issues, the California Strawberry Commission board of directors  announced its unanimous decision to name Rick Olivares Tomlinson as its next president, effective immediately.

Tomlinson fills the position after previous president Mark Murai transitioned out of the role to pursue a new opportunity in the private sector. Tomlinson has served as the commission’s vice president of public policy for the past eight years.

“After conducting an extensive search and interview process, Rick emerged as the perfect choice due to his experience, passion and vision for leading our industry in the coming years,” Victor Ramirez, chairman of the commission, said in a press release.

“From advancing public policy and initiating innovative research to advocating for immigration reform and protecting our ability to compete in the global marketplace, Tomlinson has a unique grasp of the complex issues facing California’s 400 family strawberry farmers and 70 shippers and processors,” said Ramirez. “More importantly, he has proven leadership skills necessary for addressing our key challenges.”

During his eight years with the commission, Tomlinson was part of the leadership team that spearheaded the strawberry commission’s groundbreaking efforts to protect the ozone through pesticide reduction practices that earned the commission the U.S. EPA’s Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award. He also fostered a constructive partnership with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation in a joint research effort to find alternatives to fumigant pesticides. Most recently, Tomlinson helped execute an agreement with Cal Poly SLO to establish the Strawberry Sustainability & Research Center at the San Luis Obispo campus.

Tomlinson, 47, worked for the California Environmental Protection Agency before joining the commission.

“It is an honor and privilege to not only represent the farmers who grow this quintessential California crop, but also the tens of thousands of people responsible for supplying the nation with nearly 90 percent of all conventionally grown and organic strawberries,” Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson also noted, “It is especially gratifying to work on behalf of a crop that has provided countless opportunities for immigrants to achieve the American dream through hard work in strawberry fields. I know first-hand the critical role strawberries play in communities throughout the Central Coast. To be part of this agricultural continuum is truly humbling.”