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Seal of Sutter County, California

Sutter County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office


Sutter County appointed its first Board of Horticultural Commissioners in 1887. Harry Stabler was appointed as Sutter County’s first official Horticultural Commissioner in 1889. In 1929, the title was changed to County Agricultural Commissioner.

Today, the office has 19 full-time employees and four seasonal employees. The department also has an assistant agricultural commissioner/sealer, three deputy agricultural commissioner/sealers, 11 agricultural standards biologists, and three administrative support staffers.

photograph of Sutter County Agricultural Commissioner Lisa Herbert

The commissioner:

Lisa Herbert was appointed Sutter County’s agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights & measures in February 2016.

"I’m proud to be the first woman Agricultural Commissioner in Sutter County," she said. Herbert began her career 22 years ago with the Sutter County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office as an agricultural standards biologist. Four years later, she was promoted to supervising agricultural standards biologist. She was then promoted to assistant director of weights and measures before her appointment as agricultural commissioner.

Herbert was born in Bellflower and raised in Long Beach. She moved to Live Oak, Sutter County, in the seventh grade. She graduated from Live Oak High School and attended Yuba College before attending CSU Sacramento. She graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in environmental studies in 1995.

Herbert is active in the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA). She was CACASA’s secretary for the past two years and is currently vice president of Agricultural Affairs. She also represented CACASA as part of a Washington D.C. delegation. Herbert is a member of the Chlorpyrifos Alternatives Work Group, formed when the state cancelled the insecticide. She was recently appointed to the California Department of Food and Agriculture Industrial Hemp Advisory Board.

Top issues:

Sutter County is heavily agricultural. The county’s top crop is rice, with 100,000 acres planted annually. Other important crops include walnuts, prunes, nursery products, cling peaches, almonds and processing tomatoes.

A Sutter County rice farm

New rice pests - like armyworms and weedy rice - are of particular concern for the office.

"We have five dedicated agricultural standards biologists within the Pesticide Use Enforcement program to assist our growers with interpretation and regulatory assistance through the year," she added. "During the rice growing season, staff is in the field seven days a week monitoring label - required water - hold restrictions and county permit conditions compliance to protect sensitive crops and the environment."

A commercial hemp plant

Sutter County is also allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp.

"Our office has spent an incredible amount of time and resources with this brand-new agricultural commodity," she said. "In 2019, we had 820 acres registered and another 180 acres in research, which is exempt from regulatory registration and sampling. Industrial hemp has few registered pesticides and pest pressure can be a significant issue." COVID-19 has posed some challenges, including shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), she said.

"Early on, we knew agriculture was essential and our office went the extra mile to ensure our growers could continue to operate effectively and safely," she said. "A shortage of Ag PPE caused additional hardships for the industry. In coordination with DPR, CDFA and CalOES, we were able to secure surgical-type masks for farmers and farm workers to aid in the prevention of COVID-19. A joint effort with neighboring Yuba County Ag Department, we have given out 155,000 masks to-date."

The office just received 7,600 N95 masks and is planning distribution to growers soon.

Trends seen:

A row of blooming almond trees

Sutter County works with homeowners and growers to mitigate to potential conflicts between farmers and suburban residents.

"Pesticide application and farming activity issues has staff working year-round to ensure applications are compliant with state and county requirements."

Greatest accomplishments:

Sutter County has a very successful pesticide-container recycling program. More than 1 million pounds of pesticide containers have been recycled over the past 12 years, she said.

The office also published its first report on agriculture’s economic-contributions to Sutter County. This "Crop Report Plus" showed that, in 2017, agriculture contributed $1.48 billion to the local economy. It also showed one in seven jobs in the county are agricultural.

A combine for harvesting rice

Going forward:

The Sutter County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office holds four continuing education meetings annually, as well as employee safety trainings. Staff also attends industry meetings when asked.

"Our office has an active role with the Yuba-Sutter SpraySafe Event put on by the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau annually," she said. "This year, we had well over 400 attendees.