John Chandler, a fourth-generation farmer, is no stranger to agriculture. He grew up on his family’s farm. It’s where he spent his youth and summers and developed his love for agriculture.
His family has been farming the same land, located between Fowler and Selma, for more than 120 years. “There is a great respect for each generation,” said Chandler of his family’s farm. “There is more of a legacy, or duty, to maintain and continue this great gift.”
John farms with his parents, Bill and Carol. His brother, Tom, plans to return to the family farm soon. The family grows raisin and wine grapes, almonds, peaches, plums and nectarines.
Upon graduating from high school, Chandler attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. After receiving his degree in fruit science, his intent was to go straight in to production agriculture. However, at the time, farming didn’t seem like the best avenue to pursue. He ended up taking a job in his second passion, politics and policy, where he worked for Congressman Doug Ose in Washington D.C.
Chandler lived on Capitol Hill in 2001, both before and after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. He saw how the city changed during this period.
After living in D.C., he found that he missed the open space and flexibility to move around that can be experienced in the country. That’s when he received a call from then-congressional candidate, Devin Nunes, to come work for his campaign. It was an opportunity Chandler accepted that moved him back to California.
After Congressman Nunes was elected, Chandler spent two years in Sacramento with the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) as a field representative. In this position, he traveled the state and worked with both rural and urban water agencies talking with leaders about what was happening at the state level in regards to water.
He was encouraged by a friend to apply for an opening with the Senate Agriculture Committee. He agreed, with the intent of keeping his interviewing skills polished. When he received the call offering him the job, he was shocked. After considering the opportunity, he accepted the position and was hired by state Senator Jeff Denham, the chair of the committee at the time.
He worked as the committee’s consultant for eight years. His role was to be a nonpartisan voice senators could inquire to. He objectively analyzed and reported on bills that came before the committee. This job also gave him the opportunity to interact with lots of agricultural groups. The Senate Agriculture Committee is a small committee, said Chandler.
After spending almost a decade in his position, he found that his job was beginning to get repetitive and very routine. It was at this time he decided he was ready to return to the farm.
He returned home in 2012 before the beginning of harvest at the end of May. “I left work in Sacramento on a Friday and began work on the farm on a Monday,” said Chandler.
“I forgot how long I had been gone from production agriculture,” said Chandler. Since he’s returned, he has been working with his father, Bill, getting back into the farming routine and relearning and updating himself on advancements in technology and science.
Being a member of the Fresno County Farm Bureau Board of Directors is “a great opportunity to advocate and educate on behalf of agriculture,” said Chandler. “Farm Bureau helps create an agricultural community.”
This is an opportunity for me to get really engaged by meeting, learning and networking with other farmers in the area, as well as use all of the skills gained while working with politics, said Chandler. “Farm Bureau is a great vehicle for that,” he added.
In his free time, Chandler enjoys volunteering at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento. He spends time doing mechanical work on the trains and railroads. His volunteer involvement at the museum has encouraged him to get involved and volunteer with other organizations. He also spends his time volunteering on political campaigns.
In addition, at the farm, he has taken on the project of restoring a Ford Model T truck. He thought it was a great way to build his mechanical skills and learn how motors work. “It’s challenging, both mentally and physically,” said Chandler.
Meet Your Board Members Profile: Ag Today, Nov 12
By: Katie Rodgers