California governor reappoints EDF working lands director to state food and agriculture board

Eric Holst

Eric Holst, director of EDF’s working lands program

Eric Holst, senior director of Environmental Defense Fund’s working lands program, has been reappointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture by Governor Jerry Brown.

Holst has served on the board – a fifteen-member state board appointed by the governor to represent a range of agricultural commodities, geographic regions and academic systems – since 2012. The board encourages public participation and input in all matters concerning agriculture and food policy within the state, from hunger and malnutrition to climate change and environmental markets. But the dominant focus over the last year has been drought and how to mitigate impacts on California agriculture.

A natural choice

Holst has been a leader in developing innovative partnerships with farmers, ranchers and foresters to improve environmental and economic performance on working lands for more than a decade, both in California and elsewhere across the country.

Since he arrived at EDF in 2006 (based in Sacramento), Holst has worked with landowners to develop conservation tools like habitat exchanges that benefit agriculture and the environment. He is an expert in developing strategies that improve livelihoods and environmental conditions on working forests, farms and ranches.

Holst was previously executive director of the Resources Legacy Fund and program officer for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. He has also worked for the Rainforest Alliance and the Ford Foundation.

A voice for the environment

Craig McNamara, President of Sierra Orchards and the California State Board of Food and Agriculture

Craig McNamara, President of Sierra Orchards and the California State Board of Food and Agriculture

“Eric’s participation on the State Board of Food and Agriculture is critical in accomplishing the board’s mission of advising both the governor and the secretary of agriculture on all issues pertaining to California agriculture,” said Robert Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and Sierra Orchards, a diversified farming operation producing primarily organic walnuts.

Holst got to know McNamara about 10 years ago when he worked as a consultant to the Center for Land Based Learning, a nonprofit that McNamara founded.

“Craig has been an inspiration to me as someone who has found a way to be a great farmer while prioritizing environmental stewardship,” Holst said.

“As one of two board members representing the environmental community, Eric contributes significantly on issues pertaining to regulations, water and California’s continuing drought,” McNamara said. “We are very pleased that he will be serving another four year term on the board.”

California’s farmers, ranchers and foresters provide numerous benefits to the people of California including food, fiber and numerous ecosystem benefits such as clean air and wildlife habitat.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue representing these interests and to bringing wider-recognition to the multiple environmental benefits provided by California’s working lands,” Holst said.


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