The Fresno State Center for Agricultural Business has been renamed the Institute for Food and Agriculture as part of the center’s efforts to encourage growth and innovation in California’s food and agriculture industry.

The move was a key recommendation by the Fresno State President’s Commission on the Future of Agriculture as a means to better connect the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology with local and regional agribusiness in vital areas of programming, research, educational outreach and coordination.

“One of my highest priorities has been for Fresno State to be the leader in providing California agriculture with future employees, industry leaders and innovators in food processing and production agriculture,” said University President Joseph I. Castro. “With support building in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond for the University and our agricultural programs, the institute will play a key catalyzing role in taking the Jordan College to the next level of impact.”

The Institute for Food and Agriculture looks to expand its services, outreach and resources by leveraging industry partnerships and research efforts tied to the Jordan College’s nationally-recognized water, viticulture and enology centers along with the other academic departments.

In addition to addressing all parts of the agricultural value chain, the Institute for Food and Agriculture will continue to expand on the Center for Agricultural Business’s research and training in food and fiber systems as well as market and policy analysis.

A key addition to the organization is the creation of an industry advisory board of state agricultural leaders appointed by Castro. The group will help define important issues, collaborative research opportunities and industry support and partnership ideas.

“The advisory board will help align us with the industry’s future,” said Dr. Mechel Paggi, director of the Institute for Food and Agriculture and the Jordan College associate dean of research and collaboration. “Other important parts of the research process include exposing our staff and students to the Central Valley agriculture food value chain, and helping various companies that are important to our local and state economies become more efficient and successful.

Scheduled for its first official meeting later this summer, the Institute for Food and Agriculture’s advisory board includes Barry Bedwell, California Fresh Fruit Association president; Ryan Jacobsen, Fresno County Farm Bureau CEO/executive director; David Krause, Paramount Citrus president; Jimmy Maxey, Certified Meat Products chairman; Andrei Mikhalevsky, California Dairies president/CEO; Dennis Parnagian, Fowler Packing Company president/owner; Vincent Ricchiuti, P-R Farms/Enzo Olive Oil Company director of operations; Roger Sturdevant, Bank of the West executive vice president and Sarah Woolf, Water Wise president.

On November 4 the Institute for Food and Agriculture will hold the 34th annual Agribusiness Management Conference. Each year the conference brings together top individuals in California’s agribusiness industry, including economists, academic and business experts to discuss the economic outlook, global trade, California water quality, federal farm policy and other key issues. For more information, visit