The APMA's 35th Annual Forum Highlights Leaders and Programs

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Fri. February 20th, 2015 - by Jordan Okumura-Wright

SALINAS, CA - The Agricultural Personnel Management Association (APMA) just hosted its 35th Annual Forum, with a record number of over 250 Human Resource and Safety professionals in attendance.

The APMA has been serving its members in agriculture since 1981 when it was founded by some rather recognizable names in the industry including Limoneira, Ocean Mist, Bonita/Betteravia, and Paramount Citrus*.

“One of the main objectives for APMA is to promote networking among members and encourage them to share resources and information to succeed in their jobs,” Julia Belliard, Executive Director of APMA, said.

APMA 35th Annual Forum

The Forum presents the opportunity for HR and safety professionals, company representatives, attorneys and others who work in the agricultural industry to come together over the course of a few days and talk about regulations, industry challenges, and potential solutions.

This year’s event was held at the Monterey Plaza in Monterey, CA, from the 28th through the 30th of January. The nonprofit organization is the founder of the first human resources certification course that is specific to agriculture, which was a focal highlight of the conference.

“This year, we will honor the fifth graduating class of Human Resource Professionals in Agriculture (HRPA™) at the Annual Dinner,” Joseph Mallobox, President of APMA and Corporate HR Director for Taylor Fresh Foods, said in his opening speech. “It is also our largest group to date of graduates. Our Board of Directors works diligently throughout the year to expand the scope of this program and to bring to our attendees a wide variety of speakers and topics. Coinciding with the educational experience is an opportunity to network with colleagues, which in and of itself is a valuable asset toward developing professionally and enhancing one’s knowledge.”

Joseph Mallobox (left), APMA President & Corp. HR Director for Taylor Fresh Foods

The idea for the program was born eight years ago, with the first class of five students graduating in 2011. This year the nonprofit celebrates the graduation of 60 students, its largest class to date.A 2015 Graduate receives her certificate

“I was already part of the board when the certification program started, so I had an opportunity to be a part of it,” Julio Sanchez, APMA Vice President and General Manager for RAMCO Enterprises, said. “Today my involvement continues as an instructor for one of its modules. It’s great to spend some class time with human resource individuals who are starting their careers, or people who have been in the business for years but never had the unique opportunity to be certified from an agricultural aspect.”

The latest perk of attendance is that APMA now offers a human resource certification course while at the forum as a bonus, as well as 23 other educational sessions.  “This course allows participants to experience and learn more about the HRPA program, in addition to remaining through the full three days of the Forum,” Sanchez said.

Other key highlights of the forum included an opening by James Houston, Undersecretary for California Department of Food and Agriculture on Outlook for Agriculture for 2015, a luncheon presentation by Philip Taluban, CFO of Ocean Mist on the work they’ve done with Human Resources, and a closing note by Lourdes Gonzalez, HR Director for Gowan Company on Globalization of Agriculture.

Kathleen Thompson, HR Director for Limoneira, and Lourdes Gonzalez also received the first two Visionary Leadership Awards in recognition of their efforts to the development of the Human Resource Professional Program, providing an opportunity for the unique needs of the agricultural industry within Human Resources.

“I just want people to know we are a resource,” Belliard said. “We are a vehicle for agriculture education and information.”

Mallobox personally thanked the Agricultural Safety and Health Council of America (ASHCA) for Health & Safety track, Deason Law and Littler for the Global track in his presentation recognizing the Forum’s very first specific track sponsors, making the quality of the occasion possible.

*Full list of APMA Founders:

UC Ag Extension and several regional Grower-Shipper Associations

Farm Employers Labor Service

D’Arrigo Bros.


Limoneira Company

JG Boswell Company

Harris Farms/Ranch

Ocean Mist

Sun World

Mann Packing

Monterey Mushrooms

Bay City Flower

Borba Agribusiness

The Nunes Company

Paraiso Vineyards

Zacky Farms

Paramount Citrus

Burchell Nursery