Although Pamela Sweeten won’t be found tilling soil on a ranch, the Hilmar native has a comprehensive background in agriculture that has led her to the position of California Women for Agriculture Representative on the Stanislaus County Agricultural Advisory Committee. Sweeten was appointed by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 1.
Sweeten’s experience dates back to 1991, when she worked for an almond processing plant in Los Banos. When her son, an active member of 4-H graduated to FFA in 2003, Sweeten decided it was time for her to start contributing to an agricultural cause she cared about: having a safe, domestic food supply.
She founded P. Sweeten Consulting, formerly known as M&M Marketing, and turned an interest into a business. The company focuses on food safety and traceability. Sweeten stresses that it is not only up to the farmer to promote safe food practices.
“We as consumers have to be responsible for part of the process as well,” said Sweeten.
Around the same time as founding her company, Sweeten joined California Women for Agriculture. Through CWA, Sweeten explored a host of leadership opportunities and landed the position of National Vice President of Education of American Agra-Women from 2008 to 2009.
“Educating consumers, but also educating the youth about opportunities that exist in agriculture, is very important to me,” Sweeten said.
Sweeten's next project is spearheading a regional conference titled the California Women’s Agriculture Leadership Conference. The conference will expose women and students to the opportunities that exist in agriculture. Sweeten wants to educate the attendees by providing networking and mentoring opportunities in the industry.
Through American Agra-women Sweeten has also aided in legislative processes at the state and national level. She has done workshops with the FDA to educate consumers and farmers.
With the Food Safety Modernization Act, Sweeten believes that there is something for everyone involved in the process of food production, from the farming to the trucking. Sweeten believes that each component of food production should be checked, but that everyone can benefit from this process.
In 2009, Sweeten ran for the TID Board of Directors, an experience she deems educational. Her aspiration to give the consumer a voice follows her as she occupies her new role at the Agricultural Advisory Committee.
“What’s unique about my voice is that I am not a farmer… the voice that I bring, coming from CWA, will allow me to contribute in a different way,” said Sweeten.
The Agricultural Advisory Committee meets at 8 a.m. the first Monday of each month at the Stanislaus County Agricultural Center. Meetings are open to the public.