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Women in Agriculture: Paty Lopez
Paty Lopez
Paty Lopez, a production manager for Duarte Nursery in Hughson, was bestowed the Advocacy in Action Award from the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (Photo contributed).


Stanislaus County Farm Bureau


Speaking up for what she believes in has been a lifetime motto for Paty Lopez. Her championing of agricultural issues in the Valley recently earned her the Advocacy in Action Award from the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau.

Lopez is a production manager for Duarte Nursery in Hughson. She has not only participated in Farm Bureau rallies, but has stood on the steps of the Capitol to share her views about agriculture.

Lopez moved to the Central Valley from Mexico and started working at Duarte Nursery in 1989.

“When I was hired there was one small greenhouse and about 20 workers. Today, during season there are about 1,000 people here,” shared Lopez. “I am very grateful for Jim (Duarte) giving me this opportunity, it is a great company. Jim taught me to graft. I had no idea about all that goes into growing a grape vine; grafting, potting, cleaning, down to loading the trucks.”

She said that even though she is a manager now, after three decades at Duarte, she loves to get her hands in the dirt.

Lopez learned from an early age that you have to speak up.

“It stems from my parents. My dad would speak up, he was a leader in our town in Mexico. We moved to a small town; it had no lights, no electricity. He pulled the community together and before you knew it, we had running water and electricity. You have to speak up, my dad gave us education for possibilities and taught us to have confidence,” she said.

Long before Lopez graced the Capitol steps, she was speaking up at work.

“I remember Jim was talking to us about having medical insurance, before it was a requirement, and employees were hesitant. But my daughter had a heart issue and I wanted the insurance, so I said something,” she said.

Lopez has continued to share her voice as California agriculture navigates cumbersome regulations and requirements. In 2016, Lopez voiced her concerns about AB 1066. The Assembly bill which did pass, changed the way agricultural workers earn overtime.

“People don’t understand that some companies cannot afford the overtime, or in some cases workers’ hours were cut to be able to afford payroll,” she said.

Again in 2018, Lopez and her Duarte Nursery co-workers traveled to Sacramento to fight for agriculture water.

“No water, means no food, which means no work. We are the first ones to feel the consequences of these types of rules. I don’t want these things to happen, ‘come talk to me first,’” she said.

And most recently, in a California Farm Bureau led rally, Lopez spoke passionately in opposition to AB 616. The proposed bill, which was vetoed by Governor Newsom, would have eliminated the current petition and secret-ballot election process overseen by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) and replaced it with a rigged process that effectively eliminates farmworkers’ right to vote and the secret ballot in union elections.