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June 19, 2021

Scheer leaving Santa Clara County Farm Bureau

When local farmers needed a unified voice in a political forum to fight for their way of life, for the last four years or so they have turned to the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau and, specifically, its Executive Director Jennifer Scheer.
The 29-year-old, fourth-generation farmer—who grew up on her family’s farm in Butte County—made sure that voice was heard at County Board of Supervisors and Santa Clara Valley Water District meetings.
“She was probably the most qualified, best person that they’ve ever had,” said local farmer Andy Mariani, owner of Andy’s cherry orchard in Morgan Hill. “Young, but energetic, extremely talented and articulate. She was tireless.”
But Scheer—who already owns a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Chico State University—is leaving her post at the Farm Bureau (her last day being June 27). She plans to devote her time to furthering her education at UC Davis, where she will go for a Master’s degree in agricultural and resource economics.
“It’s bittersweet for me,” said Scheer of her decision. “I had a really great experience here…It helped me grow professionally and personally.”
With her older brother being groomed to run the family farm, Scheer—with a strong interest in ag policy and a college degree—was hired at the Farm Bureau in Jan. 2010 and immediately started to make an impact as a relentless advocate for local farmers.
“I heard my parents complaining at the dinner table (about agricultural issues)…and I wanted to support the industry in some way,” Scheer said. “I like the Farm Bureau specifically because it’s a unified voice for agriculture.”
During her four-year tenure, Scheer advocated against the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan—and, although it was adopted one year ago, helped include provisions that reduced the cost of the 50-year program from $1 billion to $700 million. When the county proposed a minimum wage standard for unincorporated areas, Scheer went to battle for the farmers—convincing the Board of Supervisors to abandon the measure.
“It was a competitive disadvantage for local farmers compared to any other county in the state,” Scheer recalled. “It had a lot of support from the Board of Supervisors, but we were able to show them how impactful and burdensome it would be.”
Scheer has been at the forefront of the debate between SCVWD officials and local farmers regarding the use of surface water. For some farmers, it continues to be their only water source for their crops and orchards. Due to severe drought conditions, SCVWD officials planned to cut them off completely. They have since backed off that stance, in part because of Scheer, and instead are working with farmers to find other water sources.
“I’ve really enjoyed the position and a big part of that is the people,” Scheer said. “Santa Clara County is a wonderful area with a great community. Agriculture here has a lot of potential.”
When learning of Scheer’s departure, the Board of Directors for SCVWD decided to honor her as “an effective and dedicated advocate for the Santa Clara County Farm Bureau,” and will be presenting her with a proclamation at the June 24 meeting.
It outlines how Scheer had her hands in just about everything, participating in the Pajaro River Watershed Council, the AV Water Quality Alliance, the Perchlorate Community Advisory Committee and the Wastewater Advisory Group. She also served as the Treasurer of the Country Crossroads regional farm trails map, was part of the Morgan Hill Times editorial board, blogged for the Gilroy Dispatch, and was a primary author in the Assessment of the Santa Clara County Food System prepared by the local Food System Alliance, according to the SCVWD resolution.
“I appreciate that even though we sparred on some things —and went hand in hand on others—that they were able to respect our position and our approach to them across all issues,” said Scheer of the SCVWD recognition. “That makes me feel that I’ve done a good job representing (the local farmers).”
The Santa Clara County Farm Bureau—founded in 1933 with to protect and promote agricultural interests for its now 300 agricultural members and 1,300 associate members—currently has the Executive Director job opening posted on its website.
“I’m sorry to see her go but, on the other hand, she’s going back to school and it’s a fantastic opportunity for her and I wish her well,” said Mariani, who hopes the Farm Bureau can find a replacement “close to (Scheer’s) qualifications and energy.”

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