MALT hails Ralph Grossi


Progressive rancher and revered agricultural advocate Ralph Grossi has joined the board of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust, the nonprofit announced this week. 

The third generation of one of the county’s oldest ranching families, Mr. Grossi served as MALT’s first chairman after the nonprofit’s founding in 1980. He went on to lead the Washington-based American Farmland Trust for over two decades, during which time he flew home on every six weeks to help manage the family dairy. He returned to West Marin permanently in 2008.

“My interest in conservation was just a natural thing,” Mr. Grossi, who grew up on an 870-acre dairy ranch in Indian Valley, told this newspaper in 2011. “It was embedded in the fact that our family had been there for decades, and how we cared for the land was crucial to our legacy.” 

His appointment follows the elections in the past year of ranchers Bill Barboni II and Sam Dolcini, and helps satisfy the group’s requirement that half of the 18 members of the board be agricultural producers.

Farmland protected by MALT now numbers more than 46,000 acres on 72 family farms and ranches. This year, under the new leadership of Jamison Watts, the nonprofit introduced a new, though voluntary, condition on its conservation easements that ensures lands will remain in commercial agricultural production, generally at historic levels.

For Mr. Grossi, “There’s still a lot of work to be done, like finding less punitive ways to get these farms into the hands of future generations. We have to solve the state tax issue, and we have to continue to promote a transition to different types of agricultural marketing and crops.”