Stefan Parnay, who has been the acting agricultural commissioner for Marin County since September, has been appointed to the post.
“Stefan has served the county well for many years as deputy director and most recently as interim director,” said county administrator Matthew Hymel. “We are fortunate to have someone with Stefan’s skills and abilities to lead the department, especially since we are facing the challenges of a major drought. “
Parnay’s appointment is expected to be approved by the supervisory board on Tuesday. His starting annual salary will be $ 173,680.
“The drought for the agricultural industry is extremely serious,” Parnay said. “Plus, responding to the pandemic has been a big challenge as well, so for the agriculture industry it’s really a double whammy. “
Marin’s agricultural commissioner oversees 14 employees and an annual budget of $ 3 million. The functions of the department include promoting sustainable agricultural practices through an organic certification program; provide education on integrated pest management strategies; inspect plant shipments for invasive pests; inspect farmers’ markets; and produce an annual livestock and crop report.
The department also verifies the accuracy of retail prices of products at the time of sale to ensure consumers are receiving the lowest advertised or displayed price. Parnay said earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic that some of the department’s price inspections needed to be cut.
“We have opened up to doing more inspections over the past few months,” Parnay said. “There is still work to be done to standardize the operations of the department. “
Prior to joining Marin, Parnay worked for Sonoma County as Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture for five years and as Deputy Chief Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture for six years. He grew up in Sevastopol and received a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
Due to the drought, dairy and beef herders are running out of water and enough grass for their herds. The McClure Dairy, the oldest dairy on the Point Reyes National Coast, recently announced it will cease operations.
“It’s really hard to see that happen,” Parnay said. “I am very concerned that other farms cannot continue due to the drought. “
Parnay said he heard that about half of the county’s 300 acres of crops would be allowed to lie fallow due to lack of water.
He asked supervisors to allocate $ 150,000 to help dairies and ranchers cover the cost of trucking water for their animals. Supervisors are expected to make a decision during budget discussions at the end of June.
“I hope we will have some flexibility to use this money to support the agriculture industry as a whole,” Parnay said. “There isn’t a lot of short-term support for agricultural producers who fallow land. I am also looking at possible funding to help support our crop producers.
Former Agriculture Commissioner Stacy Carlsen has retired.