MERCED — Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo, an outspoken voice for county farmers and their interests, resigned Thursday after six years as executive director of the Merced County Farm Bureau, she said.
Pedrozo, who was not shy when expressing her opinions, was known for aggressively fighting development to save what she saw as the state's increasingly threatened agricultural land.
She gave no reason for her sudden departure other than saying, "It was time." She said she was legally bound from elaborating on her departure.
She does not have any immediate plans for the future, she said, but she will stay active as an advocate for farmers. She is still a farm bureau member and the state president of California Women for Agriculture.
Farm Bureau President Peter Koch did not elaborate on why she left. "She resigned on her own will and that's all I can say," he said.
No new executive director has been named, he said.
Pedrozo took charge of the nonprofit in October 2003, replacing Ed Pattison. Before leading the bureau, Pedrozo worked for the American Farmland Trust for three years.
Pedrozo moved to Merced in her senior year in high school when her father retired from the Navy. Both her parents were born and raised in Merced.
As the most visible person in the Farm Bureau and its day to day chief, Pedrozo could be found at city council and irrigation district meetings making sure agricultural interests were being looked after.
Under her leadership, the Farm Bureau helped scuttle plans for the failed Riverside Motorsports Park near Atwater, sued the city of Livingston over its growth-happy master plan and kept a watchful eye on the University of California at Merced's growth.
Couldn't always hold tongue
But her strident advocacy did not always sit well with everyone.
Maxwell Norton, a farm adviser at the UC Cooperative Extension, said Pedrozo's aggressive nature may have rubbed some people wrong, especially those in the building industry. "I think some people may have been put off by her outspoken nature," said Norton.
Even Pedrozo admits it was hard for her to hold her tongue at times. "The most difficult thing was not cussing out people, 'cause many of them were worthy of it," Pedrozo said. She never refrained from opining, no matter who she faced. She often scolded the Board of Supervisors, which included her brother-in-law John Pedrozo, for what she considered their bad planning decisions.
No matter what style she used, she was an effective advocate, say some.
Joe Enos, a local farmer and Farm Bureau board member, said Pedrozo has been nothing but an asset to the organization. "She's hit us a lot of home runs," he said.
Pedrozo said she is proudest of the work she did to bring together farmers and nonfarmers on land use issues.
"I have learned so much in the past six years," she said.