May 14, 2021

Ag Leadership Program Alters Career Path

By Tim Linden

Director profile: Loren Booth, President, Booth Ranches, Orange Cove, CA
WG Board Member 2009-2012, 2021-present

Otis Booth Jr. inherited a 40-acre citrus ranch in the San Joaquin Valley from his maternal grandfather in the 1950s and became an absentee owner and investor, while he raised his family in the Los Angeles area city of Pasadena.

While working for the Los Angeles Times and afterwards, Booth expanded his agricultural holdings which eventually grew to 2500 acres of citrus and a cattle operation. He was instrumental in developing the Hills Valley and the irrigation district that bears its name in Tulare County. While her father invested in agriculture, Loren Booth grew up in Pasadena without a hands-on devotion to ag, but an interest in it. After graduating from college with an ag degree and getting married, she did move to the San Joaquin Valley and got involved in cattle ranching, working for her father. She liked the business, which led her to apply to the California Agricultural Leadership Program. Her first attempt didn’t make the grade but she applied again and did become a member of Class 27 in the late 1990s.

Booth says participation in that class changed her life. “I loved the people I met, and I loved their individual stories. Ag Leadership gave me confidence and showed me that there were so many opportunities out there.”

She jumped into the family citrus operation with both feet and began taking the various facets in-house. “We started with the farming operation. My first hire was Bryan Harden as our PCA and he is still with us today.”

They also had to buy trucks and insurance, establish a payroll system and hire many employees. In 2003, Booth Ranches brought the packing operation in-house by purchasing a packing shed. It has since added another. In 2005, she brought in a sales team and became even more vertically integrated.

Booth quips that you learn by making mistakes and she made a lot of them as everything was a new experience. But they also prospered, and the acreage continued to expand. They now farm 7,500 acres of citrus throughout the San Joaquin Valley. The Booth advantage is that the owner’s name is on the box and the only fruit that goes into that box is owned by Booth Ranches. She said that gives the company a unique advantage over its competition. “We serve a niche. If you want a good orange, buy our fruit.”

Booth Ranches continues to expand and grow, and the owner continues to try new things. The company now raises show horses of the reining horse variety, and Booth is working with university researchers on trying to use the byproduct of the horse operation to create a compost that will improve the soil for the citrus groves.

Loren was elected to the Western Growers Board last fall, which is her second stint on the board. She was on the board in the latter stages of the first decade of this century but stepped down when she got more heavily involved on the board of the California Agricultural Leadership Program that she so dearly loved. That program was going through bankruptcy and she had to pick and choose how to spend her volunteer hours. She is very happy to be back on the WG Board as she has long been an admirer of the organization and the work it accomplishes.


The Short & Sweet

Name: Loren Booth

Title: President/Owner Booth Ranches

Birthplace and Childhood Years: Pasadena, CA

Education: Graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1975 with a BA in Animal Science.

Family: Son Jake Sill lives in Fresno, CA; Daughter Blair Moffett lives in Scottsdale, AZ

Enjoyable Pastime: Loren is an avid reader. Among her latest reads that she recommends are “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah; and “Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship” by Greg Boyle. She also recommends Boyle’s earlier book “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.”

Her Defining Moment: Being Part of California Ag Leadership Program. “It changed my life.”

Last Big Trip: Went to France before the shutdown.

The COVID Year: “We recently started a horse operation raising ‘reining horses.’ I spent a lot of time this past year with that.” She also camped out at her home in Santa Barbara.

Fun Fact: During the Ag Leadership Program, Loren met Greg Boyle, who is a Jesuit priest, author and founder/director of Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program. “He is an amazing man. I highly recommend his books.”

Fun Fact #2: For more about Loren, listen to Episode #165 (March 30, 2021) of The Modern Acre, wherever you get your podcasts. It is titled: “Bringing Farming In-House with Loren Booth.”