Being born and raised in Colfax, CA is just as wholesome as it comes. A small town of roughly 1,000 people is home to a tight-knit, close community. This is where Nate Ray grew up camping, hunting, fishing, and had a love for sports. His love for being outside and playing sports continued after high school when Nate accepted a scholarship to Fresno State to play football where he was starting Safety and met the love of his life, Shannon. During his time in the heart of the Central Valley, he decided to pursue a career and venture into the Ag industry. Nate found a job out of college as a ranch manager/foreman working mostly with tree fruit, grapes, almonds and citrus. This gave him the jumpstart into a passion he’s thankful to have found.
Nate Ray joins us now from El Nido, CA where he’s been a part of the management team for DeJager Farms since 2010. Their operation covers over 18,000 acres of alfalfa, wheat, corn, almonds, and tomatoes across the ranches with the addition of pistachios that are to come soon. Although they primarily grow feed for all the DeJager family dairies, they’re working towards adding more permanent crops, diversifying themselves away from the normal dairy crop rotation. As General Manager, Nate handles day to day operation management of all crops and provides oversight to the crop production operation. If you happen to catch Nate away from work, you’re likely to see him busy with his family keeping up with his 3 beautiful children and all the sports they endure!
INTERVIEW W/ NATE RAY
What made you decide to get into the Ag industry?
"When I was going to school in Fresno, I just started getting summer jobs on ranches. From there, I decided I’ll get a PCA license so I declared my major in Plant Science and got my degree. I’ve never really utilized my PCA license to its potential since I went to the Ag production side!"
How has The Ag Center helped your operation run more effectively?
"Just the fact that we can come here and have multiple outlets for services that we need and can source out of one spot. It’s really easy to set things up and communicate rather than have to go out and compare. It also makes it easy from a scheduling stand point and an operation stand point."
What challenges do you see becoming more prevalent for farming in coming years?
"Water is a big one – the pumping restrictions and surface water availability being so variable depending on where you are. Water is probably our biggest concern going forward as well as labor. Rising labor costs and overtime hour laws are having us get creative and efficient. We’re trying to get ahead as much as we can investing in new technologies to help curb the rising costs. Just bigger and more efficient implements!"
How do you enjoy working and living in the country?
"It’s nice! We get to wake up every day and work outside getting our hands dirty. It’s a great place to raise a family, raise our kids. You really put it into perspective over the course of this last year how kids aren’t having the luxury to go outside during this pandemic and ride around on their bikes or go for walks. We’re really lucky and blessed to be able to raise our families out in that atmosphere."