Head Start program honors Agriland owner

For The Madera Tribune

Madera’s Agriland CEO Jim Maxwell, with plate, stands with his family after getting recognized by the National Migrant Seasonal Head Start Program with hits Plate of Bounty Award. Maxwell was nominated by the Community Action Partnership of Madera County and received the award in Washington D.C.


The National Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Program honored Central Valley nut grower, James Maxwell of Agriland Farming Company, which is based in Madera, with the organizations’ Plate of Bounty Award at its annual conference on in March.

Nominated by the Community Action Partnership of Madera County (CAPMC) the award recognized the company’s CEO, for making a difference in the lives of seasonal farmworkers and their families.

“To be honored for what we consider common practice at Agriland Farming is humbling,” Maxwell said. “Giving back and supporting our community while making sure our employees feel like they have a safe, secure and stable workplace where they are valued and appreciated has been a foundation for our success.

“Agriland is fortunate to have more than 275 dedicated employees and feel it is our obligation to ensure more than fair standards for them. Their success is our success.”

CAPMC’s director Mattie Mendez commented at the award ceremony about how they have had the “chance to personally witness the outstanding work and significant contributions that Agriland provides their employees, especially their migrant and seasonal workers, who are many times overlooked by other employers.”

The contributions the company makes to their migrant and seasonal workforce, highlighted by CAMPC, were numerous, including a scholarship program for employee’s children, responsive and affordable healthcare, including a work site health clinic and a commitment to giving all employees a safe, secure and desirable work place.

The company encourages academic excellence for the children of their work force with their non-competitive College Bound program that provides incentives and scholarships to children of employees.

Their goal is to increase the number of employees’ children who graduate from high school and earn a four-year college degree by awarding an academic performance-based $10,000 college scholarship and a computer.

Agriland has also created a partnership with Camarena Health Centers to provide affordable health care for their employees who are likely not covered sufficiently under the Affordable Care Act.

In 2014, Agriland further acknowledged the value of their employees by being the first company in the Central Valley to sign an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor ensuring fair standards for workers. Those standards include a commitment to paying overtime, above minimum wage, a wellness plan, holiday and paid time-off, a 401(k,) retirement program, safe work environment and recourse if complaints arise.

Maxwell concluded his comments at the award ceremony by encouraging other companies to put employees first, stating that “while we are proud of the bounty we produce in the agricultural industry, our true bounty has been an incredible group of employees who make Agriland a place where we are all proud to work.”

Maxwell founded and serves as CEO of various California and Idaho agricultural companies, including Agriland Farming Company, Inc., Agri Systems, Inc., Madera Ag Supply, Inc., Pistachio Harvesting, Inc. and Growers Fig Company, Inc.

These companies combine to form a fully integrated, nationally ranked permanent crop operation specializing in almonds, pistachios, grapes, walnuts and citrus.

Related operations include an agricultural tree nursery, custom nut harvesting businesses, Idaho field crop farming, wholesaler of ag hardware, agricultural real estate brokerage, and secured ag lending.

Maxwell earned his MBA from California State University, Fresno where he also served as part-time faculty in the Sid Craig School of Business.

Prior to founding his own companies, Maxwell served as COO of a public agricultural company. He has served in various community and industry organizations and has been a volunteer at Valley Children’s Hospital for the past nine years.

The National Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Program works to ensure that quality comprehensive services are available to all eligible farmworker children and their families.

In 1999, the MSHS Conference Steering Committee instituted the Plate of Bounty Awards to acknowledge a individuals nationally who has made significant contributions to migrant and seasonal farm worker families.