by Ag Council President Emily Rooney

Where do I begin to describe the impact of Senator Dianne Feinstein and encapsulate her as a person?  She was a powerhouse.  Her policy acumen was unparalleled.  Her influence in California and our nation was enormous, and her legacy is all around us. 

The senator empowered people seeking to achieve greater heights, including inspiring women to run for elected office.  I likely would not be in the position I am today had she not been such a trailblazer.

The passing of Senator Feinstein is a loss for the U.S. Senate, agriculture, water policy, women in politics, and anyone who values bipartisanship. Her legacy reminds us of the importance of reaching across the aisle to find common ground and the need for strong female leaders in our government. She inspired me and many others to pursue public service, and her impact will be felt for generations to come.

Senator Feinstein stood out as one of the few elected officials who continued to bridge the partisan divide in pursuit of common goals, particularly on agricultural issues. She tackled the intricate and difficult policy issues few else would. Whether it was addressing a complex water policy issue or her emphatic advocacy for a modernized agricultural workforce program, she was a problem solver, unwaveringly committed to the people of California. 

I personally witnessed the way in which she felt a sincere responsibility to address the obstacles we face in agriculture, and she took on tough policy issues when others would not, often working in a bipartisan manner. Her leadership truly made a difference.

Meetings with the senator frequently began with her saying, “Where are the women? Come here, sit at the table.” Even when we found ourselves on the periphery, her encouragement pushed us to take a seat at the heart of discussions.

Her fairness and analytical approach were evident in her willingness to challenge her own staff and various stakeholder groups on an issue, all in the quest for a resolution to benefit all Californians.

Complacency was not in her vocabulary. Senator Feinstein will be remembered for her intelligence, studious nature, and desire to find practical solutions, even in the face of adversity. She was a fighter, unafraid to take on the biggest challenges, regardless of the opposition. While we may not have always seen eye to eye on every issue, one could always count on her to passionately advocate for California’s interests.

In a time when our nation often feels divided, Senator Feinstein should not only be remembered – but emulated. Her legacy points the way toward a future of possibilities, where we can overcome even the most significant challenges.

Thank you, Senator Feinstein, you will be missed.