Ben Higgins on horse
Ben Higgins on horse

San Luis Obispo Library hosts Hearst Director of Agricultural Operations

Author: Sharon Coronado, Adult Services Coordinator
Date: 7/12/2019 9:28:11 AM

The San Luis Obispo Library will host Ben Higgins, Hearst Director of Agricultural Operations on August 6 at 4:00pm.


San Luis Obispo’s downtown branch will host Ben Higgins, Hearst Director of Agricultural Operations in conjunction with the library’s American Farmer photography exhibit. Higgins will be speaking on Tuesday August 6, 4:00-5:00pm in the Community Room at 995 Palm Street.

The Hearst Ranches, consisting of over 150,000 acres of native grassland, oak woodland, and coastal prairie, are the Central Coast's largest agricultural properties. Today these properties are used principally used for the sustainable production of grass-fed beef, using methods and techniques honed since the 19th century. Higgins will discuss the management of these spacious and mostly-wild places, bringing cowboys and conservation together, 21st century grass-fed beef production, and how San Luis Obispo’s farmers and ranchers benefit our residents, our economy and the land.

Higgins was born and raised in San Luis Obispo to a Swiss-Italian family that has been raising cattle around Cayucos and Cambria since the early 1900s. His grandfather was once a cowboy at Hearst Ranch and “tells plenty of wild stories about the place,” according to Higgins.

In 2006, Higgins was appointed by President George W. Bush as state director of the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA) Rural Development to manage delivery of more than 40 programs in areas such as affordable housing, renewable energy, infrastructure and local development. From 2009 to 2010, Higgins was chief operating officer for the California Rangeland Trust, the largest agricultural land trust that supervises the Hearst Corporation’s conservation easement.

Eager to return to family-friendly San Luis Obispo County, Higgins took a position in 2010 as director of government affairs for Mainstream Energy Corporation in San Luis Obispo, the parent company of REC Solar and AEE Solar. While employed by Mainstream Energy, Higgins was contacted by the Hearst Corporation when longtime manager Cliff Garrison announced his retirement.

About American Farmer

When photographer Paul Mobley set out to capture the soul of our country’s farm communities, he encountered an enduring rural culture that remains rooted in the principles of tradition, family, integrity, and hard work. The resulting images show farmers with a strong sense of where they belong in the universe, a close connection to the land and their day-to-day work as it affects the rest of the world. American Farmer closes Sunday August 11 at San Luis Obispo Library.

This exhibition was curated and organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance.