Alumni of the California Agricultural Leadership Program will host 20 Washington, D.C., federal representatives on a Southern California agriculture tour, Sept. 14-21, so they can see the industry first-hand.

At the same time, the Salinas, Calif.-based leadership program named 24 individuals to its Class 45, according to a news release.

The goal of the Washington, D.C., exchange is to educate policy makers and regulators so they have a better understanding of how their decisions affect California agriculture, according to the release.

This year, they will travel through the Coachella Valley and San Diego, Imperial and Ventura counties and visit nearly two dozen agricultural operations. Along the way, the federal representatives will participate in one-on-one talks, expert panels, small-group discussions and spend days with farm families.

Among the topics expected to be discussed are the economics of farming, environmental challenges, water quality, invasive pests and pesticide issues, labor and immigration, supply chain, food safety, air quality, trade and sustainable agriculture.

More than 650 federal agency representatives have participated in the exchange program since it started in 1982.

Class 45 of the leadership program will convene Oct. 16 at California State University, Fresno.

During the 17-month program, participants will study leadership theory, effective communication, critical and strategic thinking, change management, emotional intelligence, and complex and social and cultural issues.

Seminars will be held at four participating universities: Cal Poly, Pomona; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; CSU Fresno and the University of California, Davis.

Altogether, the program involves 55 seminar days including a 10-day national trip and a 15-day trip.

“Our newest fellows will use the leadership skills and lessons learned in the program to benefit agriculture, their businesses, organizations and communities,” Bob Gray, leadership foundation president and chief executive officer, said in the release.

Since 1970, more than 1,200 have participated in the leadership program, which is funded by individual and industry donations.