Joe Pezzini, chief operating officer of Ocean Mist Farms, and Bob Martin, general manager of Rio Farms, have been named Valley of the World Ag Leaders by the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, Calif.

The honors were part of the center’s annual Valley of the World awards May 10 at Corral de Tierra Country Club, according to a news release. The awards recognize Martin and Pezzini as innovators in the Salinas Valley agricultural industry and supporters of community causes.

National Steinbeck Center honors Pezzini, Martin“Their achievements are testaments to the remarkable advancements in our industry – innovation, leadership, generosity and vision,” Sandra Silva, development and membership manager at the National Steinbeck Center, said in the release.

Last year Dennis Caprara, owner of Gonzales, Calif.-based R.C. Farms, was the only agricultural honoree.

“Joe (Pezzini’s) leadership following the spinach food safety crisis in 2006 was unprecedented and may be his biggest achievement, but he has always been there for our industry and our community and continues to lead us into the future,” Lorri Koster, award committee chair and vice president of marketing at Mann Packing Co., said in the release.