SALINAS, Calif. — Monterey County Farm Bureau greeted a new executive director and board president at its annual meeting Oct. 29 in Soledad.

Norm Groot, 53, a former production planning manager at Azusa, Calif.-based Monrovia Nursery, took over as executive director the day before.

Groot’s experience includes stints as a board member on the Orange County Farm Bureau and the California Farm Bureau Federation. He has 13 years of experience at the state federation.

He succeeds nine-year veteran Bob Perkins, who resigned in February 2009.

His Farm Bureau experience made him a good fit for the Monterey County position, Groot said.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “In Orange County it’s a very small set of crops, versus (Monterey) where you have a diverse amount of different things produced and grown.”

His position at Monrovia was among others eliminated in a round of recession-related layoffs, Groot said.

“The nursery industry is going through a tough period,” he said. “People are not opening their wallets and going to the garden centers to buy plants as much as they used to. The economics have caught up with everyone at this point.”

The new board president is Dirk Giannini, a partner in Salinas, Calif.-based Christensen & Giannini, who will succeed Jason Smith effective Nov. 1. Smith is general manager at Soledad-based Paraiso Vineyards and will remain on the board.

Groot’s first day on the job was at the Farm Day Experience in Monterey, offered Oct. 28 by Monterey County Agricultural Education. About 2,000 third-grade students from around Monterey County attended the event.

New leader at Monterey County Farm Bureau