Speaker Profile


Matthew Shapero
United States
Livestock & Range Advisor
University of California Cooperative Extension
Preparing for wildfire: how an AgPass program can mitigate wildfire's impacts to agriculture

The last several years have witnessed some of the largest and most severe wildfires in California history, with growing numbers of homes and lives lost. Although there is growing awareness of fire's effects on specific agricultural commodities, this focus is not the norm. When disasters threaten communities, agriculture is typically under-serviced because orchards, livestock, and crops are not high priority items for firefighters. Planning for the inevitable threat that wildfire poses to agriculture has led to one innovative approach for agricultural practitioners to protect their property and livelihoods: the locally-based "Ag Pass" program. An Ag Pass identifies farm and ranch employees to firefighting personnel, public safety officers, and other emergency personnel. Possession of an Ag Pass during wildfire or a similar disaster allows ag employees access to areas that may otherwise be restricted to the public, in order to 1) protect or care for agricultural assets (such as irrigating crops or feeding, watering, and transporting livestock) or 2) provide auxiliary support to emergency personnel (such as identifying access roads and water points). This presentation is a summary of the considerations when developing an Ag Pass program and includes a case study from Ventura County, California, which is intended to assist other communities in their efforts.

Matthew Shapero is the University of California Cooperative Extension Livestock & Range advisor serving Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Prior to starting as an extension advisor, Matthew worked for the Rangeland Planning & Policy and the Rangeland Ecology labs at the University of California, Berkeley, and worked as a graduate student researcher at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Sierra Foothills Research and Extension Center. Matthew also has experience in small-scale, grass-fed meat production, working as rancher in the Sierra Nevada foothills between 2010 and 2016.