After 37 years of service to the dairy industry, George Salsa returns home.
George Salsa died on Monday, May 1st of natural causes. That day the dairy industry and the CDQAP family lost one of their truest friends and greatest assets. The grief we share in the partnership is palpable.
George was known to most producers as the friendly and patient ex-milk inspector who now performed CDQAP third-party evaluations.
George’s long career with the dairy industry however started back in 1986, when he was hired by CDFA as a Registered Dairy Inspector, conducting food safety inspections at dairy farms and milk processing plants throughout the Central Valley.
During that time George established a reputation of being a highly approachable state regulator, and always related extremely well with members of the dairy industry and his fellow inspectors.
In 2000, George was promoted to the position of Regional Supervisor for the Stockton region and was responsible for overseeing about 12 dairy inspectors working in the North Valley.
“George was a great guy and always a pleasure to be with.” said Dr. Richard Breitmeyer, past State Veterinarian. “Dairy was in his genes and he always related so well with producers and staff.”
George retired from CDFA in 2009 after 23 years of dedicated service, but his partnership with CDQAP was just beginning.
Funeral Services will be held Friday May 12 at 10:00 a.m. at the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles at 370 Linden Ave, Gustine, CA, California. A reception will follow at Mission de Oro, 13070 S. Hwy 33, Santa Nella, CA 95322.
In 1998, prior to George retiring from CDFA, CDQAP was developing a third-party evaluation and certification program, one that ensured that certified producers followed all federal, state and local environmental regulations.
“We needed to find someone who knew dairies and could relate to producers.” said Dr. Deanne Meyer, UCCE Livestock Waste Management Specialist and CDQAP Environmental Stewardship Module Director. “He also had to immerse himself in dairy environmental regulation, which was not part of his extensive food safety training at CDFA.”
Using grant money from the US EPA, CDQAP purchased some of George’s time and that of some of his colleagues at the State and Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Boards to be trained on dairy regulations.
In 2000 the first evaluations were made on CDQAP’s first 12 dairies, with George leading the CDQAP evaluation team. Inspectors from US EPA followed up to ensure that nothing was missed, and the academic/regulatory/industry program was born. As the program grew George and his team conducted additional evaluations throughout the state.
“George had a unique way of explaining to producers, in a firm but friendly way, changes that had to be made to meet the complex web of regulations.” said Denise Mullinax, Director of the California Dairy Research Foundation, CDQAP’s parent organization.
Over the next 23 years George visited and evaluated most of the state’s 1,200 dairies, evaluating current practices, engaging in practical manure management discussions and assisting producers in improving their farm stewardship and sustainability. Not all initial conversations were easy, but George’s good-natured, straight-forward attitude supported producers in continued improvement and environmental compliance. Over the years he performed about 1,900 evaluations, with his last being on January 24th of this year.
I can think of no higher praise for any person than that he was well loved and made the world a better place.” said Dr. Michael Payne, Director of the CDQAP. “George was all that and more.”
George is survived by his wife Carol, daughter Susie, and sons George, Michael and Albert.
Funeral Services will be held Friday May 12th at 10:00 a.m. at the Shrine of Our Lady of Miracles at 370 Linden Ave, Gustine, CA, California. A reception will follow at Mission de Oro, 13070 S. Hwy 33, Santa Nella, CA 95322.