Bill Lyons has carried on the leadership tradition of his father by serving the agricultural and water community and Central Valley region in many capacities; as a rancher/farmer, conservationist, businessman and community leader. Bill oversees his family's farming and cattle ranching operation, known as the "Mape's Ranch", located west of Modesto. The Mape's Ranch has been in existence for over 95 years and produces a number of agricultural commodities, including almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, corn, wheat, oats, rye, alfalfa, beans, and wine grapes, as well as beef cattle.
In January, 1999, Governor Gray Davis named Bill as the Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, where he was confirmed with unanimous support from Democrat and Republican legislators alike. He brought three decades of leadership and business expertise to the Department and served in this capacity for five years. Bill was responsible for implementing and directing the policies and programs that support California's 30-billiondollar agricultural industry. He was responsible for overseeing a budget of $299 million dollars and more than 2,000permanent employees, at over 100 offices throughout the State. He worked on many agricultural, business, water and environmental issues and has earned a reputation as a strong leader who can build consensus among diverse groups and individuals.
Bill has been recognized by numerous agricultural organizations and has received several national awards from the United States Department of Agriculture. He was elected President of the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture and Chairman of the U.S. - Mexico Border States. He was also named Cattleman of the Year, California Jaycees Outstanding Young Farmer, and was the recipient of the California Poultry Association's "Good Egg Award," an award for outstanding leadership in the agricultural industry. Bill was also the proud recipient of the California Exposition and State Fair 2010 Agriculturalist of the Year Award. This competitive award, distinguishes exceptional service in the promotion and advancement of agriculture in California. Additionally, Bill was selected as the western regional finalist for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 2010 Conservationist of the Year Award.
As a conservationist, Bill has been recognized by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for his conservation and environmental efforts, and has received the United States Department of Agriculture National Environmentalist Award.
While the Lyons family continues to farm and ranch in the Central Valley, it is with great pride that Bill also heads Lyons Investments which acquires and develops industrial, distribution, commercial and warehousing real estate inventory within the Central Valley region. With the Lyons family extensive background in commercial, office, residential and industrial development they have been committed to the balance between farming, the environment, wildlife and economic development. Bill feels strongly about providing industrial and commercialdevelopment leadership and helping to stimulate the local and regional economy resulting in jobs for the Central Valley. Bill and his family are proud to own and manage over 1,200,000 sq. fl. of commercial, office and industrial real estate in the Central Valley.
Bill has also been extremely politically active in the Central Valley and has worked as an advisor on numerous local and statewide policy issues in the areas of agriculture, water, the environment and economic development. Bill is regarded as a well-known astute leader who can work with all political parties and diverse communities to help find long term, common sense solutions. In April of 2015, Bill accompanied the California Speaker of the Assembly, Toni Atkins and Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, Henry Perea on a high level trade mission to Cuba. The purpose of the mission was to establish relationships with key Cuban policymakers, farmers and businesses associated with agriculture to advance trade opportunities between California and Cuba. In May of 2015 and 2016, Bill represented the Merced County Association of Governments as a One Voice delegate on a trip to Washington DC to advocate for infrastructure and water resources for the Merced County region.
Bill was also one of the founding Directors of the East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District and has served as President of the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors and the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau. He also served on the California Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors, as well as the Stanislaus and Tuolumne County USDA Stabilization and Conservation Service Committee, and the Stanislaus/San Joaquin Counties' Cattlemen's Association Board of Directors. Bill is currently serving on the Doctor's Medical Center Board of Directors and was the co-chairman of the UC Merced Medical School coalition representing 9 counties and 250 volunteers in the Central Valley. Bill served on the California State Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors ensuring that agriculture remained center stage in business policy in California. Bill is also a founding director of the First Choice medical foundation that works to provide education and outreach for affordable medical care to the residents of the Central Valley. Currently Bill is Chairman of both the Government Affairs Committee of the Almond Alliance of California and the California Almond Industry Political Action Committee which advocate for the six-billion-dollar almond industry.
Bill served as the President of the Hart Ransom Little League and coached several competitive, youth traveling soccer teams. Bill and his family support a number of charitable community causes, including the G. I. Forum, Gallo Performing Arts Center, State Theatre, Community Hospice, American Cancer Society, Children's Crisis Center, Haven Women's Center, Howard Training Center, Salvation Army, Stanislaus County Fair, Modesto Chamber of Commerce Harvest Luncheon, Ag Aware Luncheon and Camp Sylvester.
Bill's alma mater, the California State University at Chico, honored Bill in 2000 with the Distinguished Alumni Award. He and his wife, Suzy, have been married for 40 years and have four children and five grandchildren.