College of Agriculture


William J. Thomas, Jr.

Bill Thomas was raised in Sutter County on a rice, field crop, and livestock ranch. He has been in agriculture all of his life. Bill has his own cattle operation and is a part of the management team of one of California’s larger cattle operations.

Bill has served agricultural interests for more than 30 years in private practice. Bill represents agricultural and agricultural business interests before California governmental agencies, such as the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, State and Regional Water Boards, the Departments of Food and Agriculture, Fish & Game, and Pesticide Regulation. He also lobbies the California Legislature and works with federal agencies, such as the United States Departments of Agriculture (Forest Service) and Interior (Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management). His clients include farmers, ranchers, chemical manufacturers, agricultural bargaining associations, and other business associations. Bill provides counsel and advocacy regarding market enforcement, pesticide registration, pest control, business licenses, and pesticides. His practice extensively focuses in areas involving water quality, pesticide use, drainage, and endangered species. He is an expert on state and federal environmental laws, water quality acts, Proposition 65, environmental conservation easements, and public land issues.

 Bill currently is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and serves as a member of its legal defense fund (The CATL Fund). He also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Cattlemen’s Association, as well as its legal defense fund (P.O.S.S.E.E.), and is chair of its Water and Environmental Water Quality Committee. Bill is a leading advocate for the ranching industry.

 Throughout his vast legal career, Bill has been appointed by the governor and agency heads to serve many political, environmental, and agricultural positions, such as the Uniform Environmental Statute Commission and AB 982 Advisory Group for California’s Implementation of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs). Bill currently serves as a member and past chair (1986-1998) of the California Department of Food & Agriculture, Market Enforcement Advisory Committee, and the Department of Pesticide Regulation, Pest Management Advisory Board.

 Bill earned a BS in agronomy, with a minor in botany (1968), from the California State University, Chico, where he was student body president. Bill earned his JD (1975) from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law after serving as a LT, j.g. in the United States Navy. He supports the Sacramento County Bar Association as a member of its environmental law section.