New Directors of Almond Board of California Begin Their Terms

By Almond Board of California

The new Board of Directors of the Almond Board of California took their seats on Thursday with four voting members beginning new terms to help guide ABC’s support of one of California’s most important crops.

Board members, whose terms officially began Aug. 1, also elected Alexi Rodriguez as chair and re-elected George Goshgarian Jr. as vice chair.

“Our industry is facing many challenges right now,” said Rodriguez. “I’m looking forward to working with this talented and dedicated board and organization. I believe we have the resources and experience to navigate these complicated times.”

The 10-member ABC board has five grower members – three representing independent growers and two representing cooperative growers – and five handler members, also with three independent and two co-op representatives. Some members sit in three-year seats, others in one-year positions.

The grower representatives elected or re-elected in this year’s elections are:

  • Paul Ewing, an independent from RPAC, LLC in Los Banos. He was re-elected to a one-year term.
  • Brandon Rebiero, an independent grower from Gold Leaf Farming in Modesto who previously served as an alternate and was elected to a three-year term.

The handler representatives were re-elected in both positions this year. They are:

  • Darren Rigg, an independent handler from Minturn Nut Co. in Le Grand. He was re-elected to a one-year term.
  • Mel Machado, a co-op handler with Blue Diamond Growers from Modesto re-elected to a three-year term.

In addition, the board has three alternates elected or re-elected this year:

  • Katie Staack-Dorsett, an independent grower with Grizzly Nut, LLC from Waterford This is her first term as an alternate.
  • Chad DeRose, an independent handler with Famoso Nut Co., LLC in McFarland, who was re-elected.
  • Mark Jansen, a co-op handler with Blue Diamond Growers from Sacramento who was also re-elected. .

This is the full board:

VOTING MEMBERS                                                                                      TERM

Grower #1:            Paul Ewing, RPAC, LLC                                                    1 year

Grower #2:            Brandon Rebiero, Gold Leaf Farming                           3 years

Grower #3:            Joe Gardiner, Treehouse California Almonds, LLC       3 years

Handler #1:           Alexi Rodriguez, Campos Brothers                               3 years

Handler #2:           Bob Silveira, Vann Family Orchards                              3 years

Handler #3:           Darren Rigg, Minturn Nut Co. Inc.                                 1 year

Co-op Grower #1: George Goshgarian Jr., Goshgarian Farming Co.        3 years

Co-op Grower #2: Christine Gemperle, Gemperle Orchards                   3 years

Co-op Handler #1: Mel Machado, Blue Diamond Growers                       3 years

Co-op Handler #2: Alicia Rockwell, Blue Diamond Growers                    3 years

ALTERNATES

Grower #1:             Katie Staack-Dorsett, Grizzly Nut, LLC

Grower #2:             Vacant

Grower #3:             Chris Bettencourt, Suvik Farms

Handler #1:            Ron Fisher, Fisher Nut Company

Handler #2:            Dexter Long, Hilltop Ranch, Inc.

Handler #3:            Chad DeRose, Famoso Nut Company, LLC

Co-op Grower #1:  Kelli Evans, Evans Farming

Co-op Grower #2:  Kent Stenderup, Stenderup Ag Partners

Co-op Handler #1: Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond Growers

Co-op Handler #2: Dean LaVallee, Blue Diamond Growers

The ABC board sets policy and approves budgets in major areas, including production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.

ABC is a Federal Marketing Order dedicated to promoting California almonds to domestic and international audiences through marketing efforts and by funding and promoting studies about almonds’ health benefits, as well as ensuring sustainable agricultural practices and food safety.

2022-08-11T11:21:09-07:00August 11th, 2022|

NASS Forecasts Smaller Almond Crop for 2022

Objective Forecast predicts harvest 2022 will be down 11 percent from last year.

By The Almond Board of California

The 2022 California Almond Objective Measurement Report published Friday, July 8, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) estimates that the crop harvested in 2022 will come in at 2.6 billion meat pounds, 11 percent below last year’s 2.9 billion pounds.

The estimate is down 7 percent from NASS’s subjective forecast in May and comes in a complicated year. Some growers were impacted by frost in spring while the entire almond industry, and all California farmers, have been navigating a difficult water year and continued logistical issues impacting the ability to ship almonds to meet consumer demand around the world.

“Growers have been working hard in the face of challenging circumstances and it demonstrates their dedication to improving stewardship practices and meeting the demands of consumers,” said Brian Wahlbrink, chair of the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors.

The forecast for the average nut set per tree is 4,082, 12 percent down from 2021. The Nonpareil average nut set of 3,966 is also 12 percent lower than last year. The average kernel weight for all varieties sampled was 1.47 grams, up less than 1 percent from the 2021 average weight. The Nonpareil average kernel weight was 1.55 grams, up slightly from last year.

“Despite the shipping and logistical logjams, recent shipment numbers have set monthly records, which demonstrates the demand for California almonds continues to increase in the U.S. and around the world,” said Almond Board President and CEO Richard Waycott. “Almond growers are putting what resources they can afford this year into producing their crop, and their efforts show. Although there was a drop from last year, the forecast reflects the efforts of growers to meet global demand and ensure a steady supply of high quality California almonds.”

ABC’s April and May 2022 Position Reports showed that almond exports set records for both months, even while facing shipping and logistical obstacles, and total almond shipments in May also set a record.

NASS conducts the annual Subjective Forecast, Objective Report and Acreage Report to provide the California almond industry with the data needed to make informed business decisions. Of the crop estimates, the 2022 California Almond Objective Report is considered the more accurate and is based on actual almond counts using a statistically rigorous methodology.

2022-07-11T11:16:45-07:00July 11th, 2022|

Almond Alliance Supports Growers Whipsawed by Supply Chains, Water

By Farm Credit Alliance

Almonds may be California’s second-largest crop, bringing in $5.62 billion in sales in 2020, but almond growers feel whipsawed by two factors over which they have no control: water and supply chains.

That’s where the Almond Alliance comes in. A trade association devoted primarily to advocacy in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., the group formed in 1980 as the Almond Huller and Processors Association, but more recently changed its name and focus, said Aubrey Bettencourt, the organization’s new president and CEO – and a third-generation farmer.

“Our mission is to be the advocacy voice for the almond community in California and protect everything we need to create a thriving almond industry,” Bettencourt said. “The Almond Board does an amazing job as the research and development and market development arm for the industry. The Almond Alliance focuses on the advocacy and policy needed to allow us to continue to grow almonds.”

“The decisions made by policy makers at the state and federal level have a profound impact on California agriculture, which is why groups like the Almond Alliance are so important,” President and CEO of American AgCredit Curt Hudnutt said. “Our charitable contributions support advocacy organizations that allow the farmer’s voice to be heard when decisions are being made.”

This year, California’s Farm Credit institutions – American AgCredit, CoBank, Colusa-Glenn Farm Credit, Farm Credit West, and Fresno Madera Farm Credit – will contribute more than $280,000 to nonprofit organizations advocating for agriculture.

And there are plenty of issues affecting the almond industry.

The most recent crisis involves the worldwide supply chain breakdown. Bettencourt explained that shipping companies in China and other hubs are paying top dollar to get ships and their containers back as soon as possible to load up again after they discharge cargo in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“It used to take a container ship 15 days to get to L.A. Now it takes 50, and the same container that was worth $30 empty now is worth $30,000, so they’re not going to Oakland to pick up ag products. Or, if they do, they’ll give us four hours to put products on the ship instead of four days,” she said.

As most almonds are exported, Bettencourt worries that California growers could suffer irreparable harm if the supply chain issues aren’t fixed. The Almond Alliance is working closely with state and federal trade officials to take action to help protect California’s market share.

“The feds can use the influence of the federal government to explore their legal and emergency authorities. For example, the authority to enforce or incentivize foreign carriers to keep their booking schedules and delivery contracts and to take and deliver sold U.S. products in a timely manner, according to contracted agreements and schedules,” she said.

The second critical issue the Almond Alliance focuses on is water. California has experienced drought conditions for all but one year since 2011, and farmers are preparing for the worst in 2022. The lack of water is forcing many almond growers to cut down trees in their prime to allow limited water allocations to be used on the remainder of their orchards. At the same time, almond growers face criticism for the amount of water the trees need.

Farm water experts say almond growers get an undeserved rap for their water usage as most tree crops need about the same amount of water. And Bettencourt points out that growers have reduced the amount of water per pound of almonds by one-third over the past 20 years and are working to reduce the amount used today by another 20 percent by the middle of the decade.

While drought is a reality, Bettencourt argues that much of the problem facing agriculture is due to abrupt changes in how the system is managed, along with a lack of investment in the water infrastructure. No new storage facilities have been built in the past 50 years, and virtually all the $2.7 billion in bond funds approved by voters in 2014 for additional water storage remain unspent.

She said growers need certainty to plan operations.

“Instead of managing the system as part of the solution, it’s been thrown into uncertainty as a result of administrative discretion. Water should be used for environmental purposes while still providing water supplies for all users,” she said.

“The Almond Alliance will put pressure wherever possible at the state and federal level to get back to that certainty. Everyone needs to know the rules and follow them so we can have a viable agricultural community and safe and reliable water for all people.”

Due to worldwide demand, the USDA reports that 7,600 almond growers – mostly small family businesses – actively farm 1.6 million acres in California, and Bettencourt said the future is bright, so long as growers have a functioning supply chain and adequate water supplies.

“From a production standpoint, we are at the beginning of our prime,” she said. “Looking at acreage and production, California almonds are just at the beginning of where we could be, and the potential is exciting.”

As part of its charitable mission, Farm Credit provides donations to organizations focused on different commodity types, including almonds, said Mark Littlefield, President and CEO of Farm Credit West.

“Because of its importance to California agriculture, Farm Credit supports the Almond Alliance, the Almond Board and other organizations each year,” Littlefield said. “We work hard each year to direct support to nonprofits that really do a great job in their efforts to support farming and ranching.”

About Farm Credit:
American AgCredit, CoBank, Colusa Glenn Farm Credit, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, and Yosemite Farm Credit are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing agriculture and rural communities with a dependable source of credit. For more than 100 years, the Farm Credit System has specialized in financing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural utilities and agribusinesses. Farm Credit offers a broad range of loan products and financial services, including long-term real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment and facility loans, cash management and appraisal and leasing services…everything a “growing” business needs. For more information, visit www.farmcreditalliance.com

About the Almond Alliance:
The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community. For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit www.almondalliance.org or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2022-06-29T13:22:12-07:00June 29th, 2022|

Almond Board of California 2022 Elections Underway

Voting Began April 21

Voting began recently to select two independent grower positions and one independent handler position on the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors. Alternate seats for those spots are also open. Voting ends May 26.

Candidates for the independent grower positions:

Grower Position One, Member (1-year term):            Grower Position One, Alternate:

Paul Ewing, Los Banos (incumbent)                                           Brian Wahlbrink, Sonora (petitioner)

Katie Staack-Dorsett, Waterford (petitioner)

Grower Position Two, Member (3-year term):            Position One, Alternate  

Brandon Rebiero, Modesto (petitioner)                                      Michael O’Banion, Firebaugh (petitioner)

Lee Erickson, Madera (petitioner)

Candidates for the independent handler positions:

Handler Position Three, Member (1-year term):         Handler Position Three, Alternate:

Darren Rigg, Le Grand (incumbent)                                             Chad DeRose, McFarland (incumbent)

Jonathan Hoff, Denair (petitioner)

Spencer Birch, Wasco (petitioner

Ballots and instructions have been mailed to all independent growers and handlers whose names are on file with ABC. Ballots must be received by ABC by May 26. Any independent grower or handler who does not receive a ballot can contact Toni Arellano at tarellano@almondboard.com.

“Every vote is important,” said ABC President and CEO Richard Waycott. “More than 7,600 growers and 100 handlers count on the Board of Directors to guide the work of the Almond Board and to help the industry navigate these complicated times.”

The ABC board, made up of five handler and five grower representatives, sets policy and recommends budgets in major areas, including marketing, production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.

Results will be announced June 1 and the new board will start its term Aug. 1.

2022-04-27T13:30:52-07:00April 27th, 2022|

Help for Young Almond Trees Regarding Band Canker

Protecting Young Almond Trees from Botryosphaeria

By Patrick Cavanaugh, With the Ag Information Network

Protecting young almond trees from the sleeping giant, known as Botryosphaeria Fungus. Themis Michailides is a UC Davis Plant Pathologist who has focused on Botryosphaeria for decades.

Band Canker Symptoms on Young Almond Tree

“For years, we didn’t have any control of the Botryosphaeria band canker of almond trees. But now we have new information that very young trees have latent infections, which is the actual Botryosphaeria, the sleeping giant fungus,” noted Michailides.  “And these latent infections are from when growers planted the trees in the orchard it created stress, and then disease eventually develop.”

Michailides and his colleagues got the idea of treating the trees with Topsin fungicide before there are any symptoms. So they can prevent the disease from even developing. “We did the first spray in early March. And, in orchards with no symptoms, 18 months later, we saw a big difference between the untreated and the treated,” noted Michailides.

“And then we went back 16 months later and observed the untreated  trees still had  very high levels of band canker, but the treated tree still maintained much lower levels of infection,” explained Michailides.

Michailides said that the sprays were in 2019 and then again in the spring of 2021. “After 33 months, we found the untreated control trees with very severe disease and ready to be removed by the grower, while the treated trees did not have any severely infected trees so the grower did not have to remove any of those,” he said.

2022-01-28T08:40:26-08:00January 28th, 2022|

Tree Nut Consumption Is Good For Health

At One Time, Tree Nut Consumption Not Recommended by Doctors

Do you remember when consuming nuts was not good for you? The medical industry had it all wrong!

“It was a journey that took about 20 years. And we started down it, not really knowing, like most research how it is going to turn out,” noted Richard Waycott President and CEO of the Almond Board of California.  “Fortunately, the focus both for walnuts and almonds was on cholesterol and heart health, and we were able to have redundant trials, clinical trials, published in the papers that revealed that, yes, indeed increasing almond consumption does help with cholesterol,” he said.

And that it reduced the bad cholesterol and increased the good cholesterol.

“That was our first stake in the ground, and we’ve built on that,” noted Waycott.

Investing in good health research, is a major priority with the Almond Board. “Clinical trials are not cheap. They cost upwards of $3 million a year, and they usually take multiple years to accomplish and then you got to get published. That’s definitely a foundation of the Almond Board’s work,” said Waycott.

And in further evidence, according to the largest study of its kind, people who ate a daily handful of nuts were 20% less likely to die from any cause over a 30-year period, than those who didn’t consume nuts.

2022-01-19T13:06:04-08:00January 19th, 2022|
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