Lemon Economics in Ventura County

 

Lemons Became More Popular, But then COVID Hit

 

By Tim Hammerich, with the AgInformation Network 

A recent study on the costs and returns of establishing and producing lemons in Ventura County was released by UC Cooperative Extension in Southern California and UC Agricultural Issues Center.

“We grow lemons along the coast because it doesn’t get hot, and we do a really good sour lemon. The trees flower year-round, and so there’s production year-round,” said Ben Faber, a Farm Advisor based in Ventura County.”

He says lemon prices had been stagnant for a long time but started to really rise in the past decade or two with the popularity of restaurant dining.

“And so the consumption just soared. Prices had been around five or six, eight dollars a box, and boy, they went up to $18 – $20 a box. So people saw a lot of money there.

“And so what do you do? You respond to it, and you plant. The market for strawberries had fallen, labor availability diminished. So along the coast here, a lot of people had said, ‘I don’t care. I’m going to risk it. I’m going to plant lemons’. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of labor to do, it takes less water. We’re stressed about water availability along the coast. And so, you know, the choice of lemons sounded really good until…boom…COVID.”

The pandemic has certainly taken its toll on lemon prices. Faber is hopeful they will recover but also concerned about the threat of citrus greening disease.

2021-01-14T18:10:18-08:00January 14th, 2021|

New Director of Trade At CA Fresh Fruit Assoc

Caroline Stringer is New Director of Trade. at CFFA

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) is pleased to announce the hiring of Caroline Stringer as its new Director of Trade. Ms. Stringer comes to the Association after serving as a Public Affairs Representative at Pacific Gas & Electric. Prior to her role with Pacific Gas & Electric, Caroline served as the Senior Specialist on Global, Technical and Regulatory Affairs for the California Almond Board.

The Chairman of the Board for the Association, Randy Giumarra of Giumarra Vineyards Corp., stated, “We are very pleased that Caroline has agreed to become a part of the team at CFFA. Her personal background and education, as well as her extensive experience working in the area of trade will bring immense value to our membership.”

Association President Ian LeMay added, “We are extremely fortunate to have Caroline joining the CFFA team. The issues of trade and access into foreign markets is of paramount importance to our membership, possibly now more than ever. Caroline brings an extensive educational and professional background to this position and we are excited to see the work she does on our member’s behalf. We believe that Caroline is a natural fit, along with our current staff, to continue to bring value to CFFA members and to serve the California fresh fruit industry.”

Ms. Stringer is a graduate of San Francisco State University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in International Relations. She also earned a Master of Arts in International Trade Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Ms. Stringer’s first day at the Association will be Monday, January 6th.

2019-12-18T13:25:55-08:00December 20th, 2019|

Act Now to Help Pass the USMCA

House to Take First Step Towards Full Ratification of USMCA

Provided by California Farm Bureau Federation

This Thursday, the House will take the first step towards full ratification of the renegotiated NAFTA known as the “US-Mexico-Canada Agreement” (USMCA). California agriculture exports $6.6 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico and supports more than 56,000 jobs.
 
Since NAFTA was implemented, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico quadrupled from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $39 billion in 2017. After President Trump renegotiated NAFTA, the International Trade Commission determined that the USMCA would have a positive impact on the U.S. economy and a positive impact on U.S. agriculture. An additional $2.2 billion in exports is expected once this agreement is ratified.
 
Congress must pass USMCA to preserve the proven successes of NAFTA while enjoying greater access to dairy, chicken, and eggs. The agreement has positive updates for fruit exports, improvements in biotechnology, protected geographical indications, and strengthened sanitary/phytosanitary measures.
 
All in all, the USMCA is needed to bring more stability to the volatile trade market. Please reach out today to your U.S. Representative to urge their YES vote on this important agreement.

Click Here: ACT NOW for USMCA House Passage

2019-12-25T14:06:59-08:00December 18th, 2019|

California Hemp Industry in the Making

California Hemp Growth Registrations Skyrocketed in 2019

By Robert W. Selna, Califonia Ag Today Contributor

California hemp growth registrations skyrocketed in 2019 due to federal decriminalization and a nationwide demand for hemp-derived products. A full-fledged statewide hemp industry has not quite arrived however, due to new regulations and limitations placed on hemp-based CBD products.

Hemp is defined as cannabis with extremely low concentrations of THC (not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits CBD in food, beverages and cosmetics, regardless of whether the CBD is derived from cannabis that includes THC (the psychoactive constituent of cannabis) or from hemp.

California Hemp Field

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited interim rule for domestic hemp production, which is a key step in implementing the 2018 Farm Bill and allows the USDA to approve hemp production plans developed by individual states. California is in the process of creating such a plan, and once it is approved, the state’s hemp industry is expected to expand.

Federal and State Laws

During the past year, California’s fledgling hemp businesses have waited patiently for the federal interim rule and closely monitored two bills that state legislators introduced to take advantage of a vast new hemp business opportunity. As the legislative session came to a close, results on the bills were mixed.

In mid-October, Governor Gavin Newsom approved SB 153, which modified California hemp regulations so that they would align with the anticipated interim rule. In contrast, state lawmakers failed to decide on AB 228, which would have legalized the statewide manufacture and sale of food, beverages and cosmetics that include hemp-derived CBD. The bill died in the Senate Appropriations Committee without a vote.

Following the lead of a handful of other states, including Colorado and Oregon, California Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) tried to address the federal CBD disconnect through AB 228. AB 228 contradicted the FDA, which deems products with CBD as “adulterated,” and prohibits them from being introduced into interstate commerce.

The FDA’s position is based on its decision to approve CBD as an active ingredient in the pharmaceutical drug Epidiolex, which treats a rare form of epilepsy. In turn, the FDA deems CBD to be like all other active drug ingredients, which may not be added to food and dietary supplements. Aguiar-Curry vowed to bring back AB 228 in early 2020.

Thus far, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has followed the FDA’s restrictions on CBD. Meanwhile, one can find hemp-derived CBD wellness products in small health food stores, as well as large chain supermarkets, which has caused confusion among consumers statewide.

The FDA and CDPH prohibition is seen by many as inconsistent with the spirit of the 2018 Farm Bill, which generally approved the production and sale of hemp, as well as the interstate commercial transfers of hemp and hemp products, including hemp-derived CBD. The Farm Bill decriminalized hemp by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, but the bill did not remove marijuana. The federal government has long described marijuana as cannabis that includes more than trace amounts of THC. California, however, regulates a commercial cannabis industry separate from hemp.

Representatives in Congress are starting to awaken to issues surrounding the FDA’s CBD prohibition. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken baby steps to resolve the problem. In mid-September, McConnell introduced a bill that could result in the FDA adopting a more lenient framework for hemp-derived CBD products. Specifically, the legislation directs the FDA to issue “an enforcement discretion policy” that would give the agency latitude and possibly lead to recognition that CBD products are safe.

Industry Growth

Legislative hiccups and regulatory confusion aside, the California hemp industry is gaining momentum. Q3 statistics from the California Department of Food and Agriculture show that the number of registered hemp growers in California increased from 74 in June 2019 to 292 as of August 26. In addition, there are now at least 629 registered hemp cultivation sites and 17,571 acres associated with growers and seed breeders.

Under the 2018 Farm Bill, counties may only allow limited cultivation pilot programs until the USDA confirms that their state’s hemp plan conforms with federal rules. However, until the USDA’s interim rule issuance on Oct. 29, there was a chicken-and-egg problem. California and other states have struggled to draft federally compliant hemp plans not knowing exactly what to expect in the interim rule. As a result, at least half of California countries have temporary bans or restrictions on hemp cultivation.

The federal interim rule clarifies states’ hemp regulation responsibilities, including practices for record keeping, methods for testing hemp to ensure that it is below the legal THC limit, and plans for the proper disposal of non-compliant hemp. In addition, the interim rule makes it clear that states and Native American tribes may not prohibit the interstate transport of hemp that has been legally grown under federal and state laws.

California is said to now be working on its hemp conformance plan. SB 153 aids that effort by adding testing, enforcement, and other administrative provisions and extending the state’s deadline for completing a federal hemp conformance plan from Jan. 31, 2020 to May 1, 2020.

Despite an evolving legal landscape, the California hemp industry is gearing up for a big 2020. The publication of the interim rule and support for legalizing hemp-derived CBD products should propel the California hemp industry closer to a wide-open market.

Rob Selna an attorney for Wendel Rosen, with offices in Oakland an Modesto. He  is  an active member of the firm’s Land Use, Real Estate, and Cannabis practices, and represents clients in a wide range of transactional and regulatory matters. He chairs the firm’s Cannabis practice group and frequently writes and speaks on related legal issues.

2021-05-12T11:05:01-07:00November 4th, 2019|

Generic Pistachio Marketing Has Big Value

Analysis: Export Markets Shows Nearly $3 billion Post-Tariff Shipment Increase Resulting From U.S. Pistachio Industry’s Generic Program.

American Pistachio Growers’ (APG) efforts to reduce or eliminate trade barriers in several key overseas markets have been a significant boon to pistachio exports and to growers’ bottom-line. A new study, “An Analysis of the Effects of the American Pistachio Growers’ Program to Reduce/Eliminate Tariffs on U.S. Pistachios,” has quantified, for the first time, the direct benefit to the U.S. pistachio industry from APG’s strategic program to vanquish trade barriers.

The analysis from Dr. Dennis H. Tootelian, an emeritus Professor of Marketing, sought to determine what shipments of U.S. pistachios would have been if tariffs had not been lowered or eliminated in Israel, Mexico, China and Hong Kong, and the European Union which are the export markets prioritized for focus by APG. Many of his analyses centered on the period from 2009 through 2017 — the period in which tariffs were reduced in all five geographic areas.

Tootelian’s study showed that actual shipments of U.S. pistachios after the tariffs were reduced or eliminated for each export market were more than 2.3 billion pounds greater than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in place. Equated in economic terms, the boost in export volume after the trade barriers had been removed amounted to nearly $3 billion greater value than what would have been expected had the tariffs remained in effect.

While Tootelian did not have any prior expectations of what his study would show, he was surprised by the findings.

“To see this kind of an increase in shipments on a before and after basis with the tariffs did surprise me. I did not expect this kind of result in the marketplace. These are not small numbers,” Tootelian said.   “What the data tell me is that there is latent demand for U.S. pistachios and once the tariffs come down, foreign markets want to buy them.”

Tootelian said the projected economic boon to U.S. growers is even more profound if the fluctuations in prices in China and Hong Kong were eliminated from the analysis.

“If you take the price fluctuations in China and Hong Kong out, the increase in value of pistachio shipments amounts to nearly $355 million more dollars per year — nearly $4.5 billion in total from the time when tariffs were in effect to after they were reduced or eliminated,” said Tootelian.

Data from the analysis estimated that more than 1.7 billion pounds of U.S. pistachios in total, or an average of more than 192 million pounds annually, may  have gone into storage if they were not diverted to other markets. While the effect of the projected added supply on the world market is unknown in terms of lower prices, Tootelian said that it would surely have had a detrimental impact on U.S. growers.

“It is unknown what that would have done to the price,” he said. “In order to divert from storage and into other markets, prices probably would have had to come down considerably and whether they would have been able to market that much supply is an unknown.”

Underlying Tootelian’s analysis is the fact that price is not the sole determinant of the volume of U.S. pistachio exports. He said when tariffs are lowered or eliminated, traditional economics would dictate that increased shipments would lead to lower prices, but his data show demand for U.S. pistachios in some key markets remained high in the post-tariff era.  Several factors, he said, appear to be in play.

“One is the reputation of U.S. pistachios, which carries a very positive market image with consumers and importers. Second, it could be the quality of the product is better or more consistent, or both, for what consumers can buy from other countries,” said Tootelian. “And third, there are a lot of reputable health studies that show nuts are healthy and nutritious.  APG has invested considerable resources raising consumer awareness of the healthful attributes of pistachios, and consumers appear to be willing to pay a higher price. That is pretty clear from the data.”

APG has aggressively worked in the halls of Congress, with U.S. trade officials and with foreign governmental bodies to alleviate burdensome trade barriers and create a more open market for U.S-grown pistachios.

“Quantifying the value of APG’s efforts to growers has been difficult up to now, but this new study gives us some tangible answers to the importance of the work we are doing on behalf of the U.S. pistachio industry,” said Richard Matoian, APG’s executive director. “Frankly, we were quite surprised at the magnitude of these numbers.  It’s our strong belief that whenever and wherever trade barriers exist to the free flow of American-grown pistachios around the world, we will confront them vigorously.”

In a postscript to his analysis, Tootelian added, “If I were a grower, I would be encouraging APG to be doing this more in other markets because the greater the demand there is for the product, the less goes into storage and that helps boost the price.”

2019-08-10T09:33:07-07:00August 10th, 2019|

Activist Groups Promote Fear on Consumer Food Choices

Activists Driving Consumers to Organic Food Only—Beyond Consumer Affordability

By Safe Fruits and Veggies

Despite recent and repeated calls by scientists and nutritionists to increase efforts to improve consumption, activist groups have created and promoted new webpages and infographics designed to raise fears among consumers about the safety of the more affordable and accessible fruits and vegetables.

These groups continue to ignore peer-reviewed research, which has shown these tactics don’t just negatively impact consumers’ purchasing decisions regarding conventionally grown produce—consumers’ reluctance also includes purchasing of organic produce as well. In other words, the work of these activists isn’t meeting their goal of driving consumers toward organics and maybe driving them away from produce altogether. How crazy is this?

Let’s review just some of the study findings, which have been released during the time these groups chose to create and promote new fear-based content:

“Prescriptions” for healthy foods could save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs. The healthy foods included fruits and veggies plus seafood, whole grains, and plant oils. The study concluded: “These new findings support the concept of ‘Food is Medicine.’”

Eating and drinking better, including increasing consumption of fruits and veggies, could prevent one in five deaths around the world. The study concluded: “Our findings show that suboptimal diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking, highlighting the urgent need for improving human diet across nations.”

Low fruit and veggie consumption resulted in an estimated three million deaths from heart disease or stroke. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.” Click here to continue reading and to “like” and share this blog post.

2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00July 19th, 2019|

Four Students Selected to Represent Real California Milk in Asia, Mexico

Student Ambassadors Share California Dairy Message with International Audiences 

News Release

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has selected four students to serve as interns in the second year of the international dairy leadership program. Jessica Brown, Stefani Christieson, KayCee Hartwig-Dittman and Makayla Toste will serve as dairy representatives, working with marketing teams representing CMAB during the summer in Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan.

The interns, selected from students enrolled in agriculture-related programs at colleges and universities throughout the state, were chosen based on academic achievement, connection to the dairy industry, and a willingness to travel abroad and learn more about international dairy sales and marketing as well as a plan to work in the California dairy industry in the future.dairy cattle

Over the six-week period, each intern will spend time with in-country CMAB marketing organizations—Brown in Taiwan, Christieson and Hartwig-Dittman in South Korea and Toste in Mexico—to gain a better understanding of these markets, consumer buying habits, and promotional efforts on behalf of California’s dairy industry.

Brown is currently enrolled at Fresno State, majoring in agriculture business. She was raised on her family’s vineyard in Tracy and has always had a passion for agriculture. Her desire to learn about agriculture outside of the U.S. has provided her with opportunities to study abroad, most recently in Spain. Because of her love of travel and learning about other cultures, Jessica is focusing on international marketing at college, with plans to work in this field of study upon graduation in 2020. Brown is a member of the agriculture marketing team at Fresno State and will be working with Steven Chu and Associates in Taipei, Taiwan.

Christieson is a recent graduate of the UC Davis, where she received her B.S. in Political Science and minors in economics and French. She will be attending graduate school in the fall at Sciences Po in Paris, France, for a year and then will complete the program at Fudan University in Shanghai, China in year two. Christieson plans to complete her master’s degree in international economic policy and pursue a career as agriculture economic policy advisor for an agriculture export market organization to help California farmers continue to expand into emerging and established markets overseas. Christieson will be working with Sohn’s Market Makers, Ltd. in S. Korea.

Hartwig-Dittman is currently enrolled at Fresno State, where she is majoring in dairy science and is employed at the dairy unit on campus. She has a culinary arts degree from Diablo Valley Community College and has experience working in the restaurant industry in California. Her love of travel and food has allowed her to travel outside of the U.S., where she has learned to use dairy products in new and creative ways with hopes to find innovative ways to introduce dairy to consumers around the world. Hartwig-Dittman will also be working with Sohn’s Market Makers, Ltd. in South Korea.

 Toste, a second-generation dairy farmer from Newman, received her B.S. degree in Animal Science with an emphasis in dairy science. During her last year at Fresno State, Toste served as the assistant herdsman for the Fresno State dairy unit, where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the dairy and an officer for the Fresno State Dairy Club. After the internship, she plans to work in the California dairy industry in promotion and marketing to help keep the industry viable for the next generation of farmers. Toste will serve as an intern with the team at Imalinx in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

“California accounts for more than 33 percent of all U.S. dairy exports so international trade is essential for our continued growth. Over the last decade, the CMAB has worked closely with partners in Asia and Mexico to develop markets for California dairy products. This program is focused on providing insight into international dairy marketing for future leaders like Jessica, Stefani, KayCee, and Makayla, who will work in the dairy business and one day serve on dairy industry boards and lead industry groups,” said Glenn Millar, Director of International Business Development for the CMAB.

The goal of the CMAB International Internship program is to provide agriculture/dairy college students an opportunity to learn about dairy foods and marketing in the international marketplace. The program looks to develop leaders who will serve on dairy industry boards and work in dairy foods production, processing, or sales/marketing.

2021-05-12T11:17:08-07:00July 12th, 2019|

Friant Water Blueprint Focused on Counties South of Delta

Blueprint Will Help Deliver Message for More Water

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

An important blueprint for the success of farming in the Central Valley is being developed to present to California government officials. This blueprint outlines what must be done to get water to the eight counties south of the delta. The blueprint is a critical step to help keep farmers in business due to the pressure from the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Johnny Amaral is the Friant Water Authority, Chief of External Affairs. Amaral overseas Friant’s engagement with San Joaquin Valley farmers, businesses, and related industry groups regarding water policy and water supply matters as well as legislative lobbying and communications activities.water allocation

“I remember this isn’t just about farmers. This entire Central Valley depends on a functioning water system. Whether you are a farm owner, a farm worker, a city councilman or somebody who works at a milk plant or at a library, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “San Joaquin Valley is in this together, and it is an all or nothing situation. This is being labeled as a farmer-led effort, and it is misleading.”

“This is a very broad coalition of very unusual interests coming together to promote this,” Amaral said.

2019-07-01T14:46:27-07:00July 1st, 2019|

Elaine Trevino Given USDA Appointment

Almond Alliance President Appointed to USDA Agricultural Trade Policy Advisory Committee 

News Release

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have appointed Almond Alliance President Elaine Trevino to the USDA Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade.

The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee provides advice and information to the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative on the administration of trade policy, including enforcement of existing trade agreements and negotiating objectives for new trade agreements.almond crop

“I am honored to be appointed to this prestigious agricultural trade policy committee,” Trevino said. “Given the almond industry’s dependence on global trade health, this position is an important one to ensure there is a continued strong presence at the table for California almonds.”

Congress established the advisory committee system in 1974 to ensure a private-sector voice in establishing U.S. agricultural trade policy objectives to reflect U.S. commercial and economic interests. USDA and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative jointly manage the committee.

2019-06-19T22:50:19-07:00June 18th, 2019|

Rep. Josh Harder: Trade War With India Must End for Almond Industry

India is Top Export Destination for Almonds, Worth $650 Million Annually

News Release

Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) released the following statement after India imposed retaliatory tariffs up to 70 percent on American products, including almonds. Rep. Harder’s district is one of the largest producers of almonds in the country, and India is the top export destination for the product.

Josh Harder

Josh Harder

“This trade war has to end. The president is shooting from the hip on his trade policy and it’s Central Valley almond farmers that are left holding the bag. India is our top export partner and we just can’t afford to take this hit. I’m going to continue pushing the administration and the USDA to stop this devastating cycle of retaliatory tariffs. We need to be supporting our farmers, not cutting off our markets and depressing our economy.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States exported over $650 million worth of almonds to India in 2018.

 

 

2019-06-18T20:59:02-07:00June 18th, 2019|
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