A successful advocacy organization relies on teamwork and collaboration. It takes all of us working together to get to a good place for your business. Each year we are dealt a new set of challenges and each year we face them with new strategies and tenacity. While our industry is diverse, we are bound by the commitment to succeed, educate and prevail in this ever-changing political landscape.
The 2019 legislative session was one of the most bizarre and active we have seen in recent years. Our advocacy team worked diligently and tirelessly to defend the industry against harmful legislation and promote logical and practical perspectives when implementing federal and state regulatory changes.
The Almond Alliance continues to advocate for and defend programs that help in the advancement of our industry. The Advocacy Report provides a summary of these bills, key policies and issues for your information and review.
As always, we appreciate your support and invite you to contact us for any questions, comments or to discuss policy and legislation.
Almond Grower and Board Chair Holly King Attends White House Briefing with President
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced almonds will be included in the administration’s new trade mitigation package. This package aims to continue the support of farmers and ranchers impacted by delayed negotiations and trade disruption with China.
Almond Board Chair Holly A. King attended a briefing at the White House recently with President Donald J. Trump and representatives from other major farm groups to discuss the trade mitigation package.
“It is an honor to represent the California almond industry at the White House briefing with President Trump and express appreciation for his efforts to ease the burden of the trade tariffs on California almond growers,” King said. “We have invested heavily in developing the market for California almonds in China for more than 20 years and hope the Administration is successful in negotiating a new trade deal soon so we can get back to business as usual.”
The $16 billion package includes $14.5 billion for the Market Facilitation Program, $1.4 billion in surplus commodity purchases through the Food Purchase and Distribution Programand $100 million in Agricultural Trade Promotion funding. Almonds will be included in the Marketing Facilitation Program. According to the USDA release, “Tree nut producers, fresh sweet cherry producers, cranberry producers and fresh grape producers will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of production.”
The Almond Board has worked closely with the Almond Alliance of California throughout the developing tariff situation to ensure the voice of the California almond industry is heard.
“The Almond Board and Almond Alliance have been actively engaged with USDA, the US Trade Representative and Congress regarding the impact of this trade disruption on almonds. The Alliance has led efforts ensuring almonds are included in the second mitigation package,” said Julie Adams, Vice President of Global, Technical and Regulatory Affairs at the Almond Board. “We look forward to working with USDA in leveraging these funds to best benefit the entire almond industry and our grower communities.”
Overall, trade disputes have underscored the importance of having diverse, healthy export markets, a position of strength that the California almond industry has long enjoyed. For decades, ABC has supported the industry by making significant investments in foreign market development and expansion. Recently, the Almond Board started marketing programs in Italy, Mexico, Germany and re-entered Japan. ABC also ramped up marketing activity in Germany and India.
“While we appreciate almonds’ inclusion in the second package, almonds continue to be impacted by the increase in tariffs, and we’ve seen a significant decline in shipments to China, our third-largest export market,” said Adams. “Getting back to normal trade is critical.”
Like many agricultural sectors, almond growers have also been affected by recent tariff wars. However, almond growers have a true friend in the Modesto-based Almond Alliance.
“We are definitely an advocacy organization, that is the core of what we do,” said Elaine Trevino, president of the Almond Alliance.
“The Almond Alliance educates our legislators, their department officials and cabinet about issues that are important to the almond industry. It is very critical that our elected officials, specifically the urban [ones] that are not familiar with agriculture, understand agriculture. They need to understand … the inputs and the natural resources needed for agriculture, and also understand the best practices that we put into place to be good corporate and small businesses,” Trevino said.
“Obviously with almonds, you have hulls and shells and the biomass that comes with almonds, and so we focus on all aspects of that,” she explained.
Almond growers are being affected by tariffs increases into China. Beginning on April 2nd, the first 232 retaliatory tariffs was seen that affected China. Since then, our turkey has also been affected by the tariffs.
The almond industry exports 67 percent of its production to more than 100 countries.
“Looking at export markets and how they impact the industry is critical. Secretary Purdue came out with the mitigation package,” Trevino said.
The almond industry fought very hard to be included in direct payments. While many say it’s just three cents a pound, the allocation to almonds was $63.3 million.
“It’s our intention that the alliance fight for every penny of that goes back to the growers, and if they are not eligible for the direct payments, then we’ll make sure that they receive it through market promotion that will help move their product and hopefully get those prices back up if they haven’t been affected,” Trevino said.
Almond Alliance Shares Grower Interest with Almond Board
By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
California almond growers are well represented by the Almond Alliance. Elaine Trevino, president of the Modesto-based Almond Alliance, explained the difference between the Almond Alliance and the Almond Board to California Ag Today recently.
“We have a very different structure,” she said. “Almond Board’s budget is based on a mandatory assessment. They cannot do use their dollars for advocacy or political involvement. And so the Almond Alliance was created to help fill that void.”
The Almond Alliance is a membership-based organization. One big issue that California almond growers are facing is water allocation. It is very important to understand federal and state in terms of oversight.
“Water is so complex, and right when you think you understand it, you realize that you don’t,” Trevino said.
She thinks their congressional delegation has worked very hard to fight for the agriculture industry. They call it a water fix.
The water infrastructure in California was designed when the population was one-third of what it is today.
“Until some of those hard discussions of growth and development and storage happen, it’s just going to be continual band-aids and fixes, and it definitely needs to be something much more,” Trevino said.
This is going to take some real leadership and a lot of people have been working very hard at this.
“I’m a big supporter of DeeDee D’Adamo, a member of the California State Water Resources Control Board, because she continues to fight for ag. She is very knowledgeable, especially when there is a water shortage,” Trevino said.
“Until we can start having some of those discussions about above ground water storage and general water use for the state of California, we’re gonna just be putting band-aids on really big problems,” she explained.
Diversification is a strength, Richard Waycott, president of the Almond Board of California, told California Ag Today recently. The Almond Board of California is a nonprofit organization that administers a grower enacted federal marketing order under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When it comes to any losses due to a tariff war in China, the almonds can be redirected to other countries.
“It’s fortunate to be as diversified as we are. Always a strength of this industry is the diversification of our overseas markets,” Waycott said. “I think whatever volume we ultimately do lose—if we do lose volume to China—can be redirected and absorbed by other markets.”
The USDA has opened up a direct payment program to the almond industry if growers were to lose any money in a tariff war.
As those programs were announced, by far the largest piece of the pie, $6 billion, initially was directed to the soybean and corn growers and livestock, while the specialty crops were completely left out of it.
“We got together with the Almond Alliance of California and some of our industry members made a very concerted effort while there was still time to do so before the rules around these programs and those that got to participate were set in stone and were able to convince the powers that be … to open up to the direct payment program to almonds, and the sweet cherry industry did the same,” Waycott explained
Waycott also commented on the epic frost that hit almonds this past spring. And he is not sure of the impact on the crop.
“We realized that we don’t understand the impact of frost on almonds all that well because we saw one side of the street there was quite a bit of damage, while on the other side there was no damage. So I think there’s mother nature at work here that, you know, we don’t necessarily completely understand,” Waycott said.
Call to Growers: Join Postcard Campaign to Stop Additional Pesticide Regulations Near Schools before Friday, Dec. 9
By Brian German, Associate Broadcaster
Proposed DPR Regulations
“The proposed California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) further restricting growers from applying crop protection products near schools is unnecessary,” noted Kelly Covello, president of the Almond Alliance of California, which advocates and lobbies for the almond industry.
“Basically, this proposed rule is going to add a layer of unnecessary regulation. It proposes restricting pesticide applications within a quarter mile of schools and daycare centers between Mondays and Fridays, 6am to 6pm,” said Covello. She noted there are already regulations in place to protect both the community and the applicator.
Likewise, Colleen Cecil, executive director, Butte County Farm Bureau, said, “We’re very confident in the regulation that currently exists and the responsibility that landowners take when it comes to spraying anywhere. There are rules in place and these rules work.”
“The environmental community has done a bang-em-up job at fear-mongering, period. They believe they can take pictures of kids next to fields and make the farmer the bad guy. Nothing can be further from the truth,” Cecil said.
“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of people,” noted Ceil. “As stewards of the land, farmers already do everything in their power to mitigate risks involved in agriculture and the application of pesticide is no exception.” Cecil added, “The puzzling part of the proposed regulation is that DPR have stated themselves that they were ‘unable to quantify the benefits’ and that ‘any health benefits of the prohibitions are unknown.'”
Call for Growers to Take Action
“We have joined California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) and other organizations that are working on this issue,” said Covello. “One of the main calls to action for grower engagement with DPR is CFBF’s postcard campaign. If you would like postcards to share with your grower network, please email email@example.com or simply print from the Postcard PDF document and mail directly to DPR (contact information is on the last page of the PDF document). A high volume of input will be critical.
Growers can also sign and shareCFBF’s petition. Farm Bureau will deliver the petitions to DPR before the comment period closes on December 9.
“This [proposed regulation] really is unnecessary,” said Covello. “There is no science. There is no injury or illness that has sparked the need for new regulations. We are really hoping we can get our growers engaged by sending in a postcard or sending in comments. Again, growers can contact the Almond Alliance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by phone at (209) 300-7140.
“We would be happy to get you a postcard,” Covello said. “We can also email it to anyone. So please help us in this fight to stop unnecessary regulation.”