Almond Export Diversification Helps During Tariff War

Overseas Markets are Vast for Almond Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

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.

Almond Conference Announces AIM Strategy

Annual Almond Conference Announces AIM Strategy and Improved Leadership

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Leadership was the recurring theme for the 3,000+ attendees over the three-day 43rd Annual Almond Conference, hosted by the Almond Board of California last week in Sacramento. “We are focused on the fact that the almond industry is accepting its responsibility to provide leadership for California agriculture and to use our treasure and talent to work on solutions for a lot of the problems that are very daunting,” said Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board. “We have talked a lot about what is expected by consumers and by consumer product goods companies, which is our customer base,” Waycott noted.

At the conference, the Almond Board launched Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM), a major strategic effort designed to further increase the almond industry’s efficiency and sustainability, that features four major initiatives described by Waycott:

Water Management and Efficiency – A focus on accelerating almond farmer transition to more efficient irrigation scheduling and management practices to maximize the most crop per drop of water.  This initiative, which builds on the 33 percent reduction in water used per pound of almonds achieved by the industry over the last 20 years, includes working with farmers to fine tune irrigation techniques and adopting more advanced water management technologies.

Sustainable Water Resources – First, an exploration of how to best leverage a unique strength of the California Almond industry—its acreage—to accelerate natural flood-year groundwater recharge of aquifers. Collectively, California’s aquifers are the state’s largest water storage system; water recharged through this program would benefit all Californians, not just farmers. Second, an investigation of opportunities to recycle water from multiple sources, such as municipal wastewater, as a way of increasing overall water availability for farmers and all Californians.

Air Quality – Investigation of various methods the almond industry can help meet the Central Valley’s exacting air quality standards. This initiative will scrutinize all components of almond farming that impact air quality and evaluate opportunities to decrease emissions. This initiative will identify alternatives, such as decreased fossil fuel use, that will result in cleaner air for all those who live in California’s Central Valley—farmers, their families, and surrounding communities.

22nd Century Agronomics  A recognition that we need to better understand and then adopt the technologies that will lead California farming into the 22nd century. The Almond Board of California will lead a comprehensive exploration of almond farming techniques, bringing an exploratory mindset to consider all options as to what innovations and technical “leap frogs” will be needed to sustainably farm in the future. Each component of almond farming will be considered, from land preparation and varietal development, to equipment and processing.

Link: Almond Board of California

Permission to farm?

Must We Ask Permission to Farm What Consumers Want?

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Associate Editor, California Ag Today

Richard Waycott, president and CEO of the Almond Board of California, discussed the availability of land to grow the crops that consumers want to eat with California Ag Today.

“It’s interesting,” said Waycott, “because we have our current population, plus the anticipated growth in population–not just in the US–but globally. And to the extent we all foresee a future in which people are eating a sufficient number of calories and enjoying a decent standard of living, we must be supportive and understand that land and natural resources will have to be employed judiciously to do that,” said Waycott.

“All crops can’t be grown everywhere,” Waycott noted. “First, the percentage of total land that is arable is pretty small, so you can’t grow anything anywhere. And many times, water availability affects which crops you can grow.”

“With so many people taking issue with irrigating almonds, should we have to ask permission to farm?” asked Waycott.

“There has to be a better understanding that permission to farm is critical so we can meet the dietary and lifestyle needs of generations to come,” he said.

California Almond Board Blog Goes Live!

Richard Waycott, President and CEO of the Almond Board of California, launched its new Almond Board blog, almonds.com, TODAY, with the inaugural post (dated 7/22/14), “The Almond Board of California is a What? Understanding Federal Marketing Orders.”

Back in 1950, almond growers asked the United States Department of Agriculture to approve a Federal Marketing Order, so they could all work together to improve the quality and marketing of their crop.  The Almond Board of California was born. A lot has changed since our establishment 64 years ago, including a name change (we used to be called the Almond Control Board) and the broadening of our programs from what initially was just quality standards compliance. Today, we call ourselves an agricultural promotion group.

In their current form, agricultural promotion groups are made up of farmers – in our case growers and handlers – who work together to educate consumers and to research, innovate and promote what they produce.

While you may have never heard of us before, these groups are part of an American tradition and are ingrained in our culture. Whether it’s the dancing California raisins, “Got Milk?,” “Incredible Edible Egg,” “Pork: The Other White Meat” or “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner,” agricultural promotion groups have created and funded these campaigns. (By the way, have you seen our own “Crunch On” ad campaign that was launched in 2013?)

Different ag promotion groups work in different ways, but essentially they are founded and funded by industry members. They are not funded by taxpayers, which is an occasional misconception. Each year almond handlers contribute money to fund Almond Board marketing and research programs. We develop our own programs and direct our own research, with the USDA providing oversight and review of all external messaging, to make sure they are accurate and comply with FDA and FTC regulations.

At the Almond Board of California, we have worked hard not only to help our favorite nut overcome certain negative perceptions due to their oil content, but more importantly to become the number one nut that surveyed North American consumers associate with being nutritious and heart healthy.*† By creating demand for almonds, we work to build global markets for California Almond growers and handlers.

In terms of research, we have funded $42 million in almond quality and food safety, nutrition, environmental, and production research since 1973.  From developing a new nutritional supplement for our pollinators – the honeybee – to improving water efficiency by 33 percent per pound of almonds produced over the last two decades, the Almond Board constantly strives to be a stellar guardian of the natural resources that almond growers and handlers employ to produce one of the finest foods in the world.

Click here to learn more about the Almond Board of California.

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*ABC North American Attitudes, Awareness and Usage Study, 2013

†Good news about almonds and heart health.  Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of almonds as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.  One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and 1g of saturated fat.