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.

Almond Growers Helped In Trade Dispute

Almond Grower and Board Chair Holly King Attends White House Briefing with President

News Release

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.trade

“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 Program and $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.”

Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month

In U.S., One-Third of all Available Food Goes Uneaten Through Loss or Waste. 

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kick off Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month by calling for greater collaboration with public, private, and nonprofit partners as well as state and local officials to educate and engage consumers and stakeholders throughout the supply chain on the need to reduce food loss and waste.

In the U.S., more than one-third of all available food goes uneaten through loss or waste. Food is the single largest type of waste in our daily trash. In recent years, great strides have been made to highlight and mitigate food loss and waste, but the work has just begun. When food is tossed aside, so too are opportunities for economic growth, healthier communities, and environmental prosperity—but that can change through partnership, leadership, and action. Further elevating the importance of this issue, the recent announcement follows a Presidential Message from President Trump acknowledging the month of April as Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month and encouraging public action and participation from all sectors.

“Reducing food waste and redirecting excess food to people, animals, or energy production provide immediate benefits to public health and the environment. I am proud to join President Trump and my federal partners in recognizing April as Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said. “We are working closely with our federal partners and stakeholders across the nation to reduce the amount of food going to landfills and maximize the value of our food resources.”

“USDA alone cannot end food waste, it will require partners from across the supply chain working together on innovative solutions and consumer education. We need to feed our hungry world, and by reducing food waste, we can more wisely use the resources we have. I am pleased President Trump identified this issue as one of importance, and I look forward to USDA’s continued work with our agency partners at EPA and FDA to change behavior in the long term on food waste,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said.

“With 1 in 6 people getting a foodborne illness every year in the U.S. and up to 40 percent of food left uneaten, it’s understandable why food safety and food waste are major societal concerns,” FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas said. “The FDA is working to strengthen its collaboration and coordination with the EPA and USDA to strategically align our federal efforts between the two issues to better educate Americans on how to reduce food waste and how it can be done safely.”

As part of the month’s observances, on April 9, EPA will host a live-streamed event with USDA and FDA. Additional joint agency actions will be announced at the event regarding the Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative. At the event, a panel of food waste stakeholders will share how state and local communities can join the federal government in reducing food waste and loss.

USDA, EPA, and FDA invite public and private partners to participate in Winning on Reducing Food Waste Month through the following:

  • Join the conversation: Share your efforts with the #NoWastedFood hashtag in your social media posts throughout the month.
  • Educate your community: Learn about USDA, EPA, and FDA programs and resources to reduce food loss and waste.
  • Be a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion: Join other corporate and business leaders who have made a public commitment to reducing food loss and waste in their U.S. operations by 50 percent by the year 2030.

The Winning on Reducing Food Waste Initiative is a collaborative effort among USDA, EPA, and FDA to reduce food loss and waste through combined and agency-specific action. Individually and collectively, these agencies contribute to the initiative, encourage long-term reductions, and work toward the goal of reducing food loss and waste in the United States. These actions include research, community investments, education and outreach, voluntary programs, public-private partnerships, tool development, technical assistance, event participation, and policy discussion.

California FSA Offices Reopen for Farm Loan Program Service

Offices Will Open Temporarily for Farm Loan Program

Message from USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Aubrey J. D. Bettencourt:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers. [CLICK HERE to read official press release.] The following California FSA Offices will be open for Farm Loan Program Service only January 17th, 18th, and 22nd from 8am-4:30pm.

California Bakersfield Service Center 5080 California Ave, Suite 150, Bakersfield, CA (661) 336-0967
California Merced Service Center 2926 G Street, Suite 103, Merced, CA 95342 (209) 722-4119
California Modesto Service Center 3800 Cornucopia Way STE E, Modesto, CA (209) 491-9320
California Redding Service Center 3644 Avtech Pkwy, Redding, CA 96002 (530) 226-2568
California Salinas Service Center 744 La Guardia St Bldg A, Salinas, CA 93907 (831) 424-1036
California Santa Maria Service Center 920 E Stowell Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93455 (805) 928-9269
California Stockton Service Center 7585 S. Longe Street, Stockton, CA 95209 (209) 337-2124
California Ukiah Service Center 1252 Airport Park Blvd STE B1, Ukiah, CA 95483 (707) 468-9223
California Willows Service Center 132 N Enright Ave, Willows, CA 95988 (530) 934-4601
California Yreka Service Center 215 Executive CT STE A, Yreka, CA 96099 (530) 842-6123
California Yuba City Service Center 1521 Butte House Rd STE B, Yuba, City, CA 95994 (530) 671-0850

 

Farm Loan Program services available include Processing Payments made on or before Dec. 31, 2018, Continuing Expiring Financing Statements, and Responding to General Loan Inquires. Producers are encouraged to call their nearest FSA Farm Loan Program Service Center listed above with any questions.

Farm Program services, such as MFP, will not be administered at this time. However, due to the extension previously granted on MFP, I’d encourage your producers to email their applications to their FSA county directors, whose contact can be found here. MFP applications will be processed as soon as normal operations resume upon conclusion of the shutdown. Producers who already applied for MFP and certified their 2018 production by December 28, 2018 should have already received their payments.

In California, USDA County Service Centers NRCS offices are open daily.  Any NRCS inquires or business, producers can call or visit their county NRCS service center.

Please let me know if you or your members require any further information or clarification. I’m here to help however I can.

Aubrey.Bettencourt@CA.USDA.GOV    (O) 530.792.5540    (C) 530.219.8634

It’s Past Time to Manage California Forests

Reducing Catastrophic Devastation with Preventive Forest Management

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

In light of the deadly Paradise fire in northern California, along with the other devastating fires in the state over the last 10 years, California Ag Today spoke with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke about the state’s forests.

Perdue believes that significant losses could have been averted.

“The issue really right now is what are we going to do about it? These are called disasters. Because of the loss of life, wildland fires have been greater than hurricanes this year,” Perdue said. “We’ve had two significant hurricanes, but the death toll is surpassing that. And the interesting thing in this disaster: these are disasters that we can do some things about, and we need to be about doing things … that we can do, but we need the authority to do that.”

Zinke said that officials need to act on good forest management.

“We talked about active forest management for a long time, but you know, talking’s over,” Zinke said. “It’s now time to act.”

Zinke noted common sense forest principles that need to be addressed at once.

“One is to remove the dead and dying trees; to thin and do prescribed burns late in the season rather than midseason,” Zinke explained. “This is fixable. The president’s right, and this is not just one administration—this goes back years of failure to manage our public lands, and it is absolutely a situation that can be mitigated, but we need to act.

Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior

“It is unsustainable and unacceptable that we have the devastation, the loss of life, but we need to prioritize getting back to an active management system. There are other countries that prevent the devastation,” Zinke said. “I spent a lot of time in Germany, which does not have the scale of fire that we experience. There are models of active forest management that are effective, and this is the time to act.”

But Zinke explained that good forest management in California has a big problem: radical environmentalists.

“Take a look at who’s suing. Every time there is a thinning project, who’s suing. Everyone should recognize that the density of dead and dying trees is higher. The density of trees are higher and there are active forest management principles that we should use to mitigate these devastating forest fires,” Zinke said. “However, when there is lawsuit after lawsuit by, yes, the radical environmental groups that would rather burn down the entire forest than cut a single tree or thin the forest. And it’s easy to find who is suing and who has promulgated these destructive policies.”

Zinke said that he does not want to point fingers just at the environmentalists, though.

“There’s a lot of variables: the season’s getting longer, the temperatures are getting hotter. We’ve had historic drought conditions in California, which has lead to dead and dying trees from beetle kill. There is a high density of trees, with enormous underbrush and those things can be mitigated, but we have to get to work,” he explained.

Perdue challenges the radical environmentalists’ desire for an untouched, pristine forest.

“I think that’s been the theory from well-meaning environmentalist over the years: is that a forest that you did nothing to was pristine,” Perdue said. “We know that’s not to be the case. It gets undergrowth. It gets where you don’t have good recreational activity, poor hiking, poor access or wildlife growth and access, water quality, all those kind of things. It’s not pristine, and that’s the issue that we’re trying to bring up. A well managed, well-groomed forest is always better for all of those kinds of issues.”

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

A well-managed forest provides economy and jobs for rural communities as needed, but wildlife, the recreational aspect, the hiking, the water quality, all those also improve with well-managed forests.

“I think some environmentalists are coming around to that to that way of thinking, I think even some environmentalists realize they’ve overreached and [are] keeping management out of these forests, but we need more to come along, and we need the lawsuits to stop,” Perdue said.

Zinke said public land is for the benefit and the enjoyment of all people and not special interest groups.

“And what we’re seeing in the last decade [is] that special interest groups are really exercising their very tight agenda. The result has been a buildup of fuels coupled with droughts, and with increased density of dead and dying trees, as well as beetle kill. And so the condition of our forest as we look at them today, are not healthy—and they are a threat to populations like, like Paradise, and we can do better,” Zinke explained.

“I think the solution is looking at models that are effective, using best science, best practices, and certainly having more authority or we don’t have to go through an entire Environmental Impact Report (EIS) to cut a single tree,” Zinke said.

And that’s exactly what Zinke had to do when he was a congressman in Montana.

“[As] a former congressman, I sponsored the bill to allow a power company to remove vegetation in a prescribed easement. And it took an act of Congress to move the bill through. But is still gave 60 days for a notification before the power company could remove what was called an imminent danger tree. This is a tree that’s going to fall on the power lines, no doubt … it has a potential of starting a forest fire, but it still took 60 days of notification for a power company to have the authority to remove a single tree in a prescribed easement, he said.

Zinke noted that there are a number of legislative fixes, and some of them can be in the Farm Bill.

“We need more authority to have category exclusions, to do the right thing and take a common sense approach so we don’t have to go through year after year of these 100,000-acre-plus fires that are enormously destructive,” Zinke said.

The massive fires put our firefighters and our communities at risk.

“I do think that America is waking up, and sees that we can manage these forest using best practices, and best science,” Zinke said.

“We should be able to manage our forests. And when nature alone takes this course without management .. it has consequences, and those consequences, unfortunately, have led to entire communities being destroyed and a tremendous amount of loss of life. We can do better and we should,” Zinke explained.