CULTIVATING COMMON GROUND: Almond Board on Assessment Increase

Almond Board’s Response on Assessment Increase

 

Editor’s note: We thank Mike Mason for his contribution to California Ag Today’s CULTIVATING COMMON GROUND, in response to the letter submitted by John Harris.

By Mike Mason, chairman of the Board of Directors, Almond Board of California

 

Over the history of this [almond] marketing order, assessments have risen and fallen to meet changing business conditions. This increase was voted on by the Board of Directors after much input from growers and handlers.  After the vote, the industry had an opportunity to weigh in again during a USDA-administered comment period.  They will get another chance during a second comment period.

Only after growers have had all of these opportunities to voice their opinions will the USDA make a final decision on the assessment.

The Almond Board of Directors welcomes your feedback and is available to discuss any questions you may have about the critical investments and justification for this assessment increase.

Below you will see a memo I sent to the industry, dated April 14 2016.  It covers why and how the assessment is needed and will be used.

Sincerely,

Mike Mason                                                                                                               


Mike Mason is a first generation almond farmer and partner of Supreme Almonds of California, a family owned and operated almond handling operation in Shafter. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Almond Board of California.


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To: Almond Handlers and Growers

From: Mike Mason, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and

Kent Stenderup, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors

Re: Almond Board of California FY 16/17 Budget and Assessment Increase

Date: April 14, 2016

On April 12, the Board of Directors met to review the program and budget recommendations coming forward as a result of the extensive strategic planning efforts which have taken place over the past year.

The Board unanimously agreed to recommend a budget for FY 16/17 with an increase of the assessment from 3 cents per pound to 4 cents for a three year period. The increase is limited to three years due to the expectation that almond production will increase significantly during that time period thereby providing additional funding. This decision was made after extensive dialog among Board members as well as outreach between Board members and Handlers and Growers in the almond community.

There are three principal reasons the Board determined an assessment increase was needed. They are:

  1. 30% increase in production anticipated by 2020. This estimated 600 million pound increase needs to be planned for now, to invest in global demand prior to the production hitting the market.

This substantial volume increase is nearly as much as our largest market currently consumes, and is more than the consumption of our four largest export markets combined. This will require doing more of what has been working, as well as implementing innovative new marketing programs.

  1. Strain on agricultural resources has never been higher. Almonds are currently California’s highest value agricultural crop and soon will be its largest acreage crop. With this leadership comes responsibility. Additional investment will allow us to take a leadership role by investing in and accelerating research which will enable us to address concerns, such as:
    • our changing water supply and quality system,
    • air quality as it relates to harvesting, pesticide and energy use,
    • bee health, which is critical to our success
  2. Transformation of the consumer landscape. The environment in which we are growing and marketing almonds is quickly changing. Consumers are more interested in where and how their food is made. In response to this, the industry needs to take a leading role in the world of sustainable farming, as we have done for so long in the world of nutrition, by transparent communications regarding our meaningful and measured sustainable improvements.

To plan for and address these challenges, your Board of Directors has worked across the Environmental, Production Research, Almond Quality, Technical and Regulatory, and Global Market Development Committees to develop a plan of action. This plan is a two pronged approach including investment in research, via the Accelerated Innovation Management or AIM program (launched at our annual conference), and global marketing:

  • AIM Program: Expand and Accelerate sustainability and production research in 9 areas:
  1. Irrigation and nutrient management
  2. Orchard and rootstock development
  3. Harvesting innovations
  4. Pest management tool development
  5. Pollination research and management practices
  6. Bio-mass and by-product innovation
  7. Food safety leadership
  8. Soil health research
  9. Energy Innovation
  • Global Marketing: Expand our programs to address production growth & changing consumer needs by:
  1. Accelerating programs and results in current markets
  2. Considering additional markets for investment
  3. Increasing communication transparency and trust
  4. Ensuring confidence in our sustainability efforts

Your Board of Directors welcomes your feedback and is available to discuss questions you may have about the critical investments and justification for this assessment increase. The assessment increase will be reviewed by the USDA and an opportunity for public comment will be provided before any change is implemented.

 

1150 Ninth St., Ste. 1500  *  Modesto, CA  95354  USA

T: +1.209.549.8262  *  F: +1.209.549.8267


To read the original post to which the Almond Board is responding, go to: CULTIVATING COMMON GROUND: Almond Growers on Assessment Increase, by John Harris.


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Early Harvest Season for Almonds

2013 Almond Harvest To Start

Almond harvest should start in earnest in Kern County, most likely next week, given the 100-degree temperatures everywhere. This is very early for this year’s crop size.
“The Nonpareils are going like crazy,” said Vern Crawford, a long-time PCA for Wilbur-Ellis Co., Shafter Branch. “With the crop estimate down, prices are up, and that’s good since growers had to spend so much on mite sprays this year.”
“This is the worst mite year that we’ve ever had–across the whole county,” Crawford noted. “The reason for the high pressure is not exactly clear,” he said.
“But the biggest problem all growers are having is the lack of water,” Crawford said. “We need more dams and we need the cities along the coast to put up desalinization plants to cut their demand on the water we need for agriculture.”
“Many Kern County farmers are now extracting water at the bottom of their wells and will need to spend $250,000 each to go deeper. Those big deep wells on the West Side with 200 HP pumps are sucking the water from the East Side,” he said.
Crawford warned that the groundwater will not last long. “We are going to barely make it through this season with 30 percent allocations. And next season, if we do not get enough water for the vast orchards on the west side of Kern County, on beautiful ground and with every irrigation economy available, particularly drip, growers will go into survival mode,” said Crawford.
Growers will shake their trees at bloom to eliminate the crop and then give the tree a few sips of water so that that it doesn’t die. Hopefully that will get them to another good winter of rain. But still, it will take the trees two full years to recover.
“And it’s amazing that nearly all of these water problems are due to the Delta Smelt,” Crawford said.