Gov. Brown Makes Key Appointments to Ag Industry

Oct. 20, 2017 – -Gov. Brown recently made several appointments important to agriculture including a new special counsel to the air resources board and three members of the Board of Food and Agriculture.  Below are the announcements from the Governor’s Office:

Virgil Welch, 41, of Sacramento, has been appointed special counsel to the chair at the California Air Resources Board. Welch has been a partner at AJW Inc. since 2016. He was special assistant to the chair at the California Air Resources Board from 2008 to 2016. Welch was an attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund from 2006 to 2008, where he was climate change coordinator from 2006 to 2007. He was legislative director at the Planning and Conservation League from 2005 to 2006, where he was legislative advocate and project manager from 2003 to 2005.

Rachelle Arizmendi, 45, of Sierra Madre, has been appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Arizmendi has been mayor of the City of Sierra Madre since 2017, where she served as a member of the city council from 2014 to 2017. She has been vice president and chief operating officer at the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment since 2016, where she was director of head start from 2000 to 2014 and a registered dietitian from 1998 to 2000. Arizmendi was nutrition adjunct faculty at Pasadena City College from 2013 to 2015. She earned a Master of Science degree in family and consumer sciences from Eastern Illinois University.

Crystal Hayling, 53, of San Mateo, has been appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Hayling has been executive director at the Libra Foundation since 2017. She was managing director at the Aspen Institute from 2016 to 2017, a principal at C2 Projects from 2010 to 2015, president and chief executive officer at the Blue Shield of California Foundation from 2004 to 2009 and senior advisor at the Marguerite Casey Foundation from 1997 to 2003. She was senior program officer at the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund from 1995 to 1997, senior program officer at the California Wellness Foundation from 1992 to 1995, an associate director at the University of California, Los Angeles California Self-Help Center from 1990 to 1992 and program director at the Los Angeles Women’s Foundation from 1988 to 1990. Hayling is a member of the OvaCure US Foundation Board, Women’s Foundation of California Board and the Center for Effective Philanthropy Board. She earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Andrew Thulin, 62, of San Luis Obispo, has been appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. Thulin has served as dean of the California Polytechnic State University College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences since 2013, where he was head of the Animal Science Department from 1998 to 2013. He was technology manager at the Cargill Corporation from 1991 to 1998 and an associate professor at Michigan State University from 1985 to 1991. Thulin earned Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in nutrition from Kansas State University.

Assemblymember Rubio visits Mariani Nut Company

Oct. 20, 2017 – -Almond Alliance continues to work on developing relationships with moderate democrats. Tours are one of the most valuable tools we use to educate California’s urban legislators about who we are and what we do. Assembly Member Blanca Rubio (D-Bladwin Park) toured Mariani Nut Company of Winters this week. She has taken it upon herself to learn about the many facets of ag in our state. Continue reading “Assemblymember Rubio visits Mariani Nut Company”

Legislature Fails to Accelerate Renewable Energy

Oct. 6, 2017 – – This legislative session saw the introduction of 2,980 bills. Of those 1,294 bills made it to the Governor’s desk, where approximately 600 still wait for action before the October 15th deadline.  While this was a very productive legislative session, several bills attempting to accelerate the Renewable Portfolio Standard or add fairness to the energy procurement process failed to make it to the Governor.

The Almond Alliance worked diligently with a coalition of biomass and bioenergy producers to support AB 920 (Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Napa).  This measure addressed baseload electric generation facilities (biomass and geothermal) and requires the California Public Utilities Commission to determine what types of generation resources investor owned utilities are required to procure. Publicly owned utilities would be required to make the same assessment. The bill attempted to ensure a specific level of baseload energy production was from these sources.  Over significant advocacy from the Investor Owned Utilities and wind and solar producers, the bill was held in appropriations committee and became a two year bill.

SB 100 (Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles) would have required sellers of electricity to procure a minimum of 60 percent of their electricity products from eligible renewable-generation resources by 2030; currently, they must procure 50 percent by 2030. In addition, the bill set aspirational goals of meeting 100 percent of retail sales of electricity with eligible renewable generation and zero-carbon resources by 2045. The bill further required all state agencies to plan for 100% carbon free energy by 2045, which made entities that receive water from the State Water Project nervous since they have energy resources contracted beyond 2045.  The bill was held on the Assembly floor and is a two year bill.

SB 49 (Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles; Henry Stern, D-Agoura Hills) would require California to enforce the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and their implementing regulations and policies as were in place on January 19, 2017. If it was determined that the federal government had weakened any of those laws, California agencies would be required to adopt regulations, with extremely limited public input, to be at least as stringent as what was in place on January 19, 2017. Additionally, the bill would create a private right of action in state law for citizen enforcement of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and ESA if the citizen suit provisions were removed from these federal laws or any of those laws were “weakened.”  It remained in the Assembly Rules Committee because it did not have the necessary votes to pass, but will be eligible for another vote when the Legislature returns in January.

AB 813 and AB 726 (Holden) were two bills that were “gutted and amended” in the last two weeks of the session that intended to be vehicles to push the Investor Owned Utilities to accelerate procurement of renewables in order to take advantage of the expiring federal tax credit and to incorporate the Governor’s preferred approach to regionalization.  AB 813 and AB 726 became essentially the same bills as the end of session neared.  Ultimately, all energy entities expressed strong opposition and both bills were held in the Senate Energy Committee.

Governor Signs Bill to Protect Undocumented Labor

Oct. 6, 2017 – – This week the Governor signed AB 450 (Chiu) which seeks to ensure that all California workers, regardless of immigration status, are provided the protections afforded to them under state law “without fear of harassment, detention, or deportation.” In short, the bill prohibits an employer from providing access to a federal government immigration enforcement agent to any non-public areas of a place of labor if the agent does not have a warrant.  According to the author, this bill will help achieve this by insisting that federal immigration enforcement agents meet the full procedural requirements of federal law and by making affected workers aware of federal enforcement actions and cognizant of their rights during such actions.

The bill started as a very controversial measure that business and ag interests, including the association, vigorously opposed.  However, after many amendments and negotiations, the bill was emended in the final week to align with federal requirements, allow notice requirements to suffice for good faith compliance and to include due process language.

The amendments removed opposition from the association and other entities including the Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau.




SJVAPCD Toxics Emissions Inventory Plan Notices

Oct. 6, 2017 – -Recently, some Almond Alliance  members have received notifications from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD) that they need to submit a Toxics Emissions Inventory Plan (TEIP) to comply with AB 2588, the Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Information & Assessment Act. AB 2588 was passed in 1987, and until recently, most almond huller/shellers and processors did not have compliance requirements under AB 2588. In March 2015, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) adopted changes to the Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Program Guidance Manual for the Preparation of Risk Assessments (Risk Assessment Guidelines). These revisions were mainly designed to provide enhanced protection to children as required by “The Children’s Environmental Health Protection Act.” Generally, the new adopted methodologies result in an increase in calculated health risk compared to previously estimated risk. As a result, the District is reassessing all facilities’ risk under the revised health risk estimation method.

All facilities emitting air toxics will be evaluated through the “Hot Spots” process in coordination with the District. Under this process, affected facilities are required to prepare a TEIP and Toxics Emissions Inventory Report (TEIR) to quantify site-specific inventories of air toxics emitted. Facilities currently on a quadrennial cycle under the “Hot Spots” program will remain on their current schedule for “Hot Spots” reassessment. For other facilities subject to “Hot Spots” reassessment, the District will follow the phased schedule below, starting in 2016-2017:

–    Year 1, Phase I Facilities: more than 25 Tons of Emissions per Year

–    Year 2, Phase II Facilities: more than 10 and less than 25 Tons of Emissions per Year

–    Year 3, Phase III Facilities: less than 10 Tons of Emissions per Year

–    Year 4, Phase IV Facilities: Industry-Wide and Agricultural Operations

The SJVAPCD will provide each facility with a customized TEIP template, which is basically an outline of all the equipment you have on-site based on your permits. The TEIP requires the facility to report both permitted and non-permitted equipment, describing what the equipment does, the type of emissions it has, and how to calculate the emissions. Once the TEIP is submitted, the District will review the TEIP, approve it, and then a TEIR will be due. The District will review the TEIR and then perform a prioritization analysis. Facilities will be classified as low-priority, intermediate-priority, or high-priority facilities. For low-priority facilities, no further information will be required. For intermediate-priority facilities, a toxics survey will be required every 4 years. For high-priority facilities, a health risk assessment will be required.

The Almond Alliance is partnering with Yorke Engineering to provide our members with a complimentary one-hour webinar to further explain the requirements of AB 2588 and answer any questions you may have. Yorke Engineering can also provide our members with compliance assistance.

Air Board sets Community Air Monitoring meetings

Oct. 6, 2017 – – The California Air Resources Board (CARB) will be holding informational meetings to discuss the development and implementation of community air monitoring programs and is soliciting participation. AB 617 (C. Garcia) created the Community Air Protection Program (CAPP or Program) in legislation enacted this summer. The Program’s focus is to reduce exposure in neighborhoods most impacted by air pollution. Over the next few years, CARB staff will be working closely with local air districts, community groups, community members, environmental organizations, and regulated industries to reduce harmful air emissions and create this new framework for community air monitoring.

The meetings will provide an opportunity for discussion with community members and stakeholders as we begin the implementation and development process. Each meeting will include a short presentation followed by group discussion of key elements of the program.  Each meeting will follow the same format and present the same material.  The agenda and presentation will be posted before the meetings on CARB’s website.

Informational meetings will be held at the locations and dates shown below.  Meetings will follow the same format and present the same material.

Oakland: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm 

Elihu Harris Building

1515 Clay Street, Room 11

Oakland, California 94612


Sacramento: Wednesday, October 18, 2017 | 1:00 – 3:00 pm (webcast option)

California Environmental Protection Agency Headquarters

Sierra Hearing Room

1001 I Street

Sacramento, California 95814


Los Angeles: Monday, October 23, 2017 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Caltrans District 7 Office Conference Room 01.040

100 South Main Street

Los Angeles, California 90012


Fresno: Thursday, November 9, 2017 | 6:00 – 8:00 pm

University of California, Fresno Center Inyo/Kern Room

550 E. Shaw Avenue

Fresno, California 93710



Alliance supports funding for USDA export promotion programs

(Sept. 29, 2017) – – The Almond Alliance of California welcomes and strongly supports bipartisan legislation introduced this week that would increase funding to successful U.S. Department of Agriculture export promotion programs and help U.S. farmers maintain an edge in the increasingly competitive global marketplace.

The bill, the Cultivating Revitalization by Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act, aims to revitalize the USDA’s export promotion programs, which generated a net return of $28.30 for every dollar invested between 1977 and 2014. The CREAATE Act would aid two of the USDA’s most successful programs, the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development Program (FMDP), by doubling their funding over five years. Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) introduced a companion bill, H.R. 2321 (115), in the House earlier this year.

“These export promotion programs have been a significant factor in the successful efforts to export California almonds,” said Almond Alliance of California President Kelly Covello. “These funds help us leverage growers’ assessment dollars in some of the other markets where we do not receive export promotion funds. Funding for these programs has not increased in many years, despite more participants and the increased role of agricultural exports.”

Covello pointed out that without MAP funding, the California almond industry “might not have entered China, which is now our third largest export market. These funds have helped us enter the market, do preliminary research and grow the program.”

California produces about 80% of the world’s almonds and virtually 100% of the U.S. commercial supply and are California’s number one agricultural export at a value of $5.1 billion in 2015. “The industry anticipates the crop will increase by 25 percent in the next three to five years,” noted Covello. “Expanding and creating new markets will be key to the future success of California almonds.”

MAP was established in 1985, and allows agricultural trade associations, farmer cooperatives, non-profit trade groups, and small businesses to apply for either generic or brand-specific promotion funds to support exporting efforts. Generic commodity funds are issues with a 10-percent minimum matching fund, while brand-specific funds require a funding match of at least 50%.


FMDP was first developed in 1955, and is largely used for the promotion of bulk commodities, helping agricultural trade associations establish permanent presences in important markets. It also includes a matching fund requirement.

USDA export programs like MAP and FDMP have added an annual average of $8.15 billion to the value of American agricultural exports, and added up to 239,800 full and part-time jobs, including 90,000 farm sector jobs. Despite these successes, MAP and FDMP funding has not increased since the 2002 Farm Bill, even as competitors increase their efforts; for example, the European Union’s spending for the promotion of wine exceeded the total budget of MAP and FMDP in 2017. The CREAATE Act would curb this trend by providing the agricultural community with the level of support they need.

Almonds Around the World

Key facts to know about the export of California Almonds:

  • California produces about 80% of the world’s almonds and virtually 100% of the U.S. commercial supply.
  • Almonds are California’s Number One agricultural export at a value of $5.1 billion.
  • Almonds are the United States’ Number One specialty crop export
  • 68% of the crop is exported to more than 90 countries worldwide

The Almond Alliance of California is a trade association representing the interests of the California Almond industry including almond growers, hullers/shellers, and processors. For more information, visit


Clean Air Action Plan Concerns for Los Angeles, Long Beach Ports

Sept. 29, 2017 – -The Almond Alliance joined a coalition representing manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors, and transportation and logistics providers who use the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, voicing concerns on the Draft 2017 Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) Update.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have achieved large reductions in pollutants and greenhouse gases over past 10-plus years. While the ports and stakeholders must continue to build upon the successes achieved so far, we are significantly concerned with several aspects of the Draft Clean Air Action Plan Update. These include the lack of information with respect to the commercial availability of specified technologies, the uncertainty of the draft plan’s cost, the absence of any analysis regarding the ports’ future competitiveness, the exclusion of certain technologies and fuels, and the lack of a cost benefit analysis on the air quality benefits that would result from this program.

Read Final Comments

Almonds and Ag are Focus in New San Joaquin Valley Air Quality Plan

Sept. 29, 2017 – -Several proposed control measures that would affect almond production were discussed at Tuesday’s public workshop hosted by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District on the 2017 PM2.5 Attainment Strategy. Following rejection of an earlier District plan by the California Air Resources Board, the Valley Air District is expressly “leaving no stone unturned.” Proposed strategies include more stringent limits on agricultural burning, “backstop” control measures that would require conversion to higher-tier motors in ag equipment should voluntary measures fail to deliver necessary reductions, and enhanced Conservation Management Practices to reduce fugitive dust from cropland tilling and fallow lands.

Agriculture has significantly reduced its air quality impacts through voluntary, incentive based programs funded by the Valley Air District and USDA-NRCS. In 2016 the Almond Alliance, with technical assistance from the Almond Board, worked with NRCS to developed and incentive program under EQIP for almond harvest equipment where growers receive a per acre incentive over a three-year period for using lower emitting harvesters.

During Tuesday evening’s workshop reducing harvest dust through a newly developed incentive program for low-dust harvesters was also discussed as a potential Community-Level Targeted Strategy. In coordination with the SJVAPCD, the Almond Board is currently funding experiments with all four harvest equipment manufacturers to document the amount of PM2.5 that is reduced using new equipment compared to conventional harvest equipment. This research will be used to develop an additional incentive program for harvesters. The Almond Alliance, along with other groups, worked during the last legislative session to get $250 million for ag from California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a portion of which can be used for a newly developed almond harvester incentive program.

The Almond Board is also funding research into alternatives to ag burning, including whole orchard recycling. This and other potential projects will be further explored at a Biomass Summit being organized by the District Nov. 7-8  Details can be found at

The Almond Alliance, working with the Almond Board under our memorandum of agreement, will continue to engage on behalf of the almond industry on these issues.

Almond Alliance Partners with Western Growers to Expand Insurance Services

Sept. 29, 2017 – – The Almond Alliance of California, an association dedicated to ensuring the sustainability and success of the California almond community, has developed a strategic alliance with Western Growers Insurance Services Inc. (WGIS) to advance the breadth of health benefits and insurance services available to members of the Alliance. On Sept. 27, the Alliance and WGIS entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to provide proprietary insurance programs and full-service risk management solutions to its members including almond processors, huller/shellers and growers. Under the partnership agreement, the Almond Alliance will endorse and promote WGIS as a preferred insurance broker for all lines of insurance.

“We represent over 80 percent of the almonds processed in California, and this new strategic alliance with Western Growers Insurance Services will be crucial in helping advance our mission of enabling the almond community to conduct their businesses as efficiently as possible,” said Kelly Covello, president of the Almond Alliance of California.

Backed by WGIS’ access to global markets, WG’s insurance programs leverage a proprietary approach unique to agriculture and builds an insurance solution that is fully customizable and tailored to each individual organization. The partnership agreement stipulates that now all Almond Alliance members will be offered WG’s insurance programs such as tailored insurance solutions, employee health benefits, general liability, crop insurance, workers compensation and more.

“This partnership goes beyond expanding member benefits,” said Jeff Gullickson, senior vice president of WGIS. “Our alliance is a step forward in a collaborative effort to jointly develop solutions and offer unique insurance offerings that will not only benefit the almond sector, but will advance the industry as a whole.”

Members of the Almond Alliance who enroll in any of the WG’s insurance solutions will receive comprehensive consultation to assist in the prevention of recalls, mitigate exposure and expertly navigate through any recall-related event.