Almond Alliance Conference Registration Opens January 22, 2018

Dec. 18, 2017 – -Registration opens Jan. 22, 2018 for the Almond Alliance’s 37th Annual Convention May 1-3, 2018 at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey, California.  The Almond Alliance hosts an annual four-day convention, which includes opportunities for both Regular and Associate members. This is the event where business happens!

At the convention:

The trade-show allows Associate members to directly market their latest products and services straight to Regular members and other industry professionals.

Informational seminars are held to provide updates, tools and resources about current issues facing the almond industry.

Our annual business meeting affords members the opportunity to get insight and understanding of the Almond Alliance activities on behalf of our members and industry.

A number of networking activities, including: dinner banquets, cocktail hours, a golf tournament, tennis tournament, and other site specific events.

If you have any questions about the convention or interested in sponsorship opportunities please email ahollis@almondalliance.org 

Scoping Plan Carries Governor Brown’s Climate Legacy Forward

Dec. 18, 2017By Emily Rooney, Ag Council President

In a move further solidifying Governor Jerry Brown’s climate change legacy, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the Climate Change Scoping Plan Update (Scoping Plan) on December 14, 2017. The Scoping Plan is important for the ag community because it is a roadmap to help Governor Jerry Brown’s administration consider new policy measures, regulations, planning efforts and investments to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Why does the Scoping Plan exist, you ask?  Back in 2015, Governor Brown issued an executive order to establish an aggressive target for California to reduce GHG emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030.  The 40 percent target is an interim step toward attaining an 80 percent GHG emissions reduction goal by 2050.  The GHG reduction targets were codified into law when the governor signed SB 32 (Pavley) in 2016.  Under a new law signed in 2017, AB 398 (E. Garcia), CARB is directed to update the Scoping Plan, which creates the game plan to reach those goals, by January 1, 2018.

The Scoping Plan is the result of a two-year process, including gathering input from a range of state agencies and impacted stakeholders.  Throughout the process, Ag Council has and continues to work on behalf of our members by providing public testimony, writing comment letters and holding one-on-one meetings with regulatory staff.  In our communication efforts, we convey the story of agriculture’s many achievements to reduce emissions and adopt on-farm conservation practices, as the Almond Alliance itself can attest to given its members’ accomplishments in these areas.

In communicating with state officials, Ag Council also reminds regulators to take into account all of the numerous climate programs and mandates farmers are already subject to in California. The final Scoping Plan recognizes that California agriculture is critical to global food security and the document cites the contributions agriculture makes to meet the state’s long-term goals for carbon sequestration, GHG reduction and climate change adaptation.

Moving forward, CARB is outlining concepts aimed at protecting, supporting and encouraging innovation in agriculture. CARB plans to:

* Develop and implement a strategy that includes maintaining agricultural lands as a net carbon sink;

* Measure, monitor and track progress to better quantify carbon stored; and

* Provide opportunities in the agricultural sector by improving manure management, boosting soil health, generating renewable power, electrifying operations, utilizing waste biomass, and increasing water, fertilizer and energy use efficiency to reduce emissions.

Achieving the ambitious goals laid out will require collaboration with and support from state and local agencies.  Ag Council is committed to working closely with CARB and other stakeholders on incentives and voluntary approaches for farmers and food processors to help agriculture remain competitive globally, while reducing emissions and sequestering carbon at the same time.

For questions regarding the Scoping Plan, please contact us at (916) 443-4887 or visit our website at www.agcouncil.org for further information.

Almond Alliance Advocates for FDA Regulatory Reform Specific to Almond Industry

Dec. 18, 2017 – -The Almond Alliance of California (Almond Alliance) submitted comments on behalf of the California Almond industry including the Almond Board of California (ABC) to help the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identify existing regulations and related paperwork requirements that could be modified, repealed, or replaced.

As FDA considers opportunities to streamline and simplify the regulations to reduce burdens on industry, the Alliance has identified two specific areas where regulatory reform could make a significant difference for the California almond industry while still protecting public health. These recommendations are specific to the almond industry and would not currently apply to any other tree nuts as the almond industry is currently the only tree nut industry with a validated pasteurization program:

  1. Add California almonds to the Produce Safety Rule’s “rarely consumed raw” list, so that they are exempt from the rule.

California almonds should be recognized as “rarely consumed raw.” To achieve this result, FDA should consider petitions from industry seeking amendments to the “rarely consumed raw” list. When the agency considers such petitions, it should consider food safety-related information, like the Federal Marketing Order (FMO) requirement for commercial processing, rather than NHANES data. Additionally, where appropriate and necessary, the “rarely consumed raw” list should identify particular subsets of produce commodities – such as “California almonds” rather than “almonds.” This would address any concerns the agency has that foreign almonds are not subject to the FMO.

Rule-making to add California almonds to the “rarely consumed raw” list would be deregulatory in nature, and therefore consistent with the recent Executive Orders.

Alternatively, should a deregulatory rule-making prove too difficult to execute, FDA could use a Compliance Policy Guide to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to California almonds—functionally treating them as if they are on the list in the regulation.

  1. Remove the written assurance provisions from the commercial processing exemption under the Produce Safety rule, so that only written disclosures are needed to qualify for the exemption when there is a FMO in place.

FDA should rescind the written assurance provisions in situations where a FMO is in place that requires commercial processing.  This is appropriate for public health because the FMO already ensures that the food is subject to adequate treatment.  Use of only the written disclosure provision is adequate to ensure that recipients of the food understand that it is for further processing.

Rule-making to remove the written assurance provisions from the regulation in these situations is deregulatory in nature, and therefore consistent with the recent Executive Order.  Should rule making not prove feasible, FDA could use another tool like a Compliance Policy Guide to announce that it will exercise enforcement discretion for the written assurance provisions in perpetuity.

 

Almond Alliance of California Announces Andrea York as Acting President

Dec. 18, 2017 – -Following the announcement of Almond Alliance of California President Kelly Covello’s resignation effective Dec. 31, 2017, Almond Alliance Chairman Brad Craven has outlined the transition process to find a new President:

“A multi-layered search is underway that employs professional search agencies while also tapping into the almond industry for references and inquiries. We expect this process to take some time as we conduct a thorough search for the next leader of our association.

For the interim period beginning in January, Andrea York, Manager of Government Affairs, will serve as Acting President. Ms. York brings a decade of non-profit association management to the interim position and has the full support of the Board of Directors. Additionally, our experienced and capable staff, Ashley Hollis and Annie Romero will continue in their positions and all of Alliance’s member-driven programs will continue to function as usual during this transition period.

The Almond Alliance Board of Directors realizes that selecting the association’s next leader is a hugely important task. As the search moves forward during the coming weeks, we will be keeping our membership informed and involved in the process. We welcome any comments from members about this critical task and urge them to direct all emails to Ashley Hollis at ahollis@almondalliance.org and we will respond in a timely manner.”

 

Almond Alliance President Kelly Covello Announces Resignation Effective Dec. 31, 2017

Dec. 13, 2017 – -Almond Alliance President Kelly Covello has announced her resignation effective Dec. 31, 2017. In making the announcement, Kelly said that while she was very proud of the role she had played in the development of the association over the past seven years, the many long days came at a price of spending time away from her family and it was time to put her family first. “I have enjoyed my tenure with the association, and I am more than grateful for the encouragement and support you have given me in pursuing my professional and personal growth objectives,” she said in her letter to the board.

Almond Alliance Chairman Brad Craven thanked Kelly for her dedication to the association and acknowledge how hard the decision to step down must be. “The board supports Kelly’s decision to put her family first, and we wish her all the best in her new career direction,” he said. “Kelly came to the AHPA with a vision for our trade association and a remarkable ability to implement that vision.  We can credit her for the many great steps we have taken:  our almond food safety program, the Almond Board of California Memorandum of Agreement, the Strategic Planning retreat and the resulting rebranding of the AHPA as the Almond Alliance of California, the Almond PAC and the tremendous advocacy effort, and the initiation of almond hull research on a shoestring budget that has blossomed into a major industry focus with ample resources.  The entire almond industry owes a great debt to Kelly for the asset that the Almond Alliance has become.  She will be sorely missed, and difficult to replace.”

Chairman Craven pointed out that the board was unanimous in its strong belief that, “Thanks to Kelly, the Alliance has taken a giant leap toward its vision to be the premier advocate dedicated to the California almond community and is in a strong position going forward.”

Craven said the board was working with Kelly to come up with a transition plan and that all of the associations programs will continue uninterrupted. “We appreciate Kelly’s willingness to work with the board during this transition phase and ensure that the transition to her successor is seamless.”

Past Chairman Dick Cunningham pointed out the major contributions Kelly had made in transitioning the association from the Almond Hullers and Processors Association to a much more aggressive advocacy organization. “Kelly has been the best thing to ever happen to our association. I’m so grateful to her for all her hard work on behalf of our membership. She has set down the foundation of a great trade association that we must continue to build on. I fully support her decision to seek a new path for herself and wish her all the best going forward. Kelly has offered to help in our transition to new leadership and I welcome her assistance in that regard.”

Long-time director Barbara Smith thanked Kelly for her service, noting, “Kelly’s enthusiasm and sincere personality to assist any one of our members when needed was amazing.   It is something one cannot purchase with salary or benefits, it comes from within.  I completely understand her decision to put family first.  I wish Kelly the very best and there is no doubt she will succeed in whatever new endeavor she wants to tackle.”

Almond Alliance Fights for IC-DISC in U.S. Senate Tax Reform

Dec. 3, 2017 – -Across the nation, all eyes are on Congress and the Republican push for tax reform. The overhaul promises to bring simplicity and tax relief to Americans, but at risk for the CA Almond Industry is the elimination two key tax tools utilized by many of you- the Interest Charge Domestic International Sales Corporations (IC-DISC) and Section 199 of the federal tax code. These provisions were created to encourage U.S. manufactured exports and address the trade deficit. The savings provides growers the opportunity to reinvest funds back into their businesses and is a major driver for agribusiness dependent communities.

Two weeks ago, without warning, the U.S. Senate proposal eliminated both sections, while the U.S. House of Representatives version retained the IC-DISC. The Almond Alliance jumped into action and worked overtime to directly lobby our congressional reps, through meetings with staff locally and in D.C., coalition building with specialty crops across the country, and forcing legislators’ attention by way of the media:

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article187384428.html

http://www.bakersfield.com/opinion/community-voices/community-voices-thousands-of-existing-central-valley-jobs-threatened-by/article_98d59aac-d617-11e7-ad0e-17a3e0865a50.html

http://gvwire.com/2017/11/30/trump-tax-cuts-will-crush-california-almond-industry/

http://www.abc10.com/news/local/californians-almond-growers-veterans-who-could-get-hurt-in-gop-tax-bill/495990454

http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article187658268.html

Our aggressive advocacy landed a major success- late Saturday night the Senate adopted an amendment to save IC-DISC. The next step is for the Senate and House to conference to reconcile the other differences in their versions. While we remain hopeful that a favorable deal will be reached, we are vigilant in our advocacy to protect our interests, continue to push for Section 199 and ensure that IC-DISC doesn’t become a bargaining chip lost in a larger political trade.

Take action with two steps:

First, call your congressional representative and voice your support for IC-DISC and Section 199 https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative.

Secondly, donate to the Almond Alliance PAC https://almondalliance.org/goverment-affairs/almond-pac/how-to-donate/ to support the critical work we do to protect our industry from back door deals.

Contact Andrea York, Manager of Government Relations, for further information ayork@almondalliance.org

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