Stop the State Water Grab!

July 20, 2018 – -The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to demand twice as much water flow down the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers in a purported effort to save salmon is an attack on the California agricultural industry and threatens the economic well-being of the San Joaquin Valley. Water is the life blood of our economy and farmers have made significant investments in community infrastructure, such as recycled water projects, recharging aquifers, and adopting state of the art irrigation practices to conserve this valuable natural resource.  The Almond Alliance continues to fight to preserve the economic security of the Central Valley.

Join Almond Alliance and Assemblyman Adam Gray as we make our industry’s voice heard, at a rally on August 20th at 12:00 pm, at the north steps of the capitol. Click here for the flyer. If you would like to see the Almond Alliance press release on this issue please click here. 

FDA to Crackdown on Non-dairy Products Labeling

July 20, 2018 – -The Almond Alliance will be sending a letter immediately to the FDA Commissioner to express our concern that it appears the FDA has made a decision regarding the use of the term “milk” for non-dairy products without providing the almond industry with a voice in the FDA process. The Almond Alliance intends to counter the FDA and Trump Administration’s decision to crack down on the use of the term “milk” for non-dairy products.  FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said his agency will soon issue a guidance document outlining changes in so-called “standards of identify” policies for marketing milk. The almond industry will ,of course, participate in the FDA’s official process – but it doesn’t mean we won’t express our frustration and views that “we do not like it.”  There will be more to come pertaining to our discussions with FDA. Click here for the article.

Almond Alliance Joins Specialty Crop Tariff Mitigation Coalition

July 20, 2018 – – President’s Message by Elaine Trevino – -The Almond Alliance, along with multiple specialty crop organizations, continues to communicate directly with the Administration regarding the negative impacts of retaliatory tariffs being implemented by our trading partners. While we continue to support the Administration’s moves to address and resolve unfair trade practices, we are also not letting them miss the fact that almonds and other specialty crops are caught directly in the retaliatory tariff cross-fire between the United States and nations around the globe – where almonds now face significantly higher tariffs in multiple markets.  In China alone, the agricultural sector was hit with tariffs back in April and now faces applied tariff rates, as of July 6, that are 25% and go up to 70% on over 140 tariff lines. Dozens of tariff lines in other countries are also affected. In all these cases American fruits, vegetables and tree nuts are now priced significantly higher than our competitors in those markets.

We continue to carry the message that our preference is federal support for trade and market growth, but we also believe it is prudent for the California specialty crop industry to begin discussions with the Administration regarding the ways the USDA can mitigate the negative impacts of retaliatory tariffs. We will be continuing to advocate and educate the Administration on what is at risk for almonds from the short-term disruptions to trade with our commercial partners around the world to the longer-term risks to the considerable market development investments the almond industry has made over the past decades.

If you have any questions regarding the Almond Alliance’s efforts related to retaliatory tariffs, feel free to call me at 916-595-0219.  Thank you. Elaine

President’s Message to Membership on Tariffs and Almonds

By Elaine Trevino, President, Almond Alliance of California

July 17, 2018 – -The Almond Alliance has been very busy contacting the highest levels of USDA, the White House Administration and Congress to express the California almond industry’s deep concern about the damage that is occurring from the retaliatory tariffs by our trading partners.  We have requested that our Congressional representatives work together and with the Administration to develop and execute a strategic policy to effectively address the long-standing trade problems in China and other countries, but not at the expense of hard working US families and businesses.

We want to make sure that our elected officials and the Administration understand the threat to the almond industry and the businesses and jobs that rely on their existence.  We expressed that almonds are one of California’s top three valued commodities and the leading agriculture export.  We reminded the nation’s leaders of the following:

* That the industry is composed of approximately 6,800 almond growers, all located in the Central Valley of California.  According to the latest Ag Census, 91% of almond farms are family owned and 74% are less than 100 acres.  Most of these are family farmers who have farmed almonds for a number of generations.

* Some fear that the increased tariffs in China which now are set at 50% will trigger broader price erosion in other markets – for some, this could mean having to go out of business.

* This risk is significant given the California almond industry generates about 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, especially in areas that suffer from chronic unemployment. The industry also generates more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly creates more than $11 billion to the size of the state’s total economy.

* California produces approximately 80% of the world’s supply of almonds. Approximately 70% are exported to over 100 countries worldwide.

* In 2017, total exports to China, India and Turkey combined exceeded $1 billion dollars.  As a percent of production exported, almonds rank third among all agricultural crops.

Below is a summary of the various international markets where retaliatory tariffs are being imposed on California almonds.

* China:   China is the third largest export destination for California almonds, with an approximate 2017 value of shipments to the region of more than $500 million. The tariff rate in China was 10% prior to the 15% retaliatory tariff announced by China on April 2, in response to the US tariffs on steel and aluminum. Their June 15th announcement, in response to the US section 301 investigation, is for an additional 25% tariff effective July 6.  California almonds could be as much as 50% more expensive if all retaliatory tariffs remain in place.  Australia, through an FTA with China, will enjoy 0% tariffs in 2019.  Exports to China, prior to the additional tariff, were anticipated to continue growing at about 6% per year.  Year-to-date, our shipments to the region are up about 20% compared to last year.

* India:  India is the second largest export destination for California almonds, with a 2017 value of $658 million. California almonds are also the United States number one agricultural export to the market, with shipments up more than 20% over last year. The majority of exports to India are in-shell almonds, which effective August 4 will be subject to a specific duty of 42 rupees per kilogram, while the duty for almond kernels will increase to 120 rupees per kilogram. Australia, the other major supplier to India, will retain a specific duty of 35 and 100 rupees, respectively.  For centuries, almonds have been part of India’s cultural tradition and the new additional tariffs could effectively put them out of reach for many consumers in the market.

* Turkey:  Turkey has very recently increased its retaliatory tariff on nuts, including almonds, from the notified 5% to 10%.  Thus, the effective rate is now 25% (the original 15% applied duty in addition to a 10% retaliatory tariff). In this market, the value of in-shell and shelled almonds in 2017 was approximately $147 million.

For all the reasons outlined above, the retaliatory tariffs will have a damaging impact on the almond industry.

I would like to strongly state that we at the Almond Alliance continue to send the strong message that the California almond industry is focused on trade and market growth.  No mitigation recommendations will begin to offset the financial impacts, the disruptions to our relationships with commercial partners, or the longer-term effect this could have on the considerable market development investments the almond industry has made over the past decades.

Please watch for important member alerts and email announcements regarding tariff updates.

Thank you,

Elaine Trevino, President

Almond Alliance of California

Some Tips on Preparing for the 2018 Season

July 17, 2018 – -At the 2018 Almond Alliance Convention Stacy Henderson, Attorney at Law, presented our membership with essential labor law tools for the 2018 harvest. We encourage members to review the presentation and reach out to Almond Alliance if you require any further clarification.

Download Presentation Here

Also, view Stacy’s interview with with Pacific Nut Producer on Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Cal/OSHA visits. Whether these visits are warranted or come by surprise, farmers should be prepared for them.

Watch Interview Here

Legislature Heads Out on Summer Break, Addresses Several Issues in the Last Minute

July 17, 2018 – -On July 6 California legislators headed back to their districts for recess until August 6.  Prior to leaving the legislature addressed several key issues.  Below is a synopsis of some bills and issues addressed.

Initiatives on the November Ballot – June 28 was the deadline to remove initiatives from the November ballot.  Three initiatives qualified for removal – two because there were legislative deals and one on the promise of further legislative review.

* Privacy – the proponents of a consumer privacy initiative removed their initiative when legislation passed.

* Two Thirds vote for local taxes – The Business Roundtable sponsored legislation that would have created a 2/3 vote threshold for all local taxes.  The initiative was being funded by the American Beverage Association.  The initiative was removed when legislation creating a 12 year moratorium on local “grocery” taxes was passed by the legislature.

* Lead Paint Bond – The paint industry placed a $2 billion bond on the November ballot in an attempt to cost shift some of the expenses of complying with lead paint removal that was thrust upon them in a recent court case.  A deal never came together but the initiative was pulled with a vague promise from legislative leadership that they would continue negotiations.

Key legislation important to agriculture that was amended and/or heard over the past week includes:

AB 1165 (Caballero) would establish the Agricultural Growth Council (Council) under the Food and Agricultural Code, consisting of the Secretaries of Food and Agriculture, Natural Resources Agency, Environmental Protection; and the Directors of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board, Pesticide Regulation, and the Chair of the Air Resources Board; and three members of the public. The purpose of the Council is to ease regulatory requirements to aid grower compliance and reduce costs to the agricultural industry. AB 1165 is a resurrection of one portion of AB 2166, the California Farm bill, which was held on suspense in Appropriations.

According to the author the purpose behind the bill is to elevate the pressure on the agriculture industry facing regulations on water, energy, soil, air, labor, transportation, and more. Many of these regulations conflict, leaving business owners and operators in an untenable situation wherein the good faith effort to comply with one regulations puts the owner/operator out of compliance with another. AB 1165 should bring relief to agriculture businesses, and ensures that while good faith compliance must continue, monetary penalties and the cost of defending an enforcement action will be stayed until the regulatory conflict is resolved.

California legislators are attempting to establish a statewide pharmaceutical drug take back program. Under SB 212 (Jackson) all California manufacturers of drugs or sharps would be required to establish and implement a pharmaceutical and sharps waste collection program. Additionally, the bill would require retailers and other convenient entities to collect expired and no longer needed drugs, as well as sharps. The bill also covers veterinary medicine which includes all drugs used to prevent, treat or control disease in animals (livestock & pets) regardless of whether the drug is administered or prescribed by a veterinarian.   The livestock community is requesting amendments to eliminate animal husbandry drugs from the covered list including “drugs that are used for animal medicine, including parasiticide products for animals.”

Last week the following bills moved forward: AB 2610 (Aguiar-Curry) which provides truck drivers, who transport livestock nutrients and byproducts to rural and remote areas, the option to start their meal and rest period on their 6th hour of work is on the Senate floor. SB 668 (McGuire) which would authorize CDFA to increase fines for violations of the Commercial Feed Law and establishes a mechanism for CDFA to carry out administrative hearings on the issue, passed out of the Assembly Agriculture committee. AB 3036 (Cooley) which is in the Senate Appropriations committee, would reclassify byproducts from agriculture and food processing that are used in livestock feed so that it is not considered waste.

Energy Bill Promoting 100% Renewable Passes Committee

California State Senate passed a bill last week that puts the Golden State on the path to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity. Senate Bill 100 (De Leon) would accelerate California’s current mandate to achieve 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources from 2030 up to 2026; it would further establish that California will generate 60 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045.

The agricultural community coordinated with the CalChamber and many energy providers to oppose this aggressive legislation.  Concerns about costs of electricity, reliability and feasibility were anchored in industry testimony.

Proponents identified other states and jurisdictions that have already committed to a 100% renewable requirement.  Hawaii became the first state to commit to a 100 percent renewable electricity goal, to be achieved by 2045. Massachusetts also has a 100 percent renewables bill under consideration in the state legislature. San Diego became the largest U.S. city to commit to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.

Almond Alliance of California Blasts Water Grab by State Water Board

Devastating economic consequences seen from proposal to slash water sent down three rivers

July 10, 2018 – –Elaine Trevino, President, Almond Alliance of California, issued the following statement following the State Water Resources Control Board’s release Friday, July 6, 2018 of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan’s Supplemental Environmental Document (SED)

The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to demand twice as much water flow down the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers in a purported effort to save salmon is an attack on the California agricultural industry and threatens the economic well-being of the San Joaquin Valley. Water is the life blood of our economy and farmers have made significant investments in community infrastructure, such as recycled water projects, recharging aquifers, and adopting state of the art irrigation practices to conserve this valuable natural resource.  The Almond Alliance will continue to fight to preserve the economic security of the Central Valley.

State water board staff ignored testimony from a wide range of water experts about the fallacy of their final staff plan. This decision flies in the face of an overwhelming amount of science that the approach of putting more water down the river simply has no merit. The Board’s unimpaired flow strategy does nothing to address major stressors in the system, such as the loss of habitat for native species and predators who have gained a strong foothold on the Delta.

The Alliance formally commented at a public workshop in March 2017 pointing out the economic benefits of the almond industry and the potential economic consequences that could result from the water diversions. The farm-gate value of California almonds was $5.3 billion in the 2015-16 crop year. Through farming, manufacturing and associated industries, the California almond industry creates over 104,000 jobs throughout the state with 97,000 jobs in the Central Valley, an otherwise economically depressed region.

Simply put, this proposal by the state water board will not save salmon but it will have devastating consequences on not just almond growers but all San Joaquin Valley farmers and countless other workers who benefit from the ripple effect of its economic activity.

The final public comment period is now open until July 27, with final adoption scheduled for Aug. 21. The Almond Alliance will remain vigilant and tell our story in Sacramento about how California almond growers contribute greatly to this area’s economic health while continuing to exercise wise stewardship over our precious water resources.

About the Almond Alliance of California

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) was formerly the Almond Hullers and Processors Association and is a trusted non-profit organization with a mission of advocating on behalf of the Almond industry in California. AAC actively advocates for the positions of almond growers, hullers, shellers, handers and processors, while educating the industry about upcoming and existing regulatory changes.  Through workshops, newsletters, conferences and meetings, AAC serves as a clearing house of information that informs the almond industry and continues to position the industry as an agricultural leader in the state.