Almond Alliance Congratulates USDA Jenny Lester Moffitt on Her Confirmation as USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs

Aug. 11, 2021 Modesto, CA – – Almond Alliance of California President Elaine Trevino commented today on the confirmation by the United States Senate of Jenny Lester Moffitt as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Almond Alliance congratulates Jenny Lester Moffitt on her confirmation to serve as the next Under Secretary and wishes her the best in this new endeavor. We thank Jenny for all of her work and tenure as Under Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  We are incredibly pleased and excited that someone with Jenny’s experience and diverse knowledge of specialty crops is leading the marketing and regulatory programs for American agriculture.  We look forward to partnering with Jenny as we compete in the international market place and continue to feed almonds to Americans and the world.”

About the Almond Alliance

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community.

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Almond Alliance Calls Passage of Infrastructure Investment Bill a “Promising Start’

Aug. 10, 2021 Modesto, CA – – U.S. Senate passage Monday of a bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which addresses critical water supply needs in the West, is a “promising start to address the ongoing concerns the California almond community has about our state’s water supply,” said Elaine Trevino, President, Almond Alliance of California.

The act includes $8 billion to repair aging dams and canals, build new surface and groundwater storage, fund water conservation projects and improve ecosystems. This legislation will now be taken up in the House.

“We will reach out to members of the House to educate them about the critical need to invest in a reliable, affordable and sustainable water supply,” explained Trevino. “This is an unprecedented opportunity to make major investments in our water supply infrastructure in a way that will benefit our state for many years to come.”

The Alliance is part of a national coalition representing thousands of Western farmers, ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities supporting the Energy Infrastructure Act. The coalition includes more than 220 organizations from 15 states that collectively represent $120 billion in agricultural production—nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the country—and many of the local and regional public water agencies that supply water to more than 75 million urban, suburban and rural residents.

About the Almond Alliance 
The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community. 

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/  or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Congressional bill to address global shipping crisis wins backing from Almond Alliance of California

Aug. 10, 2021 Modesto – – Legislation introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-South Dakota) to address unreasonable ocean carrier practices has won the backing of the Almond Alliance of California.

“We thank Congressmen Garamendi and Johnson for their leadership on the port congestion issue and for introducing the Ocean Shipping Reform Act,” said Elaine Trevino, President, Almond Alliance. “The almond industry depends on reliable trade supply chains for exporting almonds worldwide and access to needed containers and shipping equipment.  We are hopeful that this legislation will help address the chaotic booking delays and cancellations and excessive detention and demurrage charges. We also thank AgTC for their tireless efforts working with a national coalition to resolve the port congestion issue.”

The Almond Alliance will stay actively engaged in this issue as the Ocean Shipping Reform Act is taken up by Congress.  “This is a critical issue for our members who export almonds overseas and have found the supply chain to be severely disrupted by these unreasonable costs and unfair practices,” explained Trevino.

Here are the bill’s highlights:

This bill addresses ocean container carrier practices injuring US exporters, importers, truckers and others. It particularly focuses on unreasonable detention and demurrage charges, and carrier rejection of US export cargo. It provides the means to achieve the mandates of the President’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.This bill covers containerized ocean transport between the US and foreign countries. The industry has consolidated, from over 20 major ocean carriers, to only 11 today, grouped into 3 Alliances, providing unprecedented market power, while massive volumes of imports from Asia are overwhelming the entire supply chain.

Ocean carriers are imposing demurrage and detention fees, cumulatively, hundreds of millions of dollars, when they deem exporters and importers are not picking up or returning containers sufficiently quickly. However, because often such delays are not the fault of the shipper, the Federal Maritime Commission determined many of these charges to be unreasonable, promulgated the ‘Interpretive Rule on Demurrage and Detention Under the Shipping Act’, prohibiting them; but which it has been unable to enforce, carriers continue to impose them, unfairly.

Meanwhile, global demand for US exports, primarily agriculture and forest products, remains strong, even with growing competition from other source countries. Currently, ocean carriers are declining to carry US export cargo to Asia, while taking containers back to Asia empty, in order to more quickly load US-bound Asian exports, which generate higher carrier freight rates/revenue. Today, the total number of containers leaving the US is at an all-time high, but the number of those containers loaded with export cargo is lower than at any time since 2015. This is causing US ag exporters to lose approximately 22% of export sales, as they cannot ship to foreign customers, affordably/dependably.

About the Almond Alliance 
The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community. 

 

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Almond Alliance Congratulates USDA Jenny Lester Moffitt on Her Confirmation as USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs

July 26, 2021 Modesto, CA – – Almond Alliance of California President Elaine Trevino commented today on the confirmation by the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry of Jenny Lester Moffitt as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Almond Alliance congratulates Jenny Lester Moffitt on her confirmation to serve as the next Under Secretary and wishes her the best in this new endeavor. We thank Jenny for all of her work and tenure as Under Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture.  We are incredibly pleased and excited that someone with Jenny’s experience and diverse knowledge of specialty crops is leading the marketing and regulatory programs for American agriculture.  We look forward to partnering with Jenny as we compete in the international market place and continue to feed almonds to Americans and the world.”

About the Almond Alliance

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community.

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Farmers’ input on state’s goal to conserve land and coastal waters sought at April and May virtual workshops

April 23, 2021 – -Gov. Newsom’s Executive Order to establish a state goal to conserve at least 30% of California’s land and coastal waters by 2030 will be the subject of several virtual workshops to be held in April and May.

The order calls for the launch of the California Biodiversity Collaborative and elevates the role of natural and working lands as a pillar of California’s climate change strategy. The workshops will look at how to combat biodiversity and climate change in California using nature-based solutions.

Farmers are encouraged to participate in the virtual sessions sponsored by the CA Natural Resources Agency. A complete listing of the workshops can be found at the Nature-Based Solutions webpage https://resources.ca.gov/Initiatives/Expanding-Nature-Based-Solutions

Almond Alliance Joins With Diverse Group of Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resource Organizations to Protect California’s Pollinators

April 7, 2021 – -– The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is joining with a broad array of organizations from across California’s agricultural and environmental landscape to form the California Pollinator Coalition to address a shared commitment to the health of pollinators. The Coalition is focusing on increasing the value working lands provide to our environment while benefitting biodiversity and farmers alike.

“It’s a simple fact that without honey bees, there would be no almonds. The Almond Alliance strongly supports this collaborative effort to increase habitat for pollinators on working lands,” said Alliance Chairman Mike Curry.

The Alliance is sponsoring AB 391 California Pollinator Conservation Funding, authored by Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua (D-Stockton). This bill will provide critically needed funding for activities that accelerate the adoption of conservation practices designed to integrate pollinator habitat and forage on working lands.   “California almond farmers know that every almond exists because a honey bee visited an almond blossom,” explained Curry. “Honey bees and other pollinators need a varied and nutritious diet. This bill will help growers implement those important conservation practices that benefit honey bees as they forage for pollen and nectar in the orchard. The Almond Alliance is proud to sponsor this bill and looks forward to working with its partners for the bill’s successful passage in the California legislature.”

Assemblymember Villapuda noted the importance of protecting pollinators. “Pollinators are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food,” he explained. “They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce. Working lands offer an opportunity to expand habitat and forage for pollinators which will help sequester carbon and contribute to climate risk reduction. To further engage growers in delivering solutions that benefit pollinators, state investment is critical for activities that accelerate the adoption of conservation practices that integrate pollinator habitat and forage on working lands.”

AB 391 will appropriate $5 million dollars to provide funding to a variety of agencies to deliver technical assistance, outreach and grants to incentivize participation in state and federal conservation programs where pollinator habitat and forage is established.

The California Pollinator Coalition, convened by Pollinator Partnership, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the Almond Board of California, includes more than twenty organizations – representing the large majority of California’s crop and range land – pledging to increase habitat for pollinators on working lands. Together, the goal is to increase collaboration between agriculture and conservation groups for the benefit of biodiversity and food production. The result will be on-the-ground improvements, technical guidance, funded research, documentation of relevant case studies, and tracked progress toward increasing healthier pollinator habitats.

Current California Pollinator Coalition membership includes:

  • Agricultural Council of California
  • Almond Alliance
  • Almond Board of California
  • California Alfalfa and Forage Association
  • California Association of Pest Control Advisers
  • California Association of Resource Conservation Districts
  • California Cattlemen’s Association
  • California Citrus Mutual
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture
  • California Farm Bureau Federation
  • California State Beekeepers Association
  • California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Monarch Joint Venture
  • Monarch Watch
  • Pollinator Partnership
  • Project Apis m.
  • University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service of California
  • Western Growers
  • Neal Williams, University of California, Davis

About the Almond Alliance

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC) is a trusted non-profit organization dedicated to advocating on behalf of the California almond community. California almonds generate more than $21 billion in economic revenue and directly contribute more than $11 billion to the state’s total economy. California’s top agricultural export, almonds create approximately 104,000 jobs statewide, over 97,000 in the Central Valley, which suffers from chronic unemployment. The AAC is dedicated to educating state legislators, policy makers and regulatory officials about the California almond community. As a membership-based organization, our members include almond processors, hullers/shellers, growers and allied businesses. Through workshops, newsletters, conferences, social media and personal meetings, AAC works to raise awareness, knowledge and provide a better understanding about the scope, size, value and sustainability of the California almond community.

For more information on the Almond Alliance, visit https://almondalliance.org/ or check out the Almond Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Almond Alliance Hails Congressional Efforts Expressing Concern Over Carriers Declining to Ship U.S. Ag Exports from U.S. Ports

March 12, 2021 – – The Almond Alliance is actively involved in efforts by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, a broad coalition of agricultural trade organizations, who are expressing deep concern over reports that certain vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) are declining to ship U.S. agricultural commodity exports from U.S. ports. VOCCs serve as an integral link between American producers and overseas customers, without which contracts cannot be met and the ability to compete in or even access foreign markets is threatened.

“The Alliance is participating in a national coalition working to educate our federal representatives on this critical issue,” said Alliance Chairman Mike Curry. “We are pleased to see that more than 100 Congressional representatives have signed on to a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission expressing grave concerns about this issue and urging the Commission to resolve this matter. The Alliance intends to vigorously pursue a positive resolution of this issue which is greatly impacting the California almond industry.” California produces about 80% of the world’s almonds and approximately 70 percent is exported. Almonds are California’s top agricultural export.

The coalition has acted on multiple fronts to enlist the support of federal legislators in calling upon the Maritime Commission for action.

Senators call on federal commission to back exporters  

Several United States Senators have sent a letter pushing the Federal Maritime Commission to protect the access of exporters to ocean carriers amid surging demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Maritime Commission ordered ocean carriers and marine terminal operators to provide information determining whether legal obligations related to detention and demurrage under the Shipping Act of 1984 are being met. The coalition was led by the Almond Alliance, AgTc, Sunkist, Tyson, Western Growers and National Grain and many other trade associations.

To view the letter, please click here.

Over 100 Congressional Representative send Letter to Maritime Commission

Over 100 Congressional representatives have shared their mounting concerns over reports that certain vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) are declining to ship U.S. agricultural commodity exports from US ports. While they expressed appreciation of the steps already taken by the Federal Maritime Commission to investigate these alarming reports, they further urged the Commission to resolve this matter. They called on the Commission to provide monthly updates to Congress until the matter is resolved.

To view the letter, please click here.

Over 70 agricultural trade organizations sent a letter to President Biden  

In an effort led by Agriculture Transportation Coalition, over 70 trade association sent a letter to President Biden expressing concern and frustration of the great commercial challenges of the actions of ocean container carriers, including declining to carry our export cargo, severely injuring US agriculture and preventing U.S. agriculture from delivering affordably and dependably to international markets.

To view the letter, please click here.

 

Information Demand on Detention & Demurrage Practices to Be Issued

Posted Commissioner Rebecca F. Dye will issue information demand orders to ocean carriers and marine terminal operators (MTOs) to determine if legal obligations related to detention and demurrage practices are being met.

The orders are being issued under the authority Commissioner Dye has as the Fact Finding Officer for Fact Finding 29, “International Ocean Transportation Supply Chain Engagement”.  Targets of the orders will be ocean carriers operating in an alliance and calling the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach, or the Port of New York & New Jersey.  Marine terminal operators at those ports will also be subject to information demands.

The demand orders will also require carriers and MTOs to provide information on their policies and practices related to container returns and container availability for exporters.

Failure of carriers and MTOs to operate in a way consistent with the Interpretive Rule on Detention and Demurrage that became effective on May 18, 2020, might constitute a violation of 46 USC 41102(c) which prohibits unjust and unreasonable practices and regulations related to, or connected with, receiving, handling, storing, or delivering property.

Information received from parties receiving demands may be used as a basis for hearings, Commission enforcement action or further rulemaking.

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Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans Outlined

Jan. 26, 2021- Source: Small Business Administration – – The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) now allows certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan with the same general loan terms as their First Draw PPP Loan. Second Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.

Full Forgiveness Terms

Second Draw PPP Loans made to eligible borrowers qualify for full loan forgiveness if during the 8- to 24-week covered period following loan disbursement:

  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained in the same manner as required for the First Draw PPP loan;
  • The loan proceeds are spent on payroll costs and other eligible expenses; and
  • At least 60 percent of the proceeds are spent on payroll

Targeted Eligibility

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
  • Has no more than 300 employees; and
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and

Maximum Loan Amount and Increased Assistance for Accommodation and Food Services Businesses

For most borrowers, the maximum loan amount of a Second Draw PPP Loan is 2.5x average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million. For borrowers in the Accommodation and Food Services sector (click HERE for NAICS 72 to confirm), the maximum loan amount for a Second Draw PPP Loan is 3.5x average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million.

How and When to Apply

Borrowers can apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan until March 31, 2021, through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, eligible non-bank lender, or Farm Credit System institution that is participating in PPP. All Second Draw PPP Loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower. A list of participating lenders as well as additional information and full terms can be found HERE.

Ensuring Access for All

SBA continues to call upon its lending partners, including Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), to redouble their efforts to assist eligible borrowers in underserved and disadvantaged communities. At least $25 billion is being set aside for Second Draw PPP Loans to eligible borrowers with a maximum of 10 employees or for loans of $250,000 or less to eligible borrowers in low- or moderate-income neighborhoods. To promote access for smaller lenders and their customers, SBA will initially only accept Second Draw PPP Loan applications from community financial institutions starting on January 13, 2021. The PPP will open to all participating lenders for Second Draw PPP Loans shortly thereafter.

Visit www.sba.gov or www.treasury.gov for more information and details, including the comprehensive program rules.