Nov. 13, 2017-By Andrea York, Manager of Government Relations – – Almond Alliance President Kelly Covello recently provided attendees of the Pacific Nut Producer Expo with an update on the State of the Almond Industry. With a total of 1.3 million acres (bearing and non-bearing) and 2.25 billion pounds expected this crop year and an anticipated increase in production of 20% by 2020, the almond industry has never been more visible and more scrutinized by legislators and regulators.

In a recent article (Oct. 5, 2017), Peter Drekmeier who serves as Policy Director for the Tuolumne River Trust said, “The Legislature should adopt a fee on water used to grow export crops, and invest the revenue on water-efficient irrigation practices and groundwater recharge to make more water available for environmental purposes. Such investments would help us prepare for future droughts, improve the health of our rivers, and maintain a vibrant and sustainable agricultural economy. It’s simply not fair that crop exporters privatize the gains from using a public trust resource while socializing the losses.”

Negative rhetoric around the almond industry’s use of water and other resources continues and with increasing acreage this rhetoric will continue. But the Almond industry and the agricultural industry as whole can change the dynamics of our government, but it’s going to mean looking at politics as a cost of doing business. In 2016, the environmental industry paid out $98,033,139 in financial contributions related to political activity making them the top industry paying political contributions in the State of California. The internet industry rounded out the bottom of the top 10 with a total of $22,594,416.

Source: https://www.opensecrets.org/states/indus.php?state=CA&cycle=2016

Hypothetically speaking, what if every almond grower was willing to pay $20/acre and look at that expense as a cost of doing business to protect their almonds? This industry would raise $26,000,000 (1.3M acres X $20) and the almond industry could be in the top 10 politically engaged industries in the State. One might ask themselves – what’s more expensive, the fully implemented new minimum wage and ag overtime laws, or $20/acre for prevention?

If the entire agricultural community started thinking this way, raising $100 million dollars is a realistic goal.  In fact, the Environmental industry wasn’t on the top 10 list in 2012 and in a two-year window became the number one industry in 2014 with $78,063,049.

The Almond Alliance started an Almond PAC – – state PAC three years ago and federal PAC last year – –  and while they have been successful there is so much potential to do better. I would challenge you to increase your engagement and support the Almond PACs and/or the PACs for whatever organizations you are involved in. For more information on the Almond PACs and any questions you have, please contact Andrea York at ayork@almondalliance.org.