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Marketing Order Ballots to Be Mailed Soon
It’s been five years since growers overwhelmingly voted in favor of continuing the Federal Marketing Order for California Almonds, and growers will vote again in a continuance referendum that will take place from Feb. 18 through Mar. 7. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will mail ballots and voting instructions to all growers of record — these are growers who have produced almonds in California from Aug. 1, 2012 through July 31, 2013. Eligible growers who do not receive a ballot may contact Maria Stobbe by mail at USDA, AMS, 2202 Monterey St., Suite 102B, Fresno, CA 93721; by email at Maria.Stobbe@ams.usda.gov; by phone at (559) 487-5901 or by fax at (559) 487-5906.
Executive Orders Watched for Almond Industry Benefits
In the first 100 days of President Trump’s administration, he has signed 33 Executive Orders and 27 Presidential Memoranda. Both have the same legal weight, but have different processes for issuance. Many of these documents will have no impact on the California Almond industry. However, some will and some have already. One of the first Presidential Memoranda released was the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership, an agreement supported by many agricultural commodities. The Executive Orders (EO) have covered many areas, but a few that we are watching include the recent EO creating an interagency task force led by our new Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes to promote economic development, job growth, infrastructure improvements, technological innovation, energy security and quality of life in rural America. It’s a big task, and it will be interesting to see the recommendations submitted. A similar EO was signed enlisting several cabinet members to review existing trade agreements to identify violations or abuses; unfair treatment by partners that is harming American workers; and where agreements have failed to create jobs, result in favorable trade balance, expand markets, lower trade barriers or increase U.S. exports; and then to provide lawful and appropriate actions to remedy or correct these deficiencies. Trade agreements provide different benefits, depending on the sector. For example, ag crops like almonds may be impacted by phytosanitary requirements, but that might not be relevant for the manufacturing sector or intellectual property. Almond growers benefit from expanded access to export markets, which brings jobs to the Central Valley and creates stable demand for increased almond production. Clearly, it will be important to monitor these discussions and how they may impact the almond industry.
Vice President Global Technical, Regulatory & Government Affairs
Julie Adams is Vice President, Global Technical, Regulatory & Government Affairs of the Almond Board of California. Ms. Adams joined the Board in 2000. Her responsibilities include monitoring and developing strategies to address international trade and technical issues such as food safety, market access, Codex standards, phytosanitary requirements, regulatory changes and other areas which impact on worldwide shipments of California almonds. She oversees the Almond Board’s industry services activities, including industry relations, food safety and environmental programs. Most recently, Ms. Adams has been responsible for coordinating consultations with USDA and European authorities related to import controls and certification programs. She has chaired the Nut Processors Working Group of the European Snacks Association for a number of years. Also, as vice chair of the International Tree Nut Council’s (INC) Scientific Committee, Ms. Adams participates in several international bodies such as Codex Alimentarius. Prior to joining the Board, Ms. Adams spent over 15 years with the American Peanut Council, based in Washington, DC and London. She was responsible for monitoring aflatoxin legislation and technical issues, and for the development of the industry’s pre-export certification program.
EPA Proposes New Worker Protection Standards
The U.S. EPA announced in February proposed revisions to its Worker Protection Standards that would include, among other proposals, additional signage and training requirements and “no-entry” buffer zones around pesticide-treated fields.
FSMA Files: Anatomy of FSMA - How Each Rule Applies to Almonds
Get your FSMA Facts straight from the experts. Almond Board of California has engaged a consulting firm whose lawyers have worked with FSMA since its beginning. In this month’s FSMA Files column they answer your questions about which FSMA rules the almond industry needs to address. Question: We often see the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules referenced in isolation, and it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture. Can you name each of the FSMA rules and explain how it applies to the almond industry? There are 7 FSMA rules, but only 6 that the almond industry potentially needs to address, based on business structure and operations. They are as follows: Produce Safety: Establishes federal food safety regulations for farms covering: agricultural water; biological soil amendments; worker hygiene and training; buildings, tools and equipment; growing, harvesting, packing and holding; and management of domesticated and wild animals. Applies to almond growers, as well as huller/shellers and brownskin almond handlers that meet the primary or secondary farm definition. Next Compliance Deadline: Jan. 26, 2018 for large farms. Two options exist for complying with the Produce Safety Rule. You can utilize the Produce Safety Rule exemption for commercial processing, or comply with all applicable Produce Safety Rule requirements. Learn about both options in the FSMA Fact Sheets below: Is My Operation a "Farm" Covered by the Produce Safety Rule? What Do Farms Need to Do to Comply with FSMA? What Training Requirements Does FSMA Have? Preventive Controls for Human Food: Requires facilities to conduct a hazard analysis and implement a food safety plan, with additional requirements existing around supply chain controls and employee training. Applies to almond handlers and huller/shellers not meeting the primary or secondary farm definition or that are farm mixed type facilities, as well as custom processors and others engaged in manufacturing/processing. Next Compliance Deadline: Sept. 18, 2017 for midsize businesses. FSMA Fact Sheets: What Do "Facilities" Need to Do to Comply with the FSMA Preventative Controls Rule? What Do I need to Do to Comply with Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) Regulations? What Training Requirements Does FSMA Have? Preventive Controls for Animal Food: Is similar to the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule and establishes requirements for animal food that are relevant under two conditions: 1) If you are a facility that manufactures feed for animals or 2) If you’re a facility that sends human food byproducts (e.g. hulls/shells) for use as animal feed. Applies to facilities such as non-farm almond handlers and non-farm huller/shellers. Next Compliance Deadline: Sept. 18, 2017 for midsize businesses. FSMA Fact Sheet: What do I Need to Do if I Send Human Food By-Products for Use as Animal Food? Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: Reflects longstanding industry best practices for food transportation and establishes requirements for vehicles and transportation equipment, records, training and waivers. This rule applies to anyone that is transporting food that is not a farm. You are exempt from this rule if the food is fully enclosed in a container and does not require temperature control for safety. Next Compliance Deadline: Apr. 6, 2018 for midsize businesses FSMA Fact Sheet: What do I Need to Do to Comply with the Sanitary Food Transportation Rule? Intentional Adulteration: Outlines risk-reducing strategies to prevent intentional adulteration from acts intended to cause wide-scale public health harm and requires, for the first time, a food defense plan. Applies to facilities including non-farm almond handlers and non-farm huller/shellers. Next Compliance Deadline: July 26, 2019 for large businesses. Foreign Supplier Verification Program: Requires importers to verify that their foreign suppliers have adequate programs in place to ensure the food coming into the U.S. meets food safety standards comparable to those in the U.S. Applies to almond handlers that import ingredients directly from a foreign supplier (you are exempt from this rule if you purchase ingredients from a U.S. supplier). Compliance Deadline: Began May 20, 2017 for all businesses. FSMA Fact Sheet: How do I Comply with Supplier Verification Requirements? Accredited Third-Party Certification: Establishes a voluntary program for the accreditation of third-party certification bodies/auditors to conduct food safety audits and issue certifications outside the U.S. It would only apply in two situations, neither of which affect the U.S. almond industry: 1) if you’re trying to be part of FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program or 2) if you’re importing food from a country for which FDA requires certification as a condition of import. New resources to help the almond industry get up-to-speed on FSMA are now available on the grower and processor webpages. Please keep your questions coming! You can send them to Tim Birmingham at email@example.com with the subject line “FSMA Files.” ABC utilized input from Elizabeth Fawell and Maile Hermida, lawyers with Hogan Lovells US LLP in Washington, DC. in the preparation of this column. The FSMA Files column is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Irrigation Strategies, Pest Management Highlighted on Tour for Regulators
Nearly 40 state, federal and local regulators learned of the challenges and trade-offs this extreme water-short year are forcing upon almond growers such as Newman grower/processor Stewart & Jasper Orchards, host of the Almond Board of California’s Environmental Committee’s 10th annual Stewardship Tour. Growers Jim and son Jason Jasper, farm manager Ray Henriques and the company’s independent agronomist and PCA Wes Asai explained some of the technologies and strategies Stewart & Jasper uses as part of its sustainable farming operation. “We have adopted sustainability in all facets of our operation,” Jim Jasper said. In the orchard, for instance, trapping and monitoring determine the timing of pest management sprays, and reduced-risk formulations of pesticides are used, even though they are often more expensive and less efficacious. “We are making sacrifices going with lower-VOC formulation pesticides but it's better for the environment and we know eventually everything is going that way,” Asai added. Regulators were particularly interested in Stewart & Jasper’s irrigation strategies, given the severe curtailment to the growers’ surface water deliveries this year and lack of acceptable-quality groundwater. Jasper acknowledged that the drought is forcing tough decisions upon their typical farming practices. The natural beneficial insectary created by Stewart & Jasper’s usual cover crop in row middles, for instance, has been mowed to preserve every precious drop of water for almond crops this year and to protect yields in future years as well. Stewart & Jasper will likely apply only half the optimal water this year to its orchard. Henriques explained that Stewart & Jasper will continue to rely on monitoring technologies and ET to schedule irrigations but reduce the amount of water applied with each irrigation in proportion to reduced water supplies. Regulators attended from several agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Department of Pesticide Regulation and state and regional air and water boards. Department of Pesticide Regulation environmental scientist Ann Schaffner said the tour offered a good opportunity to see an almond farming operation firsthand. ”It is really helpful to get a sense of the challenges that the growers face,” Schaffner said. “It’s enlightening to see some of the many innovative things they are doing.” Stewart & Jasper is a third-generation farming operation founded in 1948, which today has grown to include 2,000 acres of tree crops and a vertically integrated operation that hulls, shells and processes for another 150 growers in the nearby area.
On the Air with Almond Board of California
Staying current on the latest California Almonds news and tips is easy with the Almond Update every Thursday on AgNet/West, sponsored by the Almond Board of California. Tune in to your local AgNet/West station each week, look for the Almond Update logo on the AgNet/West website or search under specialty crop news to learn more about the latest in the almond industry. Last week, University of California farm advisor for San Joaquin county, Brent Holtz, covered common post-bloom disease issues facing California Almond growers. You can listen to the full interview here. On March 6, Almond Board of California North America regional director Molly Spence shared her experience working with popular daytime host Ellen Degeneres, who showed her support for California Almonds in a recent program. You can listen to the interview here.
Tomorrow’s Leaders Address Today’s Challenges
The Almond Board of California Leadership Program is a one-year training that offers opportunities for professional and personal growth for young leaders in the industry. After completing the program, graduates are ready to shape the future as leaders in the California Almond industry. As part of their experience in the Almond Leadership Program, each participant develops a special project and prepares a poster to be presented at The Almond Conference. The following participants will be at their posters (Poster Session area) on Thursday, Dec. 11, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Be sure to stop by to hear their presentation! Ryan Arceo — Challenges in the China Market Matt Rocha — Does California Have Enough Resources (Land/Water) to Meet the Growing Demand of Almonds? Kristen Colwell — The Beginner's Guide to Growing Almonds Chris Gallo — Using Remote Sensing to Measure Canopy Growth, Track Progress and Predict Yield Scott Grossman and Leo Munoz — How Almond Exports Are Affected by the Strength of the U.S. Dollar Ted Kingsley — Facts vs. Fiction: An Insight into Our Industry Keith Kwan — Market Opportunities for Almonds in Thailand: Considerations and Challenges Migual Lizaraga — Customer Traceability of Almond Products Lacey Mount — Understanding Today's Certified Crop Adviser Sejal Patel — Drought Life: Impact on California's Agricultural Industry Jacob Barnett — 2014 Ag Census Marketing Report
New Websites for Growers and Processors Make Their Debut
In mid-August, the Almond Board of California (ABC) launched new websites for California Almond growers at www.Almonds.com/Growers and processors at www.Almonds.com/Processors. Five years after the last industry website redesign, it became clear that a face-lift was needed to improve the user experience for all. The new websites are designed to: Be the ‘hub’ of all digital information Engage with industry members on a deeper level Make content easy to find and share Feature updated, timely content that is accessible from all digital platforms Be mobile-friendly Your feedback on the new websites is welcome. Please send your comments to Jenny Nicolau.
The 2014 Almond Almanac Evolves Format
In early December, the Almond Almanac was unveiled at The 2014 Almond Conference in Sacramento. The Almond Almanac is Almond Board of California’s annual report prepared on a crop-year basis, and includes comprehensive historical information about almond production, acreage and varieties, as well as shipment and market information. The Almond Almanac was originally designed to fit in a glove box, so it could be easily referenced. As the world has become more digital, the Almanac has taken a major shift to tell stories in a visual way and features shareable digital infographics. In the research section on pages 28-31, “The Facts About Water + Almonds” and the “The Pollination Partnership” present digestible bites of information to increase understanding on two of the hottest industry topics. Both infographics are also featured on the Almond Board blog. If you only have time to read one section, “What a Difference a Year Makes” on pages four and five reviews the significant milestones and record-breaking achievements from the past year. As the 2014 Almond Almanac shows, the progress made this past year demonstrates how effective the industry can be when forces join and move toward a common goal. Please email Alex Francis to obtain a hard copy, or download the Almond Almanac from the Almond Board website.