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MFP Deadline Fast Approaching
In July, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details for the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) package to assist farmers in response to trade damage from retaliatory tariffs. The 2019 program is different in several ways than the 2018 program, including an exemption from the $900,000 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitation if 75% of one’s income is derived from farming as well as a payment method based on bearing acres instead of pounds. Now, with the program deadline quickly approaching, almond growers even slightly interested in receiving MFP funds need to act fast to be considered to receive funding – all it takes is a phone call. According to USDA State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Connie Conway, growers need to contact their local FSA office before 4:30 p.m. PT on Friday, December 6, to make an appointment and be placed on FSA’s running list of interested applicants. As long as they make that phone call, or visit their local FSA office to schedule an appointment in person, by 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 they will be recognized by FSA as having interest in the program and will receive a call from FSA after Dec. 6 to arrange a time to meet and further discuss the application process. If growers meet this deadline, they may be eligible to receive funds through both the 2018 program and the 2019 program, provided program eligibility requirements are met. Conway pointed out the strong financial incentive for growers to apply. In 2018, MFP payments were based on 3 cents per pound of almonds produced. In a typical orchard with an average yield of 2,200 pounds per acre, that works out to about $66 per acre. This year – when China escalated the tariffs – USDA revised the payment formula to offer growers $146 per acre. That means for a grower with 80 acres of almonds, MFP funds are worth roughly $5,280 through the 2018 program and $11,680 through the 2019 program. “Though 2019 MFP funds were announced back in July, we are still receiving applications daily from specialty crop growers because of the different payment method and ultimately greater funds provided to producers,” said Conway. “Overall, we’re seeing more interest in MFP this year than in 2018, and growers feel like applying for the program is well worth their time.” Growers who applied for MFP in 2018 and now want to apply for 2019 funds can look forward to a much simpler application process. Because their information is already in FSA’s system – they already have a farm number with FSA and comply with the provisions of the “Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation” regulations – all they need to do is fill out an application, provide their AGI and certify their acres. Still, those growers must also abide by the Friday, Dec. 6 deadline, so at the bare minimum they must contact their local FSA office to set up a meeting to walk through the application process by that date. If you’re interested in apply for MFP, please contact your local FSA office (a list offices in the growing region may be found on page four). More information about the Market Facilitation Program may be found at Almonds.com/Growers, including a list of FAQs, and growers with additional questions may contact Julie Adams, ABC’s VP of Global Technical and Regulatory Affairs, at email@example.com.
Make a Difference — Get Involved in the Almond Board
Why should you run for the Almond Board of California (ABC) Board of Directors or serve on a committee? There are several key reasons why you — and the industry — would benefit: Your voice has power. If you care about the future of the California Almond industry, let your voice be heard. ABC’s Board of Directors and committees are member-driven and represent the California Almond industry. Diversity of participants strengthens the California Almond community. Diversity brings about real, long-lasting change, resulting from decisions guided by the diverse members of an organization. Your unique perspective and contributions to ABC’s Board of Directors or committees are instrumental in making the California Almond industry smart, strong and self-sustaining. Your voice will influence change in the world. Help make the California Almond a Crop of Choice and the Nut of Choice around the world. Being on ABC’s Board of Directors or on a committee will bring you a wealth of information, plus networking opportunities and professional experience. Petitions and letters of interest to become a member of the Board are to be filed with the Almond Board of California on or before Jan. 20, 2014. Be sure to keep your eye out for committee applications to become available in May or June. For more information, please call Sue Olson at (209) 343-3224.
Deadline Approaching: Three Reasons to Join the Board of Directors
Basic duties of the Almond Board of California (ABC) involve a handful of meetings a year and exchanges via phone and email. And for many Board members, it provides just the right amount of activity to feel involved and relevant, deepen friendships and broaden networks. But perhaps the top reasons are: Influence the strategic direction of the Almond Board. Opportunity to give back by sharing expertise. Enrich your life by being a leader in the industry you love. Jan. 20, 2017, is the deadline for filing nomination petitions for one independent grower member position and one independent grower alternate position on the Board of Directors for ABC. Each candidate must be a grower and must submit a petition signed by at least 15 independent growers of almonds (verified by Almond Board) in order to be considered. The petition must state the position for which the candidate is nominated, and must be filed with Almond Board of California, 1150 9th Street, Suite 1500, Modesto, CA 95354. Additionally, two independent handler member positions and two independent handler alternate positions are available. Handlers must declare their candidacy, in writing, to Almond Board no later than Jan. 20, 2017, in order for their name to be placed on the ballot for these positions. A cooperative grower member and alternate nominee, as well as a cooperative handler member and alternate nominee, will be selected through their respective cooperative associations. For further information, call Sue Olson, associate director, Marketing Order Services, at (209) 343-3224.
"Jane" Stays Healthy with Tips from Life Squad
The North American female target audience for California Almonds, known as “Jane” by the Almond Board’s Marketing Department, is a 35-year-old woman who values healthy eating and staying in shape, but can find it challenging to address both when time is short. Fortunately, Jane is finding help from a crew of healthy-lifestyle-focused spokespeople known as the California Almonds Life Squad. Led by actress, author, host of NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” and busy mom Alison Sweeney, the Life Squad team includes Seamus Mullen, award-winning chef, restaurateur and cookbook author; Keri Gans, registered dietitian and nutritionist; Ashley Borden, celebrity personal trainer and fitness expert; and Joy McCarthy, Canadian holistic nutritionist. At key times of the year — pre-holidays, the New Year and springtime — the Almond Board’s Life Squad has been reaching Jane in traditional and social media with fun, easy and actionable ways to eat better and get active, with almonds included as a key part of it all. “We knew Alison Sweeney would appeal perfectly to Jane, as she’s aspirational yet relatable, and she’s really busy but able to find easy ways to fit in nutritious foods and fitness,” says Molly Spence, regional director of North America, Almond Board of California. “For optimum media exposure, we’ve been fortunate to catch Alison at a great time in her career, as well as add a variety of additional expert spokespeople who add depth to the story and appeal to different types of reporters, all while keeping almonds prominent.” To date, the campaign has exceeded ABC’s expectations, accumulating more than 550 million impressions. Placements in numerous prominent Jane-targeted outlets have included stories in Good Housekeeping (online), Women’s Health (online), Huffington Post #NoFilter and a great segment on Fox and Friends, as well as prominent Canadian outlets such as Glow, Canadian Living and Hello! For more information about what the Life Squad has been recommending to Jane this spring, visit Almonds.com/LifeSquad. Its tips have also been issued regularly through ABC’s presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Reporting Sustainability — Mel Machado, Chair of Environmental Committee
The California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) is now entering its sixth year, and information gathered thus far confirms what many in our industry have been saying: Almond growers are excellent stewards of the resources needed to produce their crops.