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New Almond Leadership Program Kicks Off This Month

The 2014 Almond Leadership Program will be starting up with an initial orientation meeting at the end of this month. The Almond Board is pleased to welcome these fourteen new participants as the class of 2014: Sejal Patel — Project manager at Renewable Group Ted Kingsley — Grower rep for Chico Nut Nicholas Chase — Beekeeper with AgPollen LLC Scott Grossman — Assistant controller with P-R Farms Lacey Mount — Doctor of Plant Medicine for Dellavalle Laboratory Leo Munoz — Ag financing at Bank of America Jacob Barnett — Technology programs for Helena Chemical Company Matthew Roca — Sales manager at Summit Almonds Keith Kwan — Almond property owner/grower Kristen Colwell — Marketing liaison for Hughson Nut Morgan Woolf — Farming operations with Harris Woolf Chris Gallo — Precision ag specialist for Simplot Grower Solutions Ryan Arceo —Trader with Agri Nut Company Miguel Angel — Ranch manager for Naraghi Farms During their time in the Almond Leadership Program, participants will gain a well-rounded knowledge of the California Almond industry. This will be achieved through seminars centered on food safety, marketing, nutrition, production and environmental research, and many more. The program will culminate with participants presenting special projects that they’ve worked on throughout the year. Congratulations on being selected for the Almond Leadership Program, class of 2014 participants!
Newsletter
Jan 15, 2014 // About the Almond Industry

Nitrogen Fertilizer Application Reporting Requirement Delayed

The new requirement for reporting nitrogen fertilizer applications to cropland has been delayed one year, a result of developments stemming from a report to the legislature about nitrate contamination in groundwater, the Coalition for Urban/Rural Environmental Stewardship (CURES) reports in its current newsletter. The East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition had its first nitrogen reports due on March 1, 2014. That deadline has been extended to March 1, 2015, a date approved at the Oct. 3 meeting of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The extension was prompted by California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the State Water Board pulling together expert panels on how best to monitor for and assess the impact of nitrate from ag nitrogen uses, which might impact what growers will need to do as part of the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program requirements. The panels were formed based on recommendations contained in what is being called the “Harter Report,” a University of California study sponsored by the State Water Board. The report resulted in recommendations to the legislature on steps to address increasing nitrate levels in groundwater in the San Joaquin and Salinas Valleys. Two of 15 recommendations in the report focus on agricultural uses of nitrogen fertilizers. The first charged the California Department of Food and Agriculture to create a “Task Force” to develop a nitrogen “tracking and reporting system” for high-risk agricultural areas of the state, and to determine appropriate nitrogen mass balance approaches for the same areas. The second recommendation charged the State Water Board to convene an “Expert Panel” to advise the state on several technical issues including identifying methodologies for determining nitrate movement into groundwater. The CDFA Nitrogen Tracking and Reporting Task Force held four day-long meetings in August and September and released its report of recommendations on Dec. 6, 2013. The report can be downloaded here. The 30-member Task Force was made up of several coalition managers, representatives from the Central Valley and Central Coast Regional Water Boards, the University of California, the environmental justice community and agricultural trade organizations, among others. The State Water Board has yet to convene its Expert Panel.
Newsletter
Jan 15, 2014 // Orchard Management

Easier Than Ever to Be in Sustainability Program

With the new year comes a brand-new season for the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP)! Participating is now easier than ever with the new sustainability website, www.sustainablealmondgrowing.org. If you’re new to the program, you can start fresh and complete a self-assessment of one or more of your orchards in any or all of the module options of Irrigation Management, Air Quality, Pest Management, Energy Efficiency or Nutrient Management. Self-assessments are simply a series of yes/no questions about your current growing practices. Growers can complete assessments using information off the tops of their heads most of the time, and it takes anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes to complete a module. Once you complete a module for one block or orchard, there is a cloning tool online to copy your answers to different, but similarly managed, orchards. If you’ve participated in a physical workshop in the past and have completed a self-assessment, contact Kendall Barton by email or by phone at (209) 343-3245 to receive your username and password. All of your information is already in the system! You just need to access it and clone your assessments to the current year or add new orchards or modules in just minutes in your office or at home. The California Almond Sustainability Program is meant to help tell the story of good environmental stewardship of California Almond growers for audiences such as regulators, buyers and consumers. The way we can tell a good story on behalf of growers is through growers voluntarily filling out these assessments and answering questions like “Was the annual amount of water used monitored and tracked to manage water use efficiency?” about their growing operations. These statistics help give the Almond Board proof to back up a good story of stewardship. If you have any questions, would like to learn more, or want to get involved with CASP and tell your story, please contact Kendall Barton. For those growers interested in learning more about the California Almond Sustainability Program or who would prefer to fill out paper assessments, a physical workshop will be held at the Almond Board of California on Friday, Jan. 31, from 10:00 am to noon. We’ll take a little time to go over the program, fill out a couple of modules, and then end with a great lunch before we send you back to the ranch! If you’d like to attend the January workshop or have any questions about the online system or CASP in general, contact Kendall Barton.
Newsletter
Jan 15, 2014 // About the Almond Industry

Nitrate Study Impact Being Felt with Proposed State Legislation

The impact of the landmark UC Davis study on nitrate in drinking water, released in March 2012, is being felt throughout California agriculture as state legislators debate legislation addressing safe drinking water issues raised in the report. Gail Delihant, director of government affairs for the Western Growers Association, told those attending The Almond Conference session on rules and regulations that two key pieces of legislation are of particular interest to almond growers. Assembly Bill 69, by Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno), would impose a 1% tax on all fertilizer sales, with the authority to increase the tax up to 4%, based on certain conditions, beginning in 2016. The measure is designed to help reduce the presence of nitrates in drinking water and to provide a funding source for safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities. The measure was introduced in the last session and is currently at the Senate Agriculture Committee awaiting further action by the legislature. Assembly Bill 145, also by Assemblyman Perea, would move responsibility for safe drinking water away from the California Department of Public Health and over to the State Water Resources Control Board. “The governor is very supportive of this bill,” said Delihant. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) has indicated that she would like to achieve consensus with the agricultural community before moving the bill out of her committee. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) on Dec. 6 released its final report from a Nitrogen Tracking and Reporting Task Force that was asked to identify an appropriate nitrogen tracking and reporting system. The task force included stakeholders from agricultural organizations, academia, regulating agencies and the environmental advocacy community. The task force’s recommendations will now be presented to a panel of experts convened by the State Water Board, in coordination with the CDFA. The panel will assess existing agricultural nitrate control programs and may propose new measures for consideration by the regional water boards. Looking at future issues, Delihant pointed to the Central Coast Groundwater Coalition, which has initiated a program involving testing of wells. “You can anticipate that program coming to the Central Valley,” she said. Such a program could involve notifying landowners when their well water exceeds safe drinking water standards, with a requirement that alternative water be provided for those affected. Other potential legislation could include a bill that requires everyone to test their drinking water well and upload that data to a state website, and a measure that would require the reporting of well elevation levels.
Newsletter
Jan 09, 2014 // Government Affairs
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