Editor’s Note: How do you growers feel about the increased assessment? Do you think it’s justified?
The USDA published the final rule On Dec. 20 to implement the recommendation by Almond Board of California (ABC) to increase the assessment from 3 cents per pound to 4 cents per pound for a three-year period beginning with the current 2016–17 almond crop.
The decision means ABC can move forward with aggressive plans to broaden its sustainability and production research and launch new global marketing programs.
California’s 2016 almond production is forecast at 2.05 billion meat pounds, up 7.9% from last year’s crop. The increased assessment equates to $20.5 million, from $61.5 million to $82 million.
The increase is limited to three years because it is expected almond production will increase significantly during that time, after which the assessment rate will return to the 3-cents-per-pound rate.
“The idea is to give us a shot in the arm with some additional funding,” said Richard Waycott, President and CEO of ABC. “We need to invest now by keeping demand ahead of supply.”
There are three principal reasons why ABC determined that an assessment increase was needed:
- 25% increase in production anticipated by 2020. This estimated 500-million-pound increase needs to be addressed now in order to invest in increasing global demand prior to the production hitting the market. This will require doing more of what has been working to market California almonds, as well as implementing new, innovative marketing programs.
- Strain on agricultural resources has never been higher. Almonds are currently California’s highest-value agricultural crop, and soon they will be its largest acreage crop, putting the industry in a leadership role. With this leadership comes responsibility. Additional investment will allow ABC to take a leadership role by investing in and accelerating research that will address concerns such as: (a) the changing water supply, (b) air quality issues, as they relate to harvesting and pesticide and energy use; and (c) bee health, which is critical to the almond industry’s success.
- Transformation of the consumer landscape. The environment in which we are growing and marketing almonds is quickly changing. Consumers are more interested in where and how their food is grown and processed. In response, the almond industry needs to take a leading role in the world of sustainable farming, just as it has done for so long in the world of nutrition.
To plan for and address these challenges, ABC’s Board of Directors has worked across the Environmental, Production Research, Almond Quality and Food Safety, Technical and Regulatory Affairs, and Global Market Development Committees to develop a plan of action. This plan includes investment in research through the Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM) program and global marketing.
The AIM program is designed to expand and accelerate sustainability and production research in nine areas:
- Irrigation and nutrients
- Orchard, tree, and rootstock
- Almond biomass, co-products, energy
- Soil health management
- Pest management
- Food safety leadership
The global marketing effort expands ABC’s programs to address production growth and changing consumer needs by:
- Accelerating programs and their results in current markets;
- Considering additional markets for development;
- Increasing communication transparency and trust; and
- Ensuring confidence in ABC’s sustainability efforts.
Members of ABC’s Board of Directors are available to discuss the assessment increase, especially as it relates to supporting the AIM program and global marketing efforts. Send an email to [email protected] or call the ABC office at 209-549-8262.