In an effort to keep global
almond demand in front of a growing supply the Almond Board of California (ABC)
is looking to boost the assessment it charges growers by a penny.
The increase from 3 cents to 4
cents per pound could happen with this year’s harvest if the U.S. Department of
Agriculture approves the unanimous request by ABC directors at their April
The request has a three-year
sunset, meaning the assessment would return to 3 cents per pound with the
At the current subjective
production estimate of 2 billion pounds, the extra penny would generate an
additional $20 million for next year’s ABC budget.
“We need to invest now by keeping
demand ahead of supply,” Waycott said.
Waycott cited three basic reasons
the board voted to boost the assessment 33 percent.
The ABC expects almond production
to grow 30 percent, or about 600 million pounds, by 2020. Waycott says this
needs to be addressed now with world markets by working to increase demand
ahead of the projected supply. The Almond Board hopes to do this through
existing programs and by implementing new, innovative marketing plans.
“The idea is to give us a shot in
the arm with some additional funding,” Waycott continued.
Waycott also talks about the
almond industry’s leadership role as California’s highest-valued agricultural
crop and soon the largest crop by total acreage.
California almond production
continues to grow because of additional plantings and the increase in bearing
acres. The latest USDA figure puts bearing acreage at 900,000 on total
plantings that are approximately 200,000 acres more than that.
The third reason Waycott says the
temporary assessment boost is needed is to address a transforming consumer
The Almond Board continues to
state that consumers are more interested in how and where their food is grown
and processed, and as a result the ABC if taking a leading role in the world of
To achieve this, Waycott says the
ABC board is working to define “the almond orchard of the future.” This
includes spending additional money on research through the organization’s
Accelerated Innovation Management (AIM) program and global marketing.
The AIM program is designed to
expand and accelerate sustainability and production research in nine areas:
Waycott says the income boost
could help fund a few new positions within the organization. While there are
some key positions the board will look at, “we are not intending to hire a lot
of new people,” Waycott said.
Firebaugh-area almond grower Joe
DelBosque had not heard of the proposed assessment increase until contacted by
Western Farm Press about the proposal. DelBosque said that while the proposed
increase seems a bit untimely given the significant drop in almond prices in
the past year, he understands that the Almond Board of California is trying to
keep world demand ahead of production.
“I think it’s a good thing,”
DelBosque said of the increase.
It was about a year ago that
almond growers were coming off of record high almond prices that surpassed $4
per pound to the grower. Since then they have fallen to the low $2 range –
still profitable, according to some growers.
The price declines come at a time
when grower margins are stressed by exponential increases in the price of
The Almond Board of California is
a federal marketing order that was established in 1950 as the Almond Control
Board to deal primarily with compliance issues. In 1970 the name was changed to
its present Almond Board of California and its focus expanded to include
production, nutrition, market research, advertising and promotions, quality
control and statistical analysis.
As a federal marketing order the ABC is expressly
prohibited from setting field or market prices. It is also prohibited from
lobbying efforts on behalf of the almond industry.