The other change we’ve made is to the reward tier names. Previously, the three levels were named Bronze, Silver and Gold. Going forward, the Orchard Stewardship Program tiers are:
if you have not yet participated and received the financial payment. In my first six months at Blue Diamond , I’ve spent much of my time responding to customer requests for sustainability information. In several cases, I’ve been invited to speak to customer representatives about the program and answer their questions regarding how we are addressing climate change, drought issues, pesticide impacts, pollinator protections, and much more. The incentive has now given us strong answers to these questions in ways not possible before. For example, in the past when a company asks how we are protecting bees and other pollinators, we might have said something like “we strongly encourage our growers to follow Honeybee Best Management Practices.” While a true statement, it is more powerful to report that a significant portion of our growers are Bee Friendly Farming Certified and have planted at least an equivalency of 3% of their orchard in pollinator forage crops, and provided water for bee health, while also practicing advanced Integrated Pest Management. We now also have a dataset which represents how our members are assessing themselves in the CASP program. No individual farm data is shared with the cooperative, to be clear. We only have the cumulative rolled up and anonymized. However, these cumulative data allow us to tell a positive story about our members.
use in almonds, we now can say that more than 85% of member acreage in the assessment uses efficient micro- irrigation tools. And, when asked about groundwater use in almonds, we can say that about 70% of our orchards in the assessment have access to surface water and are not wholly reliant on groundwater resources. And about 25% of orchards plant cover crops for soil quality and pollinator benefits. The data shows Blue Diamond members to be proactive, thoughtful farmers who are stewarding their orchards well. While our cooperative has always believed that to be true, now we have numbers to back us up. When we shared some of this recently with the sustainability team from a large, well-known breakfast brand customer, they used “best in class” to describe our program. We want to keep customers returning to Blue Diamond and enabling high returns to you as a member. Hopefully the financial reward you get as a participating member is also an incentive. By the time you read this, your Regional Managers will be able to give you details about how to participate in the current crop year. Please participate and strengthen our story.
• Single Diamond • Double Diamond • Triple Diamond
This was done to avoid confusion with another program at the Almond Board which uses Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels. Now for the results. Approximately 13% of our grower base participated in the CASP assessment, representing approximately 30% of cooperative member acreage and production
volume. That means that our stewardship program growers
produced more nuts in 2020 than our next largest competitor handled in total!
Within the participants, almost no one stopped at our Single
Diamond (previously Bronze) level. Approximately two thirds reached the Double Diamond (Silver) level and one third Triple Diamond (Gold). As you can see in the graphic with this column, to reach our top tier, growers had to not only complete all nine modules of the Almond Board of California’s California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP), but also the Bee Friendly Farming Certification. For 2020, approximately 7.5% of member acres were certified under Bee Friendly Farming. You may be wondering what this all means for you as a member, especially
Dr. Dan Sonke, Director of Sustainability, Blue Diamond Growers
For example, when asked about water
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