At the recent District Meetings held throughout the Central Valley, I appreciated the opportunity to connect with many of you in-person. You shared the challenges you are facing with increased production costs, especially in the areas of fuel, fertilizer and pest management. It certainly doesn’t help that water costs have also increased while so many were impacted by the February 2022 freeze, particularly in the northern part of the state. I’ve heard the challenging decisions that many have faced, balancing the needs of their orchards against lower market pricing and reduced yields while enduring rising input costs. Blue Diamond team members recognize that every penny counts!
With the end of the 2021 crop year in sight, we’ve had an opportunity to reflect on a dynamic season. Following several months of lackluster monthly industry shipments, innovative work by your Blue Diamond Team, in partnership with the Almond Alliance of California and others, has produced dramatic increases in shipment performance. As I stated at the District Meetings, it’s not that the port issues have necessarily improved, it’s more that we have learned to work better within the system to get your almonds to our customers. As a result, it now appears that the industry carryout at the end of 2021/22 marketing year will drop below 800 million pounds, a significant improvement over previous forecasts. As you’ve seen, this year’s National Statistical Service Objective Estimate for the 2022 California almond crop was 2.6 billion meat pounds. When compared to the May Subjective forecast of 2.8 billion pounds the 200-million- pound difference reflects concerns over water availability during California’s continued drought. The harvest season is now upon us. Fueled by extended runs of hot weather, growers with water and heat-stressed orchards in Fresno and Colusa counties started shaking trees in mid-July. I know many growers throughout the state are seeing nuts on the ground and readying equipment and resources for your busiest time of the year.
In times of inflation like these, it’s important to appreciate that one of the strengths of our 112-year-old co-op is financial stability. I’m proud that we’ve been able to consistently provide our growers with competitively advantaged returns when they need it most. In addition to delivering progress payments throughout the year, our growers can take advantage of accelerated or deferred payment options, as well as pre-harvest and stockpile advances. As Blue Diamond member-owners, our growers also have access to long and short- term investment programs, tax deductions, and premium payments for delivering exceptional quality almonds. Our Orchard Stewardship Incentive Program (OSIP) is another source of welcome funding. This year, the co-op paid out $1.75 million in incentives, an average of over $3,000 per contract, to reward growers for documenting the sustainable farming practices they’ve already been doing. As demonstrated through nearly a 50% increase in the number of contracts participating in this program, our growers have truly embraced their role as stewards of the land they farm. In case you missed it, the Almond Board recently shared a list of additional financial incentive opportunities associated with water and energy efficiency, water and air quality, and habitat creation, available for almond growers. More information on those incentives can be found on ABC’s website under Grower Tools.
Mark Jansen President & CEO
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