Tim Hearden/Capital Press
MODESTO, Calif. — Though it is largely a formality, California’s 6,000 almond growers and more than 100 handlers will vote soon on whether to maintain their federal marketing order.
Balloting on whether to continue the work of the Almond Board of California will be conducted from Feb. 18 through March 7, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has announced.
Farmers who grew almonds between Aug. 1, 2012 and July 31, 2013 will receive ballots by mail. The USDA will consider terminating the marketing order if less than two-thirds of growers approve it, or if growers representing less than two-thirds of the state’s volume of almonds favor it.
However, the last referendum in 2009 passed with more than 90 percent of the vote, said Maria Stobbe, a USDA marketing specialist.
“It occurs every five years because the USDA wants to know if the growers are pleased with the marketing order and if they want it to continue,” Stobbe said. “We don’t want to continue it unless the growers are happy with the marketing order.”
Almonds were third behind milk and grapes among California’s top commodities in 2012, valued at more than $4.3 billion, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.
A federal marketing order for almonds was established in 1950 as the Almond Control Board, dealing mainly with compliance issues. The 10-member panel changed its name to the Almond Board of California in the 1970s to reflect a greater emphasis on market development and research, the organization’s website explains.
The board’s five growers and five handlers are elected annually, and board-approved committees set policy in such areas as quality control and food safety, global market development and production and nutrition research.
Among the board’s most recent initiatives was to promote research affirming almonds as part of a healthy diet and working with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic on promoting almonds as a nutritious snack.
Almond Board of California: http://www.almonds.com/consumers