California walnut growers keep board going

Bee Staff ReportsMay 27, 2014 


Walnuts staged for processing in the sheller at Alpine Pacific Nut Co. in Keyes on Monday November 18, 2013.

ANDY ALFARO — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

The California Walnut Board will promote the crop for an additional six years, following an overwhelming vote by growers.

A referendum last month drew support from 95 percent of the voters, representing 93 percent of the crop volume. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees such marketing groups, required at least two-thirds of the growers or volume.

“We’re grateful for the continued support of our growers, who see the value of working together to benefit the entire industry,” said Dennis A. Balint, executive director of the Folsom-based board, in a news release.

The board promotes walnut consumption in the United States and funds research on production of the crop. The separate California Walnut Commission, which is sanctioned by the state, handles export promotion and research on the dietary benefits.

California produces about 40 percent of the world’s walnuts, led by San Joaquin County, where growers had an estimated gross income of $457 million in 2012. Stanislaus County reported $214 million, and Merced County was at $21 million.

The board, which dates to 1948, is funded by an assessment on processors.

The USDA reported last week that walnut orchards totaled about 280,000 acres last year, up from 270,000 in 2012 and 200,000 in 2000. That land produced about 492,000 tons of nuts last year, the third most on record. The 2014 crop projection will be announced Sept. 5, early in the harvest.

The vote to continue the board came a few weeks after the Almond Board of California, based in Modesto, received a similar vote of confidence. More than 90 percent of almond growers supported five more years of work on behalf of the crop, which is far larger than walnuts.

The California Walnut Board started in 1948 as the Walnut Marketing Board. It took its current name in 2008.

“When we come together as an industry, we are powerful at addressing challenges and generating far-reaching results for all California walnut producers,” said Jerome Siebert, the board chairman.

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