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April 1, 2014

Growers vote to keep Modesto-based Almond Board

Growers have voted resoundingly to keep the Almond Board of California going for five more years, the Modesto-based group announced Tuesday.

Growers have voted resoundingly to keep the Almond Board of California going for five more years, the Modesto-based group announced Tuesday.

The board, which dates to 1950, does marketing, research and other work on behalf of one of the state’s most successful crops. It undertook the vote according to U.S. Department of Agriculture rules for such groups.

“It is gratifying to know that the work of the Almond Board is recognized by the growers we serve as essential to their success, and contributes to keeping California almonds the nut of choice around the world, and a crop of choice here at home,” Chairman Bill Harp said in a news release.

The board could continue only with support from at least two-thirds of the voting growers or from voters representing at least two-thirds of the almond volume. It won 91 percent via the first method and 94 percent via the second.

The board employs 44 people at its downtown Modesto office and in Seattle; Washington, D.C.; London; Shanghai; and New Delhi, said Jenny Nicolau, senior specialist in industry relations. Its budget, based on a per-pound assessment on growers, is about $57 million for the crop year that began in August.

Most of the money goes to promoting almonds, the state’s No. 1 agricultural export, in established and emerging markets around the world. California produces 82 percent of the global supply, according to the board.

It also does research on farming practices, food safety, nutrition, environmental issues and other topics. Findings about the health benefits of almonds have helped to drive demand for the crop, which hit a record 2.02 billion pounds in 2011 but could slip this year because of the drought.

A national audience got the message Feb. 10, when talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres did a live commercial for the board. “Almonds will give you the crunch and the energy that you need,” she said while throwing nuts at a staffer jumping on a trampoline.

Almonds brought an estimated $1.51 billion in gross income to growers in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties in 2012, according to their agricultural commissioners. Several thousand people work in processing plants and at companies that provide goods and services to the industry.

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