At the Capitol, June 2024

Blue Diamond Hosts USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie

Last month, Blue Diamond hosted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Robert Bonnie, for an orchard visit and tour of the Sacramento facility. The Under Secretary visited the Cooperative to discuss Blue Diamond’s Climate Smart Commodities grant and see grant practices in action.

Accompanied by Blue Diamond staff, including Chief Government and Public Affairs Officer, Alicia Rockwell, and Head of Sustainability, Dan Sonke, Under Secretary Bonnie walked through the orchard of Blue Diamond grower, Ben King, to witness how grant funding enabled King’s orchards to use conservation practices. The group then met at the Almond Innovation Center to taste several products and discuss the Climate Smart Grant. The Under Secretary discussed the importance and value of the partnership between the USDA and Blue Diamond, noting his desire to continue supporting our grower sustainability efforts and enhancing climate smart markets.

House and Senate Release Farm Bill Proposals

Chair of the U.S. Senate Agricultural Committee, Debbie Stabenow, and Chair of the U.S. House Agricultural Committee, G.T. Thompson released proposals for the 2024 Farm Bill early last month.

Both proposals intend to address support for conservation practices, nutrition programs, and strengthening the resources available to rural communities. The House’s proposal is expected to cost $1.5 trillion with a $30 million cut in nutrition programs spending, making experts skeptical about its ability to pass through the Senate. With such slim majority margins in both the Senate and the House, bipartisanship will be critical to approving a new bill. Negotiations will continue, though time could be a factor as Congress is in session only several weeks between now and the November election.

The Farm Bill provides funding for critical agriculture-based programs, including nutritional programs, and must be passed every five years. With the 2018 Farm Bill having expired in September 2023, a continuing resolution was passed to extend the bill until September 20, 2024 – the end of the fiscal year. However, December 31, 2024 marks the end of the crop year, which will effect Farm commodity support programs.

To Review Senator Stabenow’s Proposal Overview, Click HERE

To Review Assemblymember Thompson’s Proposal Overview, Click HERE

Regional Agricultural Promotion Program Awards Funding for Blue Diamond Export Initiativest

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced Blue Diamond will receive $3 million through the Regional Agricultural Promotion Program (RAPP). The program provides funding to organizations for international market expansion.

Blue Diamond has a long history of participating in programs such as RAPP to enhance and expand market opportunities. The goal of RAPP is to gain market share in diverse and dynamic markets and help U.S. exporters better compete in the global marketplace. Blue Diamond looks forward to utilizing these funds to accelerate market promotion initiatives in critical markets for the Cooperative.

Blue Diamond appreciates the support of USDA Secretary Vilsack, USDA leadership and congressional leaders for their efforts to establish this program and award funding to the almond industry.

To see Blue Diamond’s official press release on the award, click HERE

California Unveils Revised Budget

Governor Newsom’s much anticipated revised budget was released early May and aims to tackle a larger than expected deficit estimated at $56 billion over the next two fiscal years. His budget intends to close the gap through a combination of strategies including more than $30 billion in ongoing and one-time spending cuts to programs such as education and climate objectives. The release comes as state tax revenues came in $7 billion lower than expected.

After several weeks of review, the state legislature released their counter proposal rejecting some of Newsom’s proposed spending cuts and instead floated ideas to raise more revenue in the form of increased fees and suspension of tax credits. The Administration and Legislature must reach a deal by June 15, the deadline to pass a balanced budget.

As it relates to agriculture, it is anticipated some programs and initiatives will see at least partial cuts.

Agricultural Council Hosts Annual Legislative Conference

Group photo of participantsOn May 7, members of the Agricultural Council of California joined the association’s annual Legislative Conference in Sacramento. Members across the agricultural industry joined the full-day event to meet and discuss important issues with key state officials. Blue Diamond brought a strong contingency of staff and growers to advocate on behalf of Ag Council and almonds. Throughout the day, the group met with several elected representatives including Assemblymember Heath Flora, Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil, Senator Roger Niello and more.

Thank you to all that joined this great event!

© 2024 Blue Diamond Growers. All Rights Reserved.

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