The Almond Board of California's (ABC) Environmental Committee has begun a program to increase awareness and understanding of environmental issues affecting California's billion dollar almond industry. California provides 80% of the world's almond supply.
The core of the program is a Web site database that will collect all environmentally related research, regulations and media information pertaining to the almond industry. The Web site database, www.enviroag.org, is compiled from industry funded scientific research projects on air and water quality and pesticide use, as well as research conducted by other educational institutions and federal and state agencies.
A Headline News section offers postings from various news sources on almond environmental issues, while the calendar section provides times and dates of upcoming environmental meetings. The ABC is also launching a new grower newsletter that will inform growers about research results and successful innovative farming practices.
"The almond industry has spent more than $12 million dollars since the ABC began funding research projects thirty years ago. This research consists of over 200 projects that examine innovative almond farming methods. The goal of much of this research is to find ways to look at environmentally friendly approaches to almond growing," explained Chris Heintz, director of production research at the ABC.
The almond industry has been recognized for its efforts. The Environmental Protection Agency's Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) selected the Almond Board of California and the almond industry as a 2003 PESP Champion. The ABC was showcased for the research efforts it has championed over the past several years that led to an industry-wide reduction of pesticide use in almonds and more emphasis on alternative bio-sensitive integrated pest management practices. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation also recognized the almond industry's efforts in environmental stewardship by awarding the ABC its prestigious Integrated Pest Management Innovator Award.
"Almond growers have to think long term because an orchard produces for 20 or more years," says Dave Baker, Chairman of the Environmental Committee and a grower in Stanislaus County. "As stewards of the land, it behooves us to make sure that we keep the soil, air and water in the best possible condition so that the next generation can reap the benefits of a healthy environment. It's a legacy that California almond growers are proud to pass on."