One of the popular draws at the conference are the breakout sessions where growers can hear from researchers, industry officials and even other farmers about innovations and other ways to improve their yield, be more efficient and help the environment. But being able to affordably act upon the information – some of which could mean investing a significant amount – can often be a challenge.
That’s where the Incentive and Grower Support Zone comes in.
Located in the upstairs hallway just outside of the meeting rooms where the breakout sessions are held, the Zone will be staffed by representatives from agencies who offer funding for a wide range of orchard practices and system improvements. Growers will be able to walk out the door after hearing about a practice and have a one-on-one conversation with someone who offers a program to help pay for it.
Among the agencies expected to be part of the Incentive and Grower Support Zone are:
The California Department of Food and Agriculture
The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District
The Natural Resources and Conservation Service
The Farm Services Agency
CIMIS officials from the Department of Water Resources
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
The Department of Pesticide Regulation
“We’re really looking to make it easy for growers to connect in one place with all these different agencies,” explained Jesse Roseman, Principal Analyst for Regulatory and Environmental affairs for the Almond Board. “Many of them offer similar options -- whether it’s irrigation, whole orchard recycling, composting, engine replacement – you can really talk to the staff, look at their materials and figure out even among these agencies if there’s one that’s a better fit than another.”
Other potential projects for which funding is available include pollinator habitat and health, pest management, groundwater recharge and reducing dust during harvest.
“Lots of these programs pertain to topics that will be covered in sessions and might pique your interest and then you can just go right outside and talk with the agencies with the grants that help growers adopt these practices,” said Roseman.
Financial incentives – whether in the form of government grants or cost-share options – are only offered for programs that are known to make a positive difference in the orchard or for the environment. Some of the research to back that up has been funded by the Almond Board.
“They’ve proven their efficacy, their agronomic benefits and now we’ve got incentive programs in place to do things like whole orchard recycling or purchasing a low-dust harvester or implementing navel orangeworm mating disruption,” said Roseman. “So these are things that we know from the research that they work, are beneficial, and that they can help with the bottom line.”
There is still time for growers and industry members to sign up to attend this year’s Almond Conference. Registration is free and attendees can register online. As in years past, there will be hundreds of vendors representing all facets of the industry on the convention center floor as well as informative panel discussions on a variety of key topics.