Regulators See First-Hand Environmentally Friendly Almond Farming and Processing Practices


By Marni Katz

Special to California Almonds


March 2, 2007 Manteca, CA - - Regulators from state and federal agencies that establish and enforce environmental laws in agriculture spent a beautiful mid-bloom day in March at the facilities of Travaille and Phippen Inc. in Manteca for the Almond Board’s third annual Environmental Stewardship Tour.


The tour gave regulators, along with media, researchers and other invited guests, a first-hand look at the steps almond growers and handlers are taking to address air quality, water quality, endangered species, pesticide use and other environmental issues.


Merle Jacobs, ABC’s associate director for industry relations, told regulators that the industry is working to implement an economically viable integrated approach that addresses a number of sometimes competing environmental challenges, in addition to food safety concerns.


Department of Pesticide Regulation Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam said it is important for regulators to see first-hand how industry efforts, such as the Almond Board’s Environmental Stewardship Campaign, can help voluntarily tackle environmental issues without the need for increased regulatory burden.


“It’s fabulous for our organization to go out and understand the industry we are regulating,” she added.


During the Almond Board’s recent Environmental Stewardship Tour, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, left, director of the Calif. Department of Pesticide Regulation, and Steve Shaffer, director of CDFA’s new Agriculture and Environmental Stewardship office, discuss Gov. Schwarzenegger’s vision for sustainable farming systems and statewide efforts to better coordinate rules and regulatory agencies when it comes to environmental concerns and restrictions. (Photo by Marni Katz)


Nick Gatzman, PCA and ranch manager for Travaille and Phippen, shared with regulators what the farm is doing to control pests through environmentally sensitive farming practices that include monitoring and sampling, reduced risk pesticide use, cover crops and orchard sanitation.


Equipment manufacturers displayed improvements to sweepers, harvesters and chipper/shredders, which every year continue to raise the bar for reducing air quality emissions and other environmental impacts from almond farming and harvesting.


Dale Shimp with the State Air Resources Board said that he is impressed with the progress the almond industry is making.  


“I remember going on an almond tour 10 years ago and talking about these things as possibilities. To come here today, a decade later, and see all the improvements and progress that has happened is really just amazing,” he said.