News / Economy

US Almond Growers Feel Impact of Russian Import Limits

FILE - Almonds ready for harvest are seen at a farm in Hilmar, Calif. The state produces 80 percent of the world's almond supply.FILE - Almonds ready for harvest are seen at a farm in Hilmar, Calif. The state produces 80 percent of the world's almond supply.
x
FILE - Almonds ready for harvest are seen at a farm in Hilmar, Calif. The state produces 80 percent of the world's almond supply.
FILE - Almonds ready for harvest are seen at a farm in Hilmar, Calif. The state produces 80 percent of the world's almond supply.
Reuters

With Russia pitting itself against the United States, the European Union and other major trading partners with bans on agricultural imports, an outsized share of the trade dispute is falling where Vladimir Putin may never have expected: On the almond growers of central California.

Almonds are the top agricultural export to Russia from the Golden State, followed by pistachios, rice, prunes and wine. Last year, California exported $102.4 million worth of the nuts to Russia, making it the eighth largest foreign market. Nationwide, almonds rank third among farm products exported to Russia, behind chicken and cattle.

Before U.S. trade friction with Russia started rising early this year, California nut growers had big plans for Russia--a market the world's largest almond processor, Blue Diamond Growers, first cracked in 1968.

“For us, it was one of the bright spots on the market place,” said Jim Zion, managing director of Meridian Nut Growers, the sales and marketing arm for a pool of California nut growers.

Hopes rose when Russian importers last year visited Meridian's offices in Clovis, California, for the first time. Their interest in how nuts are grown and processed was seen as a sign of increasing interest in trade, Zion said. However, no buyers came this year.

Zion had laid plans to mount Meridian's first-ever visit to a food show in Russia in September, but called off the trip recently because of the political tensions. Any hope of reviving the trip died when Russian President Putin announced import bans.

“It's definitely not going to happen now,” Zion said on Thursday.

Blue Diamond hired a marketing manager fluent in Russian about five years ago in a bid to boost business in Russia, said Elaine Rominger, an almond grower who sits on the 104-year old cooperative's board of directors.

“Any time that there is a ban on exports it's detrimental to crop growers,” she said. “It's bad for the country, both countries, because it doesn't allow us free trade.”

Russian sanctions, insignificant

A Blue Diamond spokeswoman said Russia's sanctions would not have a significant effect on its business.

Even before the ban, U.S. almond exports to Russia were softening, after years of growth. Total shipments of U.S. almonds to Russia are down this year for the first time since 2009. From January to June, exports were $47.1 million, down about a third from the same period a year earlier.

Growers said they easily can find alternative buyers for their almonds in places like China and Europe, where demand is strong. Russia's ban should not hurt prices, they added.

Still, the loss in Russian sales is a headache for an industry already struggling with a historic California drought.

The size of the almond harvest this year and the quality of the nuts have been hurt by the lack of water, Blue Diamond's Rominger said.

Russia's restrictions are “obviously not a bonus point,” according to Zion. “It's one more obstacle we have to overcome in farming.” 

You May Like

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8815
JPY
USD
117.85
GBP
USD
0.6581
CAD
USD
1.2420
INR
USD
61.404

Rates may not be current.