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

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.