Nearly every industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and almond growers are no exception.
While May’s numbers from the Almond Board of California, showing around 154 million pounds of almonds shipped, weren’t as good as Select Harvest USA CEO Bob Nunes hoped, he is pleased to see growers have an option to get some relief if they’re suffering during the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.
Nunes is encouraging growers to sign up for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture started to provide help to growers and producers of commodities who suffered because of COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions.
“Almonds have been qualified for the program. You have to have a 5% drop or more in price for the program to qualify,” Nunes said. “Almonds have already qualified, and there is a 26-cent rate per pound for almonds sold during that time period for each grower. Then, they’d receive an 80% payment of that 26 cents and, assuming there are funds available, the final 20% would be paid at a later date.”
Because of both disruptions in the supply chain because of the coronavirus and an expected oversupply, prices have significantly dropped, hurting growers, Nunes said. Things may be difficult for a while as the U.S. and countries around the world keep struggling to cope with the global pandemic and other outside factors.
“It’s going to be tough sledding for a little while. Certainly for the 2020 crop, prices look pretty depressed at this point,” he said. “Hopefully COVID gets behind us, some of our trade issues with China and other countries get resolved, and we move a lot of almonds here in the next 12-14 months.”