Blue Diamond Growers, a member of the California Chamber of Commerce, announced this week that it was awarded $45 million in funds provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of a massive climate protection partnership activation.
The almond grower cooperative was one of 70 partners named out of 450 proposals submitted to the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities for a first round of funding.
Almonds are the top perennial specialty crop in the U.S. as measured by value, and Blue Diamond Growers is the largest supplier of almonds from California, representing approximately 3,000 growers throughout California’s Central Valley.
“This is a historic opportunity for our 112-year old cooperative representing nearly half of the almond growers in California,” said Mark Jansen, president and CEO of Blue Diamond Growers and a member of the CalChamber Board. “These funds will help significantly accelerate and expand the stewardship impact that our multi-generational family farms are already making in orchards throughout the state.”
According to Jansen, the funding will be used in the co-op’s orchards to help Blue Diamond growers expand existing implementation of cover crops, conservation plantings, hedgerows and practice whole orchard recycling. As a dynamic global consumer packaged goods company, Blue Diamond’s unique market position enables it to connect climate-smart almond farms to consumer markets through branded almond products as well as an international ingredient business with major multinational brands all committed to climate impact reductions.
Dr. Dan Sonke, director of Sustainability for Blue Diamond Growers, facilitated the co-op’s application for the USDA funds in the spring of this year. He said the award will fund on-the-ground climate-smart practices to not only sequester carbon to combat climate change, but also enhance the biodiversity of orchards and the soil.
“These regenerative practices enhance the resiliency of our farmers in a changing climate and with global market challenges,” Sonke said, adding that the next steps for the co-op will be to work with its grower-members, USDA officials, and applicant partners to finalize the scope and timing of proposed activities along with the related funding.
More information on Blue Diamond Growers’ existing commitment to sustainable practices can be found on the co-op’s Sustainability website at bluediamond.com/Sustainability and will be shared in its 2022 Sustainability Report anticipated for release in mid-November.