Blue Diamond Growers recently hosted the government’s top trade negotiator and spokesperson, Ambassador Ron Kirk, as he joined executives from California’s agriculture community to talk jobs and the importance of the pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. According to Ambassador Kirk, Congress is expected to consider approving the FTAs when it reconvenes in September.
The event, held earlier in August, was held at Blue Diamond Growers’ headquarters in Sacramento. In addition to Kirk, USTR Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Ambassador Islam Siddiqui, and Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Karen Ross, participated. Over 60 executives from California agricultural organizations attended.
“We need to do everything we can right now and double down to help deliver one message — exports, particularly farm exports, help keep America strong and help us create jobs,” said Ambassador Kirk.
“We need to get beyond the anxiety and anger Americans have when you mention free trade issues. The most compelling argument to make to our friends and neighbors is that 95 percent of our customers are somewhere else now and we don’t want to create a world in which American growers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, farmers and ranchers are cut off from all those consumers,” he concluded. Kirk stated that within five years of the removal of the duties, almond sales to South Korea, Columbia and Panama could surpass $100 million.
Bill Morecraft, General Manager, Blue Diamond Industrial Division, noted the opportunities specifically related to the worldwide market for Blue Diamond almonds. “The growth opportunities for export continue to be very dramatic,” he said. “We have seen worldwide growth rates of nearly 10% per year. To us, those sales mean jobs for American growers and their employees.”
Blue Diamond (www.bluediamond.com), owned by over half of California’s almond growers, is the leading grower and manufacturer of almond products in the U.S. and a powerful force in world markets. In addition to Blue Diamond consumer-branded almond products, the company has a strong industrial presence as an ingredient for processed foods, as well as for bulk purchase. Almonds are California’s Number One food export. California almonds rank among the nation’s Top Ten exports and provide the world with over 80 percent of its almond supply, with nearly 70 percent of the crop exported to over 90 countries. Blue Diamond is headquartered in Sacramento, California.