2015 SPRING NEWSLETTER

May 2015

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS – RBA DISTRICT MEETINGS

Save one of the following dates and plan to attend the Raisin Bargaining Association District Meeting of your choice. We are excited to be able to introduce the new UC Viticulture Advisors from the Central San Joaquin Valley. George Zhuang from Fresno, Lindsay Jordan from Madera/Merced, Allison Ferry from Tulare/Kings, and Ashraf El-kereamy from Kern counties will attend one or both of the meetings. They are looking forward to answer any questions you may have and make their services available to you. The meetings will begin at 2:00PM and we’ll make sure to have plenty of cold beverages and raisin snacks to munch on.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 @ 2:00PM

Kerman Community Center

15101 West Kearney Plaza

Kerman, CA 93630

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 @ 2:00PM

Spike and Rail Restaurant

2950 Pea Soup Andersen Blvd.

Selma, CA 93662

BUNCH COUNT AND ACREAGE SURVEY

The Raisin Bargaining Association completed the 2015 Bunch Count survey in the first week of April. The crop appears to be maturing about a week ahead of last year (2014) based on the equivalent survey timing. This year’s average bunch count of 35.98 was basically identical to last year’s count of 35.80 and less than the ten-year RBA average of 36.75 bunches per vine. Remember that bunch counts are only the initial indicator of crop potential and there is a long way to go before harvest.

California Agricultural Statistics Service recently updated their 2014 Grape Acreage Survey. Bearing raisin-grape acreage was reduced to 190,000 acres from the previous survey amount of 200,000. The 5% reduction in raisin-grape acreage reflects one of the largest annual reductions in acreage over the past several years. We continue to witness the raisin-grape removals in the Central Valley and expect further reductions in next year’s survey update.

2015 WORLD SITUATION

Reports from Turkey are indicating the 2015 raisin grape crop may have been severely damaged by extreme low temperatures. Frost damage is reportedly very significant and will reduce their crop estimate for the coming season. These projections are always difficult to assess and it appears several Turkish sellers have pulled off the market to review the situation. A bumper 2014 Turkish crop has been challenging for our packers to compete with during the year but California raisin exports continue moving at a decent pace, considering the market price differentials, with three months left in the fiscal year. Southern Hemisphere dried-grape production appears to be normal which may fill some of the void created by a Turkish frost situation.

2015 RBA BIN PURCHASE PROGRAM

Over the past three years, the RBA has provided the opportunity for members to finance the purchase of their own raisin bin needs. The program has been very successful with the Association financing nearly $1 million worth of bin purchases over the three years of existence. Payments toward bins that have been purchased during the initial three years of the program allow the Association to have funds to finance additional purchases.

The Board of Directors of the Raisin Bargaining Association has authorized a 2015 RBA Bin Purchase Program for the membership. If you are interested in owning your own raisin bins please call the office at (559) 221-1925. We will fill you in on the details so you can own your very own raisin bins for this coming harvest season.

DANCING RAISIN MOVIE

Rusty Citron, President of the Actors Hall of Fame Foundation (AHFF) presented their ideas on the re-introduction of the “California Dancing Raisins” to audiences around the world at the RBA Annual Membership Meeting in March. This would be accomplished by working with the CRMB to produce a full-length “California Dancing Raisins” feature film for distribution worldwide. The Foundation would fully finance the plan and share revenue with the CRMB as well as provide CRMB with full approval of the content

The CRMB unanimously authorized staff to begin negotiations with the AHFF to take the process forward. The RBA was excited about the potential for this partnership when it was introduced and continues to fully support the concept going forward.

RAC STATISTICS

Shipments of Natural Seedless for the first nine months of the fiscal calendar have totaled 232,366 packed tons compared to the prior year of 253,373 packed tons which is an 8% reduction. Although domestic movement was only down 1%, export shipments were down 19% which was expected due to the reduction in crop production of about 20% from the previous season. Acquisitions of Natural Seedless through the week of April 11, 2015 were at 286,373 tons which indicate the crop estimate of slightly more than 308,000 tons should be fairly accurate.

SUPREME COURT RAISIN CASE

On April 22, 2015, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case of Raisin Valley Farms/Marvin Horne v. USDA (Raisin Administrative Committee). This is the second time this case has been heard by the Supreme Court. The first decision sent the case back to district court for their decision which came back in favor of the USDA again. This appeal will ultimately decide whether the USDA (Raisin Administrative Committee) will be able to collect the penalties and lost revenue from Raisin Valley Farms/Marvin Horne due from the reserve raisins not held in the years in question.

The case revolves around the 2002 and 2003 raisin crop years in which Raisin Valley Farms/Marvin Horne et al, were found guilty of not holding reserve raisins as ordered by the USDA/Raisin Administrative Committee. All other California raisin growers complied with the 47% reserve in 2002 and 30% reserve in 2003.

Every decision from the administrative review through the judicial process has been won by the USDA (Raisin Administrative Committee) which has determined that Raisin Valley Farms/Marvin Horne owe fines and the equivalent raisin reserve value of over $600,000 to the California Raisin industry. The decision, expected in June or July, by the Supreme Court will ultimately determine whether Raisin Valley Farms/Marvin Horne is liable for the funds or not.

FINANCING RAISIN PRODUCTION

The unfortunate Chapter 11 reorganization of West Coast Growers has raised some well-deserved concerns regarding how growers should be paid for their harvest. Banks are becoming more demanding with inventory lines of credit to the packing community thereby putting additional pressure on the RBA payment terms and conditions. The Association will continue to work with the signatory packers on fair and equitable payment terms that provide maximum return for all your efforts to produce the best raisins in the world.

USDA JOB OPPORTUNITY

Seasonal Raisin Inspector/Aide (Fresno CA)

USDA is hiring for Seasonal Raisin Aides and Inspectors

Qualifications for Raisin Inspector: US citizen, 36 months of fruit or vegetable inspection experience or a 4 year college degree. Starting pay GS-5 $15.31

Qualifications for Raisin Aide: US citizen, 6 months of fruit or vegetable inspection experience or 1 year of college education. Starting pay GS-3 $12.19

Applications are available at 2202 Monterey Street Ste. 102A Fresno, CA 93721 starting June 1 thru 30. For more information please call 559-487-5210.