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On the packer side there are as many propositions as there are packers to reduce the field price by as much as $500.00 per ton from last year. That is not an option for the RBA Board of Directors at this time. The RBA wants there to be equilibrium in pricing; your Board of Directors want one thing for the membership: a price that yields a fair return for the $1,350 cost of producing a ton of raisins. The way pricing works is that first the RBA sets a minimum field price and second, the packers set their sales prices.

There may not be an announced field price for weeks or perhaps months.

The RBA has notified all signatory packers of Food and Agriculture Code Section 54402 which prohibits a packer from discriminating against an agricultural cooperative like the RBA. It is discriminatory for any packer to pay any amount to any independent growers, while denying the same payment to an RBA member. The RBA is aware this may be happening now, and will take action against any packer who refuses to equalize advance payments between independents and RBA growers. If you have been refused an advance, call the RBA office today.

Every payment a packer makes to an independent but not an RBA grower is a step to “eliminate” the RBA. Without an RBA, all growers face consignment. It is the independents with their deliveries now who have emboldened the packers. Independents should be careful what they wish for if they believe the industry would be better served without the RBA.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) mandated the Raisin Bargaining Association to participate in a conciliation at the request of seven of our signatory packers. The RBA responded by agreeing to conciliate with the seven packers and requesting CDFA to include our other six signatory packers in the process too. The CDFA sent notices to all signatory packers regarding their participation however only mandated the original seven packers to the conciliation.

The conciliation recently concluded with ten of the thirteen signatory packers from the 2015 RBA MOU eventually participating in the process. After four days of meetings with retired Judge Oliver Wanger, as the Conciliator, the parties were unable to reach an agreement for the 2016 harvest. Confidentiality rules of the conciliation process do not allow for specific details to be released however the RBA Board of Directors is continuing to negotiate in good faith with all signatory packers for this year’s price by offering 2016 Natural Seedless raisins for $1,400 per ton based on an 80%/20% payment structure. The remaining 10% of the 2015 harvest would be valued at the same $1,400 per ton amount.

The markets do realize that price is a composite of need, supply, and what it takes to keep up that supply. The RBA acknowledges with appreciation those packers who keep selling California raisins and marketing them as nutritious and safe and promote new products with California raisins.

Conclusion: Keep the RBA office informed of your concerns; the RBA Board of Directors is continuing to meet and confer with all the packers to do what is best for the marketplace and especially, what is best for our members.

To all, and we mean all, raisin growers be aware and live the ancient Roman maxim that nothing so cements and holds together the members of an industry, and society, unless they are under some force or necessity of being honest one to another. We are at that critical time! The necessity is now.


The 2016 California raisin-grape harvest began 7 to 10 days earlier this year and was blessed with favorable weather conditions through the season. Raisin grapes for the crush programs began early August with low-sugar programs quickly reaching maximum brix levels due to the reduced yields per acre being harvested. Raisin grapes for the green crush experienced the lower yields and reduced acreage prompting the price being paid to more than $200 per green ton, delivered.

This year’s tray counts ranged 10% to 30% less than last season. Bin weights will be greater than last year with the high quality, however the number of bins coming out of the field are substantially less than last year. While this is only an indicator of the potential size of the raisin crop, it is an initial sign that there will definitely be fewer raisins delivered to packers this season. With 10,000 to 15,000 fewer acres of raisin grapes available to harvest this year, increased interest in raisin grapes for the green crush, and the smaller tray counts all add up to a significantly reduced crop of raisins in 2016 for the industry to market this coming season.


The Raisin Administrative Committee (RAC) met on September 23, 2016 to among other things, discuss the size of this year’s crop. With the industry consensus that this year’s Natural Seedless raisin supply was definitely smaller than last year, a preliminary crop estimate was established at 270,000 tons plus or minus 15,000 tons until a more conclusive figure could be determined.

Natural Seedless raisin shipments for the months of August and September 2016 were reported to be 7% higher than the same period last year by the RAC. Domestic shipments were up 4% and exports were greater by 13%. Shipments of all varieties of California raisins were up 10% compared to the same period in 2015.


The RAC seated the 2016-18 term of members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture at the September 23, 2016 meeting. RBA Chairman Monte Schutz was re-elected to Chair the RAC for another two-year term. Jon Marthedal was re-elected to serve as Vice-Chairman. RBA director Michael Mikaelian was re-elected to serve as the RAC Secretary. Jeff Jue was elected to be Treasurer of the RAC replacing Bob Epperson who has retired from serving on the RAC after multiple terms of service as the Treasurer. The RBA salutes Bob for his many years of faithful service to the RAC and expertise he brought in his role as Treasurer.


The USDA requested bids for the purchase of $20 million of California Raisins to be packed and shipped for delivery starting November 2016 through April 2017. The request is for 1.33 ounce and 15 ounce boxes. Based on recent successful bids of similar configurations, this purchase has the potential to sell approximately 10,000 tons of California Raisins to the government for placement in the many food distribution programs they service.

Federal government fiscal year runs from October through September which places this purchase in the just ended 2015/16 budget year ending in September. We appreciate the USDA efforts to buy California Raisins with their current budget and they have indicated a willingness to consider further purchases in the 2016/17 fiscal year. Originally, the California raisin industry requested the USDA to consider a purchase up to 60,000 tons for the Bonus Buy program.

RAC Chairman Monte Schutz has been very active in the process to make these purchases take place and continues to advocate with USDA for additional sales. He has already sent a letter requesting consideration of additional purchases and plans to lead a delegation to Washington DC in the near future.


The RBA appreciates the efforts of growers who have yet to deliver their raisin crop until a field price is established for your 2016 harvest. We want to remind all growers to make sure they have proper insurance coverage while their bins remain on their property. Your valuable product is not covered for Theft, Fire, and Vandalism unless scheduled and added to an existing farm policy.

Call your insurance agent to add this important coverage. Premiums can be pro-rated for the amount of time necessary. When the raisins are delivered to your packer, call your agent to remove the coverage. It is also a good idea to check with your trucker to make sure they carry Cargo Insurance before leaving with your raisins; and for grower-hauled raisins, Transit Coverage should be in place. These relatively inexpensive items can prevent a costly problem later.


Malcolm Media Ag Publishing is presenting the 2016 Grape, Nut & Tree Fruit Expo to be held at the Big Fresno Fairgrounds. American Vineyard, California Fresh Fruit, and Pacific Nut Producer magazines are published by Malcolm Media. On Wednesday, November 16, 2016 the event will feature Grower seminars, free breakfast and lunch, PCA credit and plenty of exhibitors with their latest equipment and services on display. The Raisin Bargaining Association has been a proud sponsor of this annual exhibition for many years and invites you to come by our booth and enjoy a delicious California Raisin cookie on us. See you there!