American Pecan Board Applauds USDA Announcement
On Friday morning, May 6, 2016, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the results of a historic vote by pecan growers in the 15-state producing area in the United States. By an overwhelming majority, producers passed a Federal Marketing Order (FMO) for Pecans, which is a self-help program funded by pecan monies and administered by pecan stakeholders for the benefit of the industry and for those who enjoy eating “America’s tree nut”.
The proponent group for the FMO, the American Pecan Board (APB), has worked closely with USDA staff for the past two and a half years to fashion a program that serves pecan growers, pecan buyers, pecan processors, and pecan consumers. Mike Adams, a Texas pecan grower and President of the American Pecan Board offers a glowing assessment of the collaborative effort of APB and USDA staff at USDA.
“This historic event would have been impossible without the able leadership of Michael Durando and the tireless work of Melissa Schmaedick and Jen Varela. Mr. Durando, Director, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, in Washington, D.C., Ms. Schmaedick, Senior Marketing Specialist in Moab, Utah and Jen Varela, Marketing Specialist in Tampa, Florida, professionally guided our board throughout the process. We also are indebted to their staffs for immeasurable contributions of time and expertise. All involved can be extremely proud of the result.”
The FMO for Pecans will be administered by a yet-to-be-selected 17-member American Pecan Council. Its responsibilities under the Final Order to be published in the Federal Register will be to market and promote pecans to increase demand, gather and publish accurate industry data, coordinate and invest in pecan research, establish quality, grade, and size standards, and create packaging guidelines and standards. Among the initial actions of the Council will be to hire full time professional staff who will carry on the day-to-day business of the American Pecan Council. The pecan industry will be joining its sister tree nuts that have conducted exemplary marketing campaigns for decades, touting not only the goodness of nuts but also the healthfulness of them.
Throughout this campaign by APB, the USDA under Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has wholeheartedly supported the need to raise the public’s awareness of the only commercially consumed tree nut native to North America. The board has sought and received wise guidance from Under Secretary Edward Avalos, who hails from the pecan producing State of New Mexico. Adams again comments: “Secretary Vilsack graciously received our pecan delegation in 2015 and lent his support to the FMO. In working with Under Secretary Avalos, we found a true friend to our industry. Both gentlemen were instrumental in the FMO for Pecans becoming a reality.”
The nine-member American Pecan Board, made up of Adams from Texas, Randy Hudson and Larry Willson from Georgia, Homer Henson from Alabama, Dan York from Arkansas, Scott Landgraf from Oklahoma, Helen Watts from South Carolina, Louie Salopek from New Mexico, and Bruce Caris from Arizona were committed from the outset to “raise the bar” for a truly American treasure, the pecan. Legal counsel Paul Quiros and Dwight Davis of King & Spalding LLP expertly steered the Board through the necessary and precise hearing process required by the law. In addition, industry patrons provided generous financial assistance to these volunteer members who were donating their time and energy to the effort. The “grass roots” nature of the campaign was genuine, and the resulting historical outcome is intended to reward pecan lovers, now and yet-to-be, with a natural and healthful food that has existed in America for centuries. Pecans have a great story to tell; the FMO for pecans simply gives the industry a bigger platform on which to tell it.