The Ripon-based Almond Hullers and Processors Association (AHPA) that represents the interests of almond growers, hullers/shellers,and processors has issued an urgent plea to state and federal legislators to help bring together both parties and find a solution to an ongoing labor dispute that has severely impacted almond shipments in and out of West Coast ports.
The labor dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has created a slowdown in loading and unloading cargo ships at West Coast ports, causing severe economic hardship to the multi-billion dollar California almond industry, said APHA President Kelly Covello.
“Approximately 70 percent of California almonds are exported and nearly 80 percent of bulk almond exports by value are exported from the Port of Oakland,” she noted. “Bulk almonds alone accounted for nearly 16 percent of the $20.1 billion in goods exported from the Port of Oakland in 2013.”
The California almond industry provides nearly $22 billion in economic output and supports over 100,000 jobs directly and indirectly, of which 97,000 jobs are located in the Central Valley, according to a UC Davis economic study released in December 2014.
The ongoing slowdown in loading and unloading vessels has resulted in almond handlers and shippers reporting hundreds of containers delayed, dozens of cancelled orders, several rerouted orders at considerably greater expense, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in congestion and other charges, according to Covello.