California almond growers have voted overwhelmingly to continue their federal marketing order program, administered by the Almond Board of California (ABC).

According to the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), 93.77 percent of all growers voting and 89.14 percent of the volume of production represented by those growers voting, favored continuance.

To allow the program to remain in effect, at least two-thirds of the growers voting in the referendum, or growers representing at least two-thirds of the volume of almonds represented in the referendum had to vote in favor of the order. Valid ballots from 1,767 eligible growers were cast in the referendum, about 28 percent of the estimated 6,250 almond growers.

Marketing orders and marketing agreements are designed to help stabilize trade conditions for fruit and vegetable products. Key program areas for ABC include domestic and international marketing, nutrition research, the collection and dissemination of industry statistics, production research, and food quality and safety. These programs allow the industry to collectively work to improve and develop markets.

California produces more than 80 percent of the world's almonds and nearly 100 percent of the United States' consumption. With a farmgate value exceeding more than $1 billion in 2003, California almonds are the state's No. 1 agricultural export and the United States' No. 1 horticultural export.

Established in 1950, ABC's charge is to promote the best quality almonds, the state's largest tree nut crop. Marketing orders and agreements function under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, and authority for the referendum rests in the act.