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- "Hand-harvesting costs are driving this industry into the ground," says Louise Ferguson, University of California Extension specialist.
- Because most olive growers have diversified operations, she said, they may not know “what part of the operation is eroding their capital"
Joe Hallmeyer, center, an olive grower and owner of Ken’s Stakes and Supplies in Visalia, talks with Southern California Edison representatives Nick Henschel, right, and Richard Dennis.
The meeting also included a presentation on solar projects from Cenergy Power with offices in Merced and Carlsbad. CEO Bill Pham said that even though state and local incentives for solar “are going away, it still pencils out” in terms of cost, given rising utility costs.
Federal tax incentives remain in place, he said, at 30 percent. To get the tax credit, the individual or entity must be taxable and must own the system.
For a database on incentives, he referred meeting participants to http://www.dsireusa.org/. Another resource is the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Pham said net metering, the ability to get a full retail rate credit for solar generation, has been a key to his company’s projects in agricultural industries that include nut processing and cold storage.
Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center, talked of continuing challenges to the California olive industry from European Union subsidies to foreign growers, poor quality imports flooding the U.S. and the fact other crops may be more profitable.
He said efforts are underway to create a searchable data base on olive research to be posted on the Web and said a research director has been added to “bring chemistry” into the evaluation of product standards.
Growers also heard from representatives of the Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, who recommended marking equipment with owner applied numbers and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.
Representatives of Fleishman Hillard Communications in Sacramento talked of efforts to target “moms” for the sale of olives in stores and an environmental impact report that shows annual spending by olive growers creates more than $493.6 million in overall business activity in California, a ripple effect that creates more than 3,555 jobs each year and payment of $14.7 million in business taxes.
The price schedule for California table olives was set in late August. It shows Manzanillo olives selling at $1,250 for medium, large and extra large sizes, $650 for small and $400 for petite. For the Sevillano variety, it is $1,150 for the super colossal, colossal and jumbo, $350 for the extra large “C” and $300 for the extra large “L.”