Keeping a grower cooperative thriving for 50 years takes a single-minded business acumen. Building it into the world’s largest sheller and huller facility for almonds takes lots of nuts.

When the Central California Almond Growers Association (CCAGA) began in 1963, almonds were far from the commodity of choice for Central California growers. The forward thinking of a few like-minded cotton farmers in and around Fresno and Madera counties changed that with the idea that almonds could be commercially grown on the arid rangelands of Central California.


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This year marks the CCAGA’s golden anniversary. The cooperative serves about 400 members from the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) communities of Merced to the north to Pixley in the south. Those members represent nearly 43,000 acres of almonds.

The milestone was highlighted at the organization’s annual meeting in June with good news of solid fiscal solvency and near-record net returns paid to members from last year’s crop. Reports of last year’s processing total of more than 101.4 million pounds of meat equivalents was the second largest in the association’s history.

In 2011 the association processed a record 104.2 million pounds of almonds.

“These volumes are nearly double from those we saw when I was hired by the association eight years ago,” said Michael Kelley, the CCAGA’s president and chief executive office.