Prosperi says the success of the organization is attributed to the close-working relationship between staff and board members.

“We are very satisfied with our achievements,” said Prosperi.

While the first year of operation included 800,000 meat pounds of almonds hulled at the Sanger facility, it would be a matter of time before the association outgrew capacity. In 1981, the association expanded with an operation south of Kerman. The first sheller came online at the Kerman location in 1983, effectively doubling the association’s processing capacity.

Today, CCAGA owns three shellers at the Kerman site and one shelling facility at the Sanger location east of Fresno, with a combined processing capacity of about 125 million pounds.

While consumers previously wanted almonds separated from the hulls and later the shells, the value of hulls and shells later became a significant cash crop for the organization through sales to local dairies as feed, and later as a bedding source for cows.

Today, 90 percent of the association’s income is from the sale of hulls to valley dairies.

“This is huge given that almond hulls had little significant value when the association began 50 years ago,” said Kelley.

New challenges continue as the California almond industry now produces about two billion pounds of almonds annually. Kelley wants to open markets for hulls beyond California’s borders.

With the current financial concerns facing the California dairy industry, Kelley is looking ways to transport hulls into other dairy areas in the U.S.

“Some of those dairymen in other states used to be here in California,” said Kelley. “They really wish they could get almond hulls right now, but the cost of shipping hulls there is currently cost prohibitive.”

Kelley is considering the options and sees opportunities ahead.

“Now is the time to search out new markets and determine workable methods to ship almond hulls beyond California,” Kelley said.

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