With a theme of “Rising to the Challenge,” the 111th Blue Diamond Growers Annual Meeting highlighted the remarkable people that help power California’s largest almond cooperative.
In a virtual presentation to Blue Diamond almond growers on November 17, 2021, Mark Jansen, president and CEO, Blue Diamond Growers, and Dan Cummings, Blue Diamond Growers board chairman and director, District 1, provided business updates and acknowledged key milestones for the cooperative. Three board members either new to the board or recently re-elected to continue service were also announced, including:
- Dan Cummings, director, District 1, Chico, CA
- George A. te Velde, director, District 4, Escalon, CA
- Nick Blom, Director, district 6, Modesto, CA
Following the meeting, Cummings was selected to continue his role as Board Chair and board member Steve Van Duyn, District 5, Modesto, CA, was named vice chair for the board. Additionally, in August 2021, Kristen Daley of San Francisco, CA, was named as a new director-at-large, completing the 11-person board. “The exceptional leadership and dedication of our board is invaluable in guiding Blue Diamond Growers toward a continued successful future,” said Jansen. “I’m grateful for each of them and the wisdom and perspectives they bring to the co-op, along with their willingness to invest their time and talents to help address challenges and embrace opportunities.”
Retiring board members Charles Crivelli III, District 6, Turlock, CA, and Kevin Fondse, District 4, Ripon/Escalon, CA were also recognized as part the annual meeting program.
During his presentation, Cummings announced Christine Gemperle District 6, as the 2021 Chairman’s Grower Ambassador of the Year. A self-described “science nerd,” Gemperle, and her brother farm 135 acres of almonds in Ceres, CA. She is dedicated to sustainable almond production and focuses extensively on water savings, orchard weed control, integrated pest management, soil health and more.
“Christine is a remarkable ambassador for Blue Diamond Growers and the California almond industry as a whole,” said Cummings. “Each day, she practices what she preaches in terms of hands-on, ‘real-world’ sustainability, and she also helps to educate countless consumers about what the almond industry is doing to produce a wholesome, sustainable crop for all to enjoy—generation after generation.”
Further illustrating Blue Diamond Growers’ unwavering commitment to sustainability, Cummings announced that in 2021 alone, one-third of Blue Diamond almond growers achieved the gold level of the California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) rigorous assessment initiative, while another two-thirds accomplished either the silver or bronze CASP achievement level.
In his meeting remarks, Jansen acknowledged numerous challenges facing California agriculture and Blue Diamond almond growers, including the drought, supply chain disruptions, ongoing pandemic impacts, rising input costs, labor shortages, inflation, and more.
“Even with the remarkable headwinds that we face, we are capable of extraordinary success and rising to the challenges,” said Jansen. “We are resilient and were able to exceed targeted grower returns in 2021—thanks to the perseverance of the growers themselves and the strength of the Blue Diamond Growers team. I truly believe the best is yet to come.”