The new Board of Directors of the Almond Board of California (ABC) took their seats on Wednesday with five voting members – three of them new to the board – beginning new terms to help oversee ABC’s support of one of California’s most important agricultural crops.
Board members, whose terms officially began Aug. 1, also elected Brian Wahlbrink as chair and George Goshgarian Jr. as vice chair.
“This is a knowledgeable, talented board,” Wahlbrink said. “Our board members come from across our industry and around our state. They bring a great energy and an impressive range of experience, and we’re all eager to continue moving California almonds forward as one of the state’s most valuable and important crops.”
The 10-member board of ABC has five grower members – three representing independent growers and two representing growers working with cooperatives – and five handler members, also with three independents and two co-op reps.
The new grower representatives are:
- Paul Ewing, an independent from RPAC Almonds in Los Banos. He was re-elected and takes a 1-year term.
- Joe Gardiner, an independent from Treehouse California Almonds in Earlimart. He was an alternative on the previous board and takes a 3-year term.
- Christine Gemperle, a co-op grower from Gemperle Orchards in Ceres. She was also a former alternate and takes a 3-year term.
The new handler representatives are:
- Darren Rigg, an independent handler from Minturn Nut Co in Le Grand. He was re-elected and takes a 1-year term.
- Bob Silveria, an independent handler from Vann Family Orchards in Williams. He will serve a 3-year term.
In addition, the board has five new alternates:
- Brandon Rebeiro, an independent grower from Gold Leaf Farming in Modesto.
- Chris Bettencourt, an independent grower from Westley.
- Kent Stenderup, a co-op grower from Stenderup Ag Partners in Bakersfield and former chair of the ABC Board.
- Dexter Long, an independent handler from Hilltop Ranch in Ballico. He was re-elected as an alternate.
- Chad DeRose, an independent handler from Famoso Nut Co. in McFarland. He was also re-elected as an alternate.
The ABC board sets policy and recommends budgets to the Secretary of Agriculture in major areas including production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.
ABC is a Federal Marketing Order dedicated to promoting California almonds to domestic and international audiences through marketing efforts and by funding and promoting research about almonds’ health benefits, efficient and sustainable farming, food safety and more. ABC works on behalf of the more than 7,600 almond growers and processors in California, many of whom are multi-generational family operations.