Tree Fruit Growers of California's Central Valley
Are pushing for a living, fair price for fruits
For most of us, California's stone fruit consumers, we think that the local farmers who produce what has become a highly anticipated Summer staple on our tables have received a good deal on the negotiating table. After all, we want to buy and consume locally-grown, California fruit. We want to support our growing heroes. As consumers, we would always feel more comfortable knowing that the hands that produce these succulent fruits have also been able to make a decent living. This way, they would not have to worrry about whether or not to sell the farm to all-too-willing developers and completely abandon farming. According to the Associated Fruit Producers of California, a Dinuba, California, cooperative, these growers, mostly family farmers, have not been happy with the 27.5 cents per pound they receive for their fruits. Associated Fruit is advocating on their behalf. This explains why the cooperative has recently seen a major increase in its membership rolls. A recent meeting held by the cooperative was attended by a large number of local growers who are inviting their own buddies to join in.
July is considered as an important period in the harvest season all over the San Joaquin Valley. "This is a great development for the farmers as well as the farming community's sympathizers, advocates and family members. We, consumers, want farmers to continue to produce because we believe in their products. Where else can you find such a large variety of top quality, fresh tree fruits?" wrote Mr. Joseph-J. Charles, author of two books on the Central Valley's stone fruit consumption. Last year, he published "The Long Lost Garden of Eden" which has been welcome by the local farming community. Thanks to popular acclaim, he has just released "California Blossoms and Harvest Delights," a consumer-oriented book on the Valley's stone fruit production and terroir. Both books are available at
Author Charles said that the timing of the negotiation news did not surprise him at all. After talking to many farmers, growers and their family members during the research for his books, he found signs that an increase in per-pound price was just around the corner. Growers were complaining of being unable to meet their bank deadlines. They often complain that the production costs and related expenses are highly superior to the price they get from the market. They often have to resort to the non-picking of small fruits which the grocery stores refuse to display. Once the fruits are picked and packed, the growers usually lose some bargaining edge. Therefore, they are forced to sell even at a loss.
A local farmer's daughter was recently shopping at a local grocery store in the Fresno/Clovis area. She was shocked by the disparity between the per-pound price the growers receive and $1.69 per pound charged by the grocerery clerk. She shared her reaction with the author as follows: "I just bit into one of the nectarines you gave to me....fantastic!!!!! It is so sweet!!!!!! You know, every time I go into a grocery store now, I always talk with the produce clerk. I always ask if they know that while they are charging the customer $1.69/lb and up for fruit that the poor farmer is lucky to be getting $6.00 per box. Sheesh! What a rip-off! There truly is no respect for the farmer. I wish the general public knew or at least tried to do something about being ripped off like that!! If the price per pound at the store reflected how much the farmer received per box, the farmer would be getting about $25 per box! Okay - I'll calm down now!! Thanks for being my captive audience AND thanks for the wonderful fruit."
Associated Fruit's advocacy and efforts on behalf of the growers and family farmers reflect the realities of the marketplace. If we, consumers, have been willing to pay up to $1.90 per pound, we believe that the farmers' request for a fair price is just. In light of the preceding considerations, we still think that 27.5 cents per pound is a bare minimum. All they are asking for is for everybody to be happy. They are not too greedy after all. As consumers, we don't want the growers to get ripped off. We don't want to get ripped off in the fruit aisles either. Everyone just hopes that the grocery stores, hungry for more profits, don't pass down the new costs to shoppers.
Credits and shopping Links:
Associated Fruit Producers of California,
a cooperative of fruit growers.
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