The California Walnut Board (CWB) has been actively working to update the Federal Marketing Order rules governing inspection. As part of the process, the USDA will hold a hearing on April 19 and 20, 2022, to discuss the recommended updates.
Following the hearing, USDA will publish its Recommended Decision in the Federal Register for public review and comment and then schedule a referendum, which will give growers an opportunity to vote on the proposed amendments to the Marketing Order. The vote will be managed by USDA and is anticipated to be held in the later part of the year.
The CWB Grades & Standards Committee began working with USDA in 2020, looking into ways to update the outbound inspection process to remove redundancies and duplicative costs to bring more efficiency to the industry. As a result, the CWB voted to suspend enforcement of mandatory USDA outbound inspections of California walnuts. This action resulted in USDA issuing a preliminary six-month moratorium on the enforcement of the mandatory inspection requirement, effective September 1, 2021, which is expected to be extended until Marketing Order amendments are finalized.
Since that time, the CWB’s Marketing Order Revision Committee (MORC) has been meeting with staff on a regular basis to make decisions on how to evolve the Order to ensure the new version will benefit the industry in a much stronger way.
Jack Mariani, a California walnut grower and member of MORC, stated, “The updates are long overdue and being made with committee input representing growers and handlers. I believe the updates will help the industry keep up with current market demands, save resources and increase efficiencies.”
The Federal Marketing Order rules governing inspection, which date back to the Order’s inception in 1948, are outdated as market and customer quality demands have since surpassed USDA grading standards.
The Marketing Order update is among many endeavors the California Walnut Board & Commission undertakes to provide greater benefit to growers and handlers. To learn more, visit walnuts.org/walnut-industry.