Budget cuts reduce Avocado Commission staff

The California Avocado Commission (CAC) has reduced its staff by 39 percent, from 18 to 11, due to budget cuts.

The California avocado industry has been hit hard by mandatory water reductions, wildfires, and other factors which have reduced production and profitability.

“With heartfelt sympathy and regret, we implemented a large-scale reduction in force … saying goodbye to employees who have been part of the CAC family for many years,” said CAC President Tom Bellamore in the CAC’s publication The Greensheet Update.

“It was the most difficult of days at CAC – taking its toll on those leaving, but also those remaining behind,” Bellamore said. “Thankfully, I am able to say that all involved handled this emotional situation with the highest degree of professionalism, character, and grace.”

Restructuring plans began last year with considerable industry input, substantial deliberation and analysis, and predicting future realities. Although amplified by this year's short crop, Bellamore said the need to reduce overhead was not a temporary problem but a look at the CAC’s long–term viability in the service of the California avocado grower.

“As the industry constricts in size and growers struggle to remain profitable, the days of $16 million operating budgets appear to be behind us,” Bellamore said.

“No longer do we have the ability to build reserves as we have in the past, since a major portion of our revenue now comes from a weight–based assessment, which is blind to the value received for our products,” said Bellamore. “Given the reality of the new math, along with the maturation of the Hass Avocado Board into a more independent entity, (the) reorganization of the CAC staff became inevitable.”

Bellamore said the CAC will move back to its marketing roots. Industry affairs and production research programs will be streamlined while continuing to build on the equity of the California avocado brand.

“CAC management will work closely with the board to identify priorities and allocate resources efficiently,” Bellamore said.

The CAC will ask the avocado industry to step up volunteer efforts to help offset the staff reduction.

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