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September 20, 2010

Hazelnut growers launch sustainability initiative

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Hazelnut growers launch sustainability initiative

 SureHarvest to lead hazelnut industry to design sustainable agriculture continuous improvement program

 (SOQUEL, CA – September 20, 2010) Proactively positioning their industry for the future, the Oregon Hazelnut Commission and Hazelnut Marketing Board is launching a strategic initiative led by SureHarvest to design and implement a sustainability program for this $63 million dollar crop.

“Hazelnut trees can live up to 100 years, so we take a long-term view. We’ve been integrating sustainability practices into our orchards for some time. We are now ready to assess our farming practices and identify opportunities to maximize efficient resource use while benefiting the environment and society,” noted Don Christensen, Chair of the Oregon Hazelnut Commission Science Committee.

“We decided that a grower-led program would best position us to be proactive on environmental issues and to demonstrate sustainability performance to regulators and our buyers,” according to Polly Owen, Manager for the Oregon Hazelnut Commission. “We chose SureHarvest because of their leadership in developing sustainability programs for the winegrape and almond grower associations. They understand the economic and regulatory pressures on growers and the opportunities available to growers who take a sustainability approach to their farming operations.”

SureHarvest conducted a needs assessment survey among 41 growers, handlers, dryer operators, crop advisors, and other stakeholders. Over 90 percent of respondents indicated that a grower-led effort to address the sustainability of hazelnut production was “very important” or “important.” Respondents identified regulators and policymakers as the primary target audience of the program, with buyers as emerging in importance.

Dr. Dan Sonke, Senior Scientist with SureHarvest stated, “This is a great time to begin documenting sustainability, because hazelnut farming uses few resources compared with many other crops, and the recent introduction of new, traditionally bred varieties promises to reduce that even further.”

The hazelnut sustainability program will be voluntary and include a self-assessment tool, benchmark reporting and a continuous improvement program for responding to areas of highest priority with targeted outreach, research and education. A committee of hazelnut growers and handlers, Oregon State University researchers and crop advisors, and environmental stakeholders will be led by SureHarvest to develop two modules aimed at Pest Management and Soil Management for pilot testing in early 2011.

About the Oregon Hazelnut Commission (OHC) and Hazelnut Marketing Board (HMB): (www.oregonhazelnuts.org) The OHC and HMB are the respective production research and promotion arms of the industry. Hazelnuts are grown on 32,000 acres in 9 counties in the Willamette Valley of Oregon yielding an average of 37,000 tons with a $63 million farmgate value.

About SureHarvest: (www.sureharvest.com) SureHarvest provides consulting services and software for growers and agrifood companies pursuing sustainability strategies. Since 1999, SureHarvest was the key architect of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Program and is currently leading sustainability initiatives in the almond, pear, and dairy sectors.