Apr 132012

This past Wednesday, Adam Englehardt of California Olive Ranch gave a two-part presentation to members of the Georgia Olive Growers Association, some Florida growers, USDA employees, Congressional staffers, and other involved parties. The first part of the presentation was data to support the proposed marketing order and the second part was a section by section look at the order.

No, I’m not going to divulge any aspects of the actual marketing order. I am honor-bound not to do so and while that doesn’t mean much to some folks, it does to me.

What I am going to do is identify what I have determined is a fly in the ointment of the proposed US olive oil marketing order. The ‘fly’ is small and annoying right now but after feasting on distrust and resulting ill-will has the potential of tanking the marketing order. It makes me wonder – naivete or plan?

Prior to the presentation and meeting on Wednesday I had no opinion about the order. After reading the proposed marketing order and after considering the options and opportunities it presents for the United States olive industry I support the concept. The language is still rough and some crucial pieces are missing.

During Adam’s first presentation, I began to hear the fly. Throughout it the buzzing got louder and finally subsided when he launched into the marketing order section review. Then all of a sudden the buzzing started again and the fly began to furiously circle the room.

So Olive Crazy what does the fly represent? The fly is the niggle in the back of your brain. It is the hair standing up on your arms or the back of your neck. It is the bad omen. It is the sign of danger.

I have had and in some cases still enjoy successful careers in the military, politics, and business. Not only do I make sure I am well-educated in the areas in which I operate; can implement what I know at strategic and tactical levels; but I have great instincts and I trust them. The fly in this article is representing my instinct that some things aren’t adding up and these things, unless resolved now, will cause trouble.

Here are a few of those things:

  1. Spain is the largest exporter of olive oil in the world (not Italy – they’ve got a bottling scheme going on which makes people think they are).
  2. Spain is a charter member of the International Olive Council (IOC) which is controlled by olive oil mega corporations who have been identified as exporters of fake olive oil (seed oils masquerading as olive oil) and/or low-grade olive oil masquerading as extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Spanish investors started California Olive Ranch in the 1990s and still hold the reins.
  4. The California Olive Ranch is carrying the ball for the marketing order.
  5. The California Olive Ranch, with limited input, has created a national olive oil trade association, hired a lobbyist at the federal level, and have already commenced lobbying even though there is no record of lobbyist registration.
  6. A representative from Agromillora, Spain’s largest olive grower, was sitting in the room with us during Adam’s presentation.
  7. Adam Englehardt, who I genuinely like, claims to be politically naive, yet is making politically-sensitive decisions for an entire industry.

There are more items I could add to this list, my intention is not to sabotage the olive oil marketing order process but to alert United States olive oil stakeholders of pending problems, which can be fixed. The marketing order process is 10% business and 90% political. The 90% includes governmental, business, and personality driven politics. Strategic errors are being made which will destroy the best efforts of American olive growers and olive oil producers to enter, in any meaningful way, the global olive oil business, much less combat a cracking, but still powerful, Europe-based world olive oil trade.

If the market order process isn’t done properly the consumers of the world’s largest potential olive oil market, the east coast of the United States, will still have to buy price-altered, fake and low-quality imported olive oil, while US olive oil is relegated to the annals of agriculture as a quaint novelty.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Apr 072012

I want to pass on another great bit of information about an olive business event in Georgia that is happening THIS WEEK.

Members of the fledgling US east coast olive growing and olive oil producing industries have the chance to participate in a “business-changing” event with global implications. If you are already involved or even thinking about becoming involved in growing olives for olive oil production or are interested in just the olive oil production side of the business you must attend the presentation and discussion of the proposed federal olive oil marketing order.

This important presentation and discussion will be held on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at the University of Georgia’s, National Environmentally Sound Production Agriculture Laboratory (NESPAL) Building, 2356 Rainwater Road, Tifton, GA 31793.

If you plan to attend, please contact  Beth Oleson, Executive Director of the Georgia Olive Growers Association, by email at georgiaolivegrowers@asginfo.net or by phone at (706) 845-9085.

There is supposed to be a Google Map to the location just beneath these words but I noticed that sometimes I need to refresh my webpage to see the map. In case the map doesn’t show up or refresh doesn’t work, I added a link to the map in the address just above.

View Larger Map

May the sun shine through your branches.


Jan 202012

Today finishes up the second week of the Georgia Legislative Session. If you, kind and gentle reader, perused my About The Author page you will know I am one of those evil lobbyists, one who is sprinkled with extra-evil sauce since I used to be a Legislator too (cough – insider – cough cough). For the last two weeks I have traipsed down to what I grew up knowing as Corny Joke World and more recently as the House of Nerds, the Georgia Capitol. Please, Olive Crazy, tell us what you mean.


When I was 14, my Dad, the former high school drop out, apprentice electrician, WWII Navy dentist mate, Citadel grad, law school student, med school student, banker, seminarian, semi-pro football player, high school history teacher and football coach (those two go together like butter and rebar), farm chemical engineer, oil well lease negotiator, child psychologist, … added to his Benjamin Franklin-like career list and became a lobbyist for the most holy Roman Catholic Church. Since Dad was a big-time family guy, he took me, the oldest of his eight gorgeous and smart children, along with him to the Georgia Capitol during Legislative Session.

I was thrilled to get pulled out of school for a week or two to make the two and a half hour drive over to Atlanta to become the indentured servant of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker, Clerk of the House, and Secretary of the Senate. Sometimes I got to be a Page. Being a Page was the best. When it was my turn to go into the House or Senate Chamber some old man would give me money to buy him a candy bar or some smokes. I’d get to keep the change.

However, I did have to endure a few indignities, one was constantly having my head patted and the other was listening to and politely laughing at corny jokes, hence the place came to be known to me as Corny Joke World. When I stepped into Corny Joke World last week I saw one of the guys who used to tell the corniest jokes and yes after 40 years (I am 54 now) he is still hanging out at the Capitol and lobbying for anyone who will pay him. I wondered if he still had that round wooden disk in his pocket that had TUIT engraved on it.

Next to Mr. Corny Joke Lobbyist was one of my fellow members of the House of Nerds. A member of the House of Nerds is a former or current Member of the Georgia General Assembly who watches Dr. Who, makes strange comments like, “I hope we’re out (of Session) by Towel Day (May 25th),” or, like me, had alternating laptop screen savers of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica characters and scenes.

My fellow member of the House asked me about the latest in the olive world and I, of course, regaled him and Mr. CJL in verbal, brain-dump fashion. This chased away Mr. CJL but my fellow nerd stayed around listening with rapt attention. Score!

One of the things I told him about was the olive conference which was to be held on January 19th and 20th in Dixon, California and how much I was looking forward to reading the proposed olive oil marketing order. Then in true nerd-fashion one of us started talking about the conference like it was a Con (ya know – Comic Con, Dragon Con, …) we pretended that all our favorite sci fi characters were making presentations and we did it in funny voices. We laughed so hard my mascara ran. I repaired to the ladies for a touch up.

Here is my fictitious and very nerdy schedule for todays Olive Con events.

Olive Con Day Two – Friday, January 20, 2012

Time Event Speaker
8:00 AM Introduction and welcome to the Fleet Commander William Adama
8:00 AM – 8:45 AM International perspective, evolution of the SHD olive, ‘Lessons learned from Kobol’ President Laura Roslin
8:45 AM – 9:30 AM Mechanical hedging research trials – how to best use your Cylon Chief Galen Tyrol
9:30 AM – 9:45 AM Break Elosha will be in the lobby reading from the scrolls of Pythia.
9:45 AM – 10:30 AM Latest research on olive knot disease and blood sampling Dr. Gaius Baltar
10:30 AM – 11:15 AM Soil type and suitability of SHD olive orchards, importance of evaluation and preparation in order to take over the universe Caprica aka Number Six
11:15 PM – 12:00 PM Tradeshow Check out the new Cylon harvester models in the middle of the tradeshow floor.
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch and Tradeshow Try the dried algae. Don’t forget to pour some extra virgin olive oil on it. Outer space diets are bland.
1:00 PM – 1:45 PM Crop insurance and new iPhone app Lieutenant Felix Gaeta
1:45 PM – 2:30 PM New SHD trellis system – it’s a two toaster job Boomer and Athena aka Number Eight
2:30 PM – 3:15 PM Irrigation scheduling, crop management, orchard monitoring, and fertility experimentation Simon aka Number Four
3:15 PM – 4:00 PM Q & A panel of afternoon speakers – some talking in riddles Cylon Models One through Twelve, the Final Five, and a Hybrid
4:00 PM End (GET OUT) Big shiny Cylons will escort you out of the building so they can clean up after you. This will make them resentful and they will declare war on us, but not just yet.
Now, head to the parking lot to watch the C-Bucs play a riveting game of Pyramid. The Ambrosia and Hooch table will be manned by Colonel Saul Tigh, Ellen Tigh, and Captain Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace. Hurry or the drinks will be all gone since they are lushes. Return to your respective ships and don’t forget, as you ponder the proposed olive oil marketing order, “this has all happened before and it will all happen again.” So – get it right!

May the sun shine through your branches.


PS For those of you who didn’t get some of the references here you go: Towel Day – a nod to Douglas Adams’, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; and the round wooden disk with TUIT engraved on it involves a joke that ends with, “get around to it.” No matter how hard I’ve tried I can’t remember how the “round TUIT” joke goes and I’m too scared to ask Mr. CJL – he might tell me.