What makes bargaining work?
California has a law in the Food and Agriculture Code that enables farmers to legally organize cooperative bargaining associations providing they meet the requirements of the law. When these criteria are met, the State of California will then protect and encourage farmers, through their associations, to negotiate for price and terms of contract even if the farmers have already signed a processor contract. One major requirement of the law is that the council represent a substantial number of the farmers. Since membership is voluntary, the Council must continually contact growers and encourage them to join.
As a "grass roots" organization, the Olive Growers Council is owned, operated, and controlled by a farmer board. All meetings are open and members are encouraged to participate.
With some of the better olive prices in history being paid to the producer, many new acres have been planted. It is imperative that we maintain a strong bargaining position if prices are going to improve for the grower.
When price negotiations are finalized, the prices agreed to between the council and the processors become the base price for the entire industry. Therefore, all olive farmers should belong to and support the council. This is a major objective of the Olive Growers Council - that a majority of producers become members. It is in every olive farmer's economic best interest to support the organization that works to improve olive prices. Only through formal negotiations will the producer receive his fair share of what the market place returns.
Olives are in a class of fruits called drupes, along with apricots, peaches, cherries, and plums. A drupe is characterized by a large seed surrounded by fleshy meat. Olives, unlike other drupes, are extremely bitter, so much so that they cannot be eaten directly off the tree. They have to be processed first - usually by soaking or curing in oil, water, salt, or a lye solution.