Walnut Season to Begin; Tulare County to Crack Down on Nut Theives

Tulare County Agricultural Commissioner Marilyn Kinoshita announced today the walnut-buying period will begin November 1 and the County’s newly amended nut theft ordinance will be enforced.

“Commercial production and handling of walnuts constitute an important industry here in Tulare County.” Kinoshita said. “Unfortunately, some people steal them from orchards and sell the walnuts illegally on the streets. County staff has been actively enforcing the nut theft ordinance by conducting compliance checks at places where walnuts are sold to ensure that this practice stops.”

On August 28, 2012, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved amendments to an existing nut theft ordinance to assist with an issue that has long plagued the walnut industry. Walnuts are typically shaken from the trees and left unattended until workers can gather them up, making them prime targets for overnight heists.

One amendment to the ordinance mandates that non-processing walnut-buying stands shall not operate within the boundaries’ of Tulare County until a “Walnut Buying Period”, as established by the Agricultural Commissioner, is in effect. Kinoshita said that consensus was reached amongst all walnut growers to determine the appropriate start date.

What documentation is required to sell walnuts at a non-processing walnut-buying stand?

The County’s nut theft ordinance states:

Upon probable cause to believe any amount of walnuts regulated pursuant to this ordinance is in unlawful possession, proof of ownership shall be made available for inspection upon request of the commissioner or any peace officer. The record shall contain the following information:
(a) Name, address, driver’s license number, telephone number, signature of seller.
(b) Name, address, telephone number, and signature of buyer.
(c) Vehicle license plate number of the seller.
(d) Common or generic name and quantity of the commodity involved.
(e) Date and time of the transaction.
A copy of the record shall be retained by the seller for a period of 60 days after delivery and by the buyer for a period of two years from the date of such sale.