Ordinance to Deter Walnut Theft Begins Nov. 4

Some rights reserved by Darron Birgenheier

In order to help deter walnut thieves, the Stanislaus County has declared walnut buying period will begin Nov. 4 and end April 30, 2015.

The announcement, made by Agriculture Commissioner Milton O’Haire, is part of the Purchase and Sale of Walnuts ordinance adopted on July 29 by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.

According to O’Haire, the walnut industry is particularly vulnerable to theft due to the way in which the nuts are harvested. Typically walnuts are shaken from trees and left unattended in windrows until collected by harvesting equipment.

Unfortunately, some people steal walnuts from orchards and sell them illegally.

The ordinance establishes a buying period, which is declared after consultation with the walnut industry and coincides with the completion of walnut season, and requirements regarding the transportation and identification of walnut crops.

During the buying period, non-processing walnut buying operations within the county may lawfully purchase and receive walnuts that have not been dried or processed, but must register with the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office prior to commencing buying walnuts.

Any person selling less than 2,000 pounds of walnuts must possess a form of Proof of Ownership that has been approved by the Agricultural Commissioner at the time of sale.

A Proof of Ownership certificate can be obtained for free by contacting the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Anyone possessing walnuts which will not enter into commerce is exempted from the ordinance.

There were 37,435 harvested acres in the county with a farm gate value of $248 million, according to the Stanislaus County 2013 Crop Report.

More information on the Stanislaus County Purchase and Sale of Walnuts ordinance can be found on the County’s website at http://qcode.us/codes/stanislauscounty/ Title 9 Health and Safety, Chapter 9.48 Purchase and Sale of Walnuts.

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