TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) --At the 5th annual Moody Walnut Dehydrator luncheon hefty steaks were served, as host Sam Sciacca gave thanks to the walnut growers he works with.
As attendees ate, Sciacca addressed an ongoing issue that affects the entire walnut world: theft.
Since it was adopted five years ago, the county's current walnut ordinance has put a dent in the problem of theft and illegal sales. By introducing a walnut buying period, which usually starts late in the harvest season, around November first, and by requiring growers to give gleaners proof of ownership certificates, so when they sell to the buyers, they'll know the sale is legitimate and legal.
But Sciacca said the ordinance has not completely solved the problem. So he supports an amendment to it that would eliminate cash sales, and switch to checks.
"If there's a check issued, they have to cash it, they have to show an ID, so we have some transparency here that we can see through who is selling those walnuts. We didn't have that before."
"A check carries with it a level of accountability and to me that seemed like it was a very common sense option that was kind of an in-between. So no decision has been made yet, but we are open to options," said Pete Vander Poel, Tulare County Supervisor.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said last year, there were only a couple of walnut theft incidents in the county. But he would like to see that number drop to zero, with the help of the Tulare County District Attorney's Office.
"We've done a variety of things with technology that has really advanced us into a level to really keep those walnuts where they need to be."
It's all hands on deck with growers, processors, and even buyers, hopeful that they can one day eliminate walnut theft and illegal sales in Tulare County.
The public is invited to weigh in on the walnut theft ordinance and any potential changes to it on March 7th at 7:00 p.m. at Lindsay City Hall.