VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --In order to strengthen Tulare County's nut theft ordinance, there are eight different options available. Tulare County Ag Commissioner Marily Kinoshita says they would like to implement them all to protect valuable commodities like walnuts, which she says are especially vulnerable to theft in the fall.
"Altogether our nut crops are three quarters of a billion dollars, so to our local economy, it's a big deal."
The current ordinance already requires sellers possess a proof of ownership certificate and also establishes a cash buying period that starts around November 1st.
Officials said these rules have dramatically reduced walnut theft and illegal sales. But some say the rules could be even stricter, and Kinoshita says they need to close some loopholes to streamline the process for everyone.
Officials are also considering eliminating cash sales altogether, and switching to checks. Kinoshita says the gleaner will still get paid.
"That allows the sheriff and my office to have a paper trail for either criminal actions or administrative civil penalty actions."
"It's good to get those nuts out of the field because they do harbor pests for the following season," Visalia walnut grower Brian Yahnian said.
Yahnian says he allows one family to take what's left after his harvest, but he has had thieves steal from him before so he would support checks as a form of payment. He says theft of any kind is an ongoing battle for growers.
"It's always been an issue. It's nothing new but if things could be a little bit smoother, then we'd appreciate it."
Tulare County Supervisors will weigh the changes to the ordinance Tuesday night. They will be brought back for consideration again later this month.
Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at Lindsay City Hall.