Thwarting walnut thefts only part of solution
It is no coincidence that during harvest season you see more and more roadside stands poke up around the county. Many of those stands, but not all, are selling farm products that they simply stole.
The theft of ag commodities has been a longtime problem. Last week, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors took a giant step forward in trying to put a dent into the theft of walnuts, but the measure the board approved needs to be expanded to many other commodities as well.
The supervisors amended an ordinance pertaining to the theft of nuts by requiring those found in possession of more than 25 pounds of walnuts will have to show documentation as to where the nuts came from. That documentation has to come from the grower. The goal is to deter those thieves from stopping by a walnut grove, collecting as many nuts as possible, then driving off to sell them locally or out of the area.
We would like to see the same rules applied to many other commodities, especially oranges that are just as easy to pick and drive off with as walnuts.
There are other crops that need protection. For years, growers of watermelons have planted that crop off of roadways and to the best of the grower’s ability, out of sight. The tasty melon is popular with thieves. The same is true for honeydews and cantaloupes.
Tree fruit is another popular commodity with thieves, but that crop has dwindled so much there is not much fruit to steal in the county any longer.
Stealing from a grower is no different than stealing from a store, yet there are those who find it almost a right. That crop, while right out in plain sight, may be inviting, it is the property of someone else who has devoted countless hours, resources and money to see grow to harvest. They deserve to be able to harvest that crop without the fear of someone stealing it.