Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux Kicks Off the Emergency Tree Nut Theft Summit

Sophisticated Crime Rings Target Tree Nuts

In response to several sophisticated thefts of tree nuts, including almonds, walnuts, pistachios and cashews, the Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) and American Pistachio Growers (APG) held an Emergency Tree Nut Theft Summit in Visalia to discuss the matter.  In the past six months, more than twelve loads of tree nuts have been stolen in California totaling over several million dollars.  Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux claimed tree nut theft was more lucrative than narcotics right now.  This method of theft is known as “fictitious pick-up” and is becoming widespread.  The thieves have stolen identities of legitimate trucking companies, shipping companies, and /or brokers.  All of this information is online at DOT or company websites, even down to driver names on social media like Facebook!  In response to these thefts, WAPA and APG partnered to host an Emergency Tree Nut Theft Summit to hear from Law Enforcement officials, Risk Management Companies and Industry representatives on what has happened so far, and what you can do to protect yourself.  Then a discussion was held on what steps the industry will take next to address this new level of tree nut theft including the following action items:

  • Communicate to Legislators on gravity of crimes and pursue legislation in 2016
  • Encourage communication between law enforcement agencies, including the LA area
  • Develop and adopt guidelines for cargo theft prevention standards
  • Encourage communication between commodity groups and facilities
  • If red flag is raised contact ag crimes unit in area
  • Legality being researched on detaining trucks/drivers on property
  • Web-based system to tie in law enforcement and stakeholders on developments, change in legislation, cases, etc.
  • Database with information of fraudulent carriers
  • Address all levels in the tree nut process (growers, hullers, processors, shippers, brokers, etc.)
  • Increase in education/training with ag taskforce to work with facilities


A set of recommended practices to help prevent these types of thefts is being prepared and will be made available to the industry very shortly.   In the meantime, we encourage handlers to use the following minimum procedures:


  • All pick-up appoints must be made at least 24 hours in advance, and require:
    • Pick-up #
    • Driver’s name and D/L #
    • Trucking Company Name
  • Verify paperwork upon arrival
  • Take photographs of driver, truck and trailer
  • Take photographs of license plates and VIN#
  • Take thumbprint of driver
  • Post warnings at truck entrance
  • Install high definition surveillance cameras
  • Utilize GPS tracking devices


A more comprehensive list is being developed and vetted by law enforcement and will be distributed shortly.  For copies of the presentations and for more up to date information, please visit our website at www.agprocessors.org.  In the meantime, handlers must be proactive.  Assume there will be an attempt on your facility and prepare yourself!   

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Governor Signs Ag Overtime Bill

Ignoring the pleas of real farmworkers and the agricultural industry, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed AB 1066, the ag overtime legislation. This means that California will have the most stringent trigger of any state in the country for overtime for farmworkers, with 45 states having no overtime protection at all. The Governor signed this bill, supposedly to bring “equality to all workers”, yet taxi cab drivers, commercial fishermen, car salesmen, student nurses, computer programmers, and carnival workers all work without any overtime provisions whatsoever. The Governor signed this ag overtime bill in the same year that minimum wage legislation was also passed that will take California to the highest minimum wage as well as legislation forcing California to adopt additional greenhouse gas regulations for businesses in California. California is the only state in the country subject to such regulations. Today’s signing occurred despite numerous requests by the agricultural industry to meet with the Governor to discuss our concerns. The message is clear. California simply doesn’t care. These provisions will be phased in over the next few years ending with the overtime provisions to be triggered at 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.

In the Beginning As folks transitioned out of cotton and into tree nuts, the industry recognized the need to have active and effective representation at the local, state and national levels. Having enjoyed such effective representation over the years from the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, these folks yearned for the same representation in the tree nut processing industry. Issues such as air quality, food safety, labor, taxes, employee safety, and environmental concerns are at the forefront, and there is a significant need for an aggressive and dynamic Association to lead the industry into the next decade and beyond. In recognition of this, the Western Agricultural Processors Association was created in 2009. The Western Agricultural Processors Association (WAPA) shares staff and office space with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations taking advantage of a unique and opportunistic situation. WAPA is a voluntary dues organization with four shared staff and one dedicated staff person. Regulatory, legislative and legal issues fall under the purview of this new organization for the tree nut processing industry, which includes almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. From air quality permits to conditional use permits, from regulatory hearings on greenhouse gases to federal legislation on food safety, and from OSHA violations to assisting members on hazardous materials business plans, no issue is too small or too large for WAPA. WAPA has assembled one of the best and most capable staffs in the industry, and the results are already starting to show Membership The Western Agricultural Processors Association represents facilities involved in the processing of almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.Membership in the Association is classified as Regular memberships are limited to almond hullers or processors, pecan and pistachio processors, and walnut dehydrators and processors. Associate memberships are limited to any individual or business entity which is not engaged in agricultural processing, but which provides products or services directly related to the agricultural processing industry. WAPA Associate members include, but are not limited to, commodity brokers, accounting firms, and insurance brokers. Organization The Western Agricultural Processors Association is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by its membership.The Board consists of up to 15 members from throughout the state, and throughout the industry.The Board meets on a quarterly basis and conducts an Annual Meeting in the spring of each year.WAPA, in conjunction with the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, conducts a special training school for its members focused on safety.In combination with the school, the Association holds a Labor Management Seminar for all of the managers. Consulting Services In researching and considering the concept of forming a new organization, the Boards of Directors for the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations instructed staff to perform some of the work on a consulting basis first. The point was to determine the workload from consulting and to determine if there was sufficient interest. In November of 2007, the Association began conducting services under consulting contracts for such services as air quality permits and safety plans.The effort has been so successful that demand has progressed outside the tree nut industry into other agricultural processing facilities, including vegetable dehydration facilities, tomato processing facilities, and wheat mills, as well as cotton gins in Arizona.It was determined by the new Board of Directors of WAPA, that WAPA would maintain the consulting services to provide offsetting income to help with the expenses of getting the new organization up and running.Today, WAPA provides for a long list of satisfied clients in the agricultural processing industry, by providing critical services such as air quality, safety, food safety, and environmental issues (Hazardous Materials Business Plan, Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans, etc.).