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- Despite the driest year in California history and a Delta smelt courtroom decision, the pistachio industry is eyeing a billion-pound crop expected to be in place by 2020.
Most of the news at the 2014 Annual Pistachio Conference hosted by Paramount Farms sounded as “Wonderful” as the brand hawked by the farming giant.
But some of it didn’t match that term, including talk of the driest year in California history and word of a courtroom setback issued the same day that 600 people gathered in Visalia to hear Paramount’s annual report and mark the 20th anniversary of the company’s partnership with 580 growers.
It was at the conference that participants learned that federal appeals court in San Francisco upheld the science used in fish protection plans that often cut back water pumping for San Joaquin Valley farmers.
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A panel of Paramount representatives said it will take some time to pore through the 160-page ruling and to determine what effect the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision will have. The ruling overturned a lower court ruling that had held that protections for delta smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta were not supported by science.
Some say the decision won't have any practical effect on water flows since protections for the smelt were kept in place while the lower court ruling was appealed.
The news failed to totally dampen what was mostly an upbeat conference that spotlighted continuing financial success for the industry at the same time that it nears a billion-pound crop that is expected to be in place by 2020.
And even talk of the drought was tempered by assurances that Paramount has long been engaged in research on water use and pistachio trees can weather drought conditions better than trees that produce other nuts.
Paramount has thrived, said Andrew Anzlaldo, director of grower relations, by “building demand ahead of supply” to maintain profitable grower prices. Both he and Stewart Resnick, Paramount Farms president, said that has been made possible because the company has a 60 percent share of the pistachio market.
It is hoping to increase that share to 70 percent, further enabling it to fund continued marketing outreach worldwide.
“Our focus is to keep that high level return constant in the future,” Resnick said.