There’s a new subject of thievery in California, but it’s not any precious gem or super-powered microchip. It’s almonds.
Yes, the delicious nut in your M&Ms could very well be hot merchandise.
Why almonds? They’re actually one of the more expensive nuts. Selling at about $3 per pound, they are growing in popularity because of their high concentration of vitamin E and antioxidants and are believed to aid in the lowering of cholesterol and reducing the risk of heart disease.
But as odd as the case is, it’s no laughing matter to California farmers. Eighty percent of the world’s almonds come from California and it ranks in the state’s top five crops. It’s big business – $2.2 billion worth were grown in the 2004-05 season.
This lucrative market has seen a growing
trend of theft. California farmers report that the cumulative loss of all the robberies is around $1.5 million.It might not sound like a lot, but this number could be a large chunk out of farmers’ profits for the year.
Insurance groups and state law enforcement
have recommended to the farmers certain precautions that they should take to avoid more theft, such as installing motion detectors and hiring security guards. But since these aren’t state-owned operations – they’re individual, family-owned businesses – these are luxuries that just aren’t feasible. The truth of the matter is that farmers have small profit margins, and paying for these precautions would be difficult.
America’s farmers have been in dire straits for years. Of the two million farms that remain in the U.S., just over half a million are family-owned farms. Farmers can’t afford to stay on their land because factory farms are taking their business away.
Obviously, $1.5 million in stolen almonds aren’t what’s plaguing America’s family-owned farm industry; but the fact that the California farmers can’t afford to protect themselves against burglars is unacceptable. The state government and local law enforcement should pay for these security measures. If this was done, it might start the ball rolling on helping farm owners throughout the nation.Farmers have little help out there.
One of the biggest organizations is Farm Aid (similar to Live Aid). The organization’s mission statement is to bring farm owners together to resolve their over-looming problems, in addition to informing regular citizens about the agricultural woes. Their intent is not only to save the farming industry, but to also raise the quality of goods in the supermarkets, as factory farm products are of a much lesser quality and less safe.
Pennsylvania recently felt the support of Farm Aid, as the organization sponsored an awareness concert at the Tweeter Center in Camden, N.J. In attendance, and some of Farm Aid’s biggest celebrity supporters, were Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Dave Matthews.
U.S. farmers are in trouble, and the recent almond thefts in California only remind us of this ongoing situation. Their troubles are a forgotten cause, buried under issues that are deemed “more important.”
Yet considering that this is our food we’re talking about, not to help would be just nuts.