On September 9, 2014, the San Joaquin County Purchase and Sale of Walnuts Ordinance 0-4453 became effective. This ordinance specifies the requirements for providing proof of ownership certificates when selling walnuts and when non-processing buyers may purchase walnuts.
The following outlines general requirements of the ordinance:
Growers: Growers of over 2,000 pounds of English walnuts are exempt from the ordinance unless they allow gleaners to remove walnuts after harvest for sale. If a grower allows gleaning, the grower must obtain numbered proof of ownership certificates from the San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office to provide to the gleaners. Gleaners will not be able to sell walnuts without these certificates. Proof of ownership is not required if gleaned walnuts are not entering into commerce.
Gleaners: If gleaners gather walnuts to sell, they will be required to obtain a San Joaquin County Proof of Ownership Certificate from the grower who is allowing them to glean. This form must be presented to the buyer at the time of sale. Failure to provide the approved Proof of Ownership Certificate is a violation of the ordinance and may be punishable by an administrative action of up to $1000.
Small Growers: Small growers are those who produce fewer than 2000 pounds of walnuts per year. These growers must show proof of ownership of their walnuts at time of sale. The Agricultural Commissioner’s office will provide a Small Growers Certificate upon request at no cost to the grower. Other acceptable forms of proof of ownership would be a pesticide use permit, certified producer certificate, or organic registration listing walnuts as a crop.
Non-Processing Buyers: Non-processing buyers are typically cash buyers who set up at non-permanent locations where no processing occurs, also referred to as roadside buyers. These buyers may only purchase walnuts during the walnut buying period. The walnut buying period will be determined by the Agricultural Commissioner after consultation with industry and will begin after the end of harvest season and last until April 30 of the following year. The official date will be published in a press release and posted on the County website.
Non-processing buyers may only buy quantities of nuts of less than 2,000 pounds if they are accompanied by a Proof of Ownership Certificate when buying from non-growers or gleaners. If buying from small growers, the walnuts must be accompanied by a small grower certificate, certified producer certificate, pesticide permit, organic registration or other legal documentation showing ownership of the walnuts that were purchased.
Non-processing buyers must keep one copy of all proof of ownership certificates and small grower certificates or other approved forms of ownership for a period of two years. The original portion of the certificates must be provided to the buyer at the time of transfer. It is the responsibility of the buyer to assure that all Proof of Ownership and Small Grower Certificates are complete.
Non-processing buyers must also register with the agricultural commissioner’s office prior to the walnut buying period and must possess a valid marketing license, a sealed scale, and photo identification at the time of registration. Failure to meet the requirements of the ordinance may be punishable by administrative action of up to $1,000 per violation.
Processors: If buying lots of nuts weighing less than 2,000 pounds, processors must also collect proof of ownership for any nuts being purchased. If processors are buying walnuts form non-processing buyers, they must also retain the originals of any form of proof of ownership accompanying walnuts being purchased. These records must be retained for two years. It is the processor’s responsibility to assure that all Proof of Ownership and Small Grower Certificates are complete.
If processors buy walnuts at a location other than their processing facility, they must register with the Agricultural Commissioner. The rules for non-processing buyers will apply to these locations.
Conclusion: To order Proof of Ownership Certificates or Small Grower Certificates, call the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at 209-953-6000. Certificates will be prepared by county staff at no cost. To register with the Agricultural Commissioner, it is required to visit the Agricultural Commissioner’s office at 2101 East Earhart Avenue, Suite 100, in Stockton, California. If there are any questions regarding the Purchase and Sale of Walnuts Ordinance, please call Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Omar Luna.