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A Multibillion-Dollar Nut Business Legal Drama


Large aerial of almond farm

SURPRISE SALE?: A $2 billion California farming enterprise (yes, that’s billion and not million), or at least parts of it, is for sale. The problem is that the family is trying to sell land that it doesn’t own, according to allegations in an investigation by the San Joaquin Valley Sun.


The Assemi family has been one of the largest growers and processors of almonds and pistachios and has been in operation for 35 years. The family owns Maricopa Orchards and Touchstone Pistachio Co. Blueberries, cherries, raisins, walnuts, and citrus have also been part of the operations.


The San Joaquin Valley Sun reported that the family’s land covers 52,000 acres in the Fresno area. There are several layers of legal drama to this report including one son suing the father, the family’s $27 million judgement in a separate pistachio dispute, plus the claim that some of the farmland listed for sale is owned by third parties who didn’t give the family permission to sell.



 

WAIT, THERE’S MORE: One of the Assemi brothers, Darius, told the online publication that he owns that his family is not getting out of farming or selling all its agricultural holdings. The brief article did not detail how much of the operations that the family hopes to sell.



 

BANKRUPT ALMOND GROWER: In another sign of how challenging the economic landscape is for almond producers, Trinitas Farming filed for bankruptcy. The farm management company (operated by Trinitas Partners) is based in Oakdale, California.


The company’s almond property portfolio is worth less than two-thirds of the $188 million debt held, according to Agri Investor’s report. Low almond prices, high interest rates, and a tough export market are all weighing down the company’s efforts.


Almond returns have been in a steady freefall for the past decade with some growers deciding to leave the industry.



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