from Wealth Cycles:
The history of the U.S. Wild West frontier is rich with tales of gunslingers and cattle rustlers. Even though it seems like a crime of yesteryear, in fact incidents of cattle rustling have spiked in recent years, right along with the price of beef. But have you heard of pistachio and maple syrup rustling? In a nation relatively rich and well-fed, what is behind the rise in agricultural crime? Could the food insecurity that has sparked political turmoil in other parts of the world become a problem for the United States?
High-value nuts have long been a target of thieves in the orchards of California’s Central Valley and north-state regions. The trend has grown as more and more farmers have converted less-lucrative crops into almonds, walnuts and pistachios, in response to skyrocketing demand from Asia. A 2006 report out of the rural community of Ripon, California, describes the theft of 88,000 pounds of almonds, valued then at $260,000. Officials in that year estimated agriculture thefts statewide at some $1.5 million, a number that has risen significantly since. “For growers, it could be a very large portion of the overall profit margin for the year,” Cliff Emery of the rural agriculture crime task force Action Project told The New York Times.
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