Pistachio growers are getting $500,000 from the federal government for an industry re-building campaign.

The subsidy is being channeled through the Fresno-based Western Pistachio Association (WPA) for a “re-building effort in light of the recent, nationwide voluntary recall of pistachios due to potential Salmonella contamination.”

Thumbnail image for pistachios.jpgWPA represents U.S. pistachio growers in 16 states, including California where a 177,000-acre crop last year was valued at $557 million.

The $500,000 went to the WPA from California’s share of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $49 million specialty crop block grant program.  According to a mid-October report, California’s share of the $49 million was $16.315 million to the state Department of Food and Agriculture.

An early 2009 recall of pistachios and pistachio products by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, CA disrupted the industry and led to the recall of 664 specific products containing pistachios due to Salmonella contamination.

WPA was instrumental in limiting the damage to growers, however, by maintaining with the industry cooperative CAL PURE  “safe lists” of brands that were not subject to the pistachio recall.

In its project abstract, WPA said the industry “re-building effort will be a layered, multi-year, multi-target approach intended to unify the pistachio community and work collectively with key stakeholders and food safety experts toward the goal of restoring the public’s confidence in pistachios.”

Pistachio growers were not the only ones lined up for federal money. 

The California Pear Advisory Board wanted help for research to “determine an appropriate balance between storage and ripening.”  The California Grape & Tree Fruit League said it needed money for an on-line trade and regulatory database.  And Western Growers want some help paying for research into the impacts leafy green restrictions are having on wildlife and water quality.

And that’s but a few examples from only California.

The pistachio growers getting $500,000 from the federal government is not much in light of Friday’s projection that the deficit for this fiscal year will hit $1.42 trillion.