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Pistachio industry ready for level playing field

A new regulation will mandate foreign pistachios be held to the same minimum grade and quality standards currently required only for domestic product.

The pistachio industry is now in the final stage of a multi-year effort to pass Federal Regulation, Section 608e (known as Section 8e). This will legally mandate all foreign pistachios be held to the same minimum grade and quality standards currently required only for domestic product. A notice in the Federal Register will be published that will commence a 60-day comment period on this Regulation, paving the way for final implementation to level the playing field for all pistachios sold in the U.S.

When California pistachio growers approved the Federal Marketing Order for Pistachios (FMO) in 2003, Arizona and New Mexico growers were not included. Both U.S. law and World Trade Organization rules require all U.S. production to be in compliance with domestic standards in order for the imported crop to be inspected, so omission of these states excluded imported pistachios from FMO regulations.

Former Chairman of American Pistachio Growers, Brian Blackwell, Blackwell Farming stated, “We produce a safe, high quality product and want to insure that our competitors are producing at the same level as our domestic growers.” Mr. Blackwell spent considerable time over the last three years meeting with growers in Arizona and New Mexico to insure their backing of the proposed regulation. The American Pistachio Growers (APG) organization has long worked with the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA officials towards implementation of this goal.

Passage of Section 8e will remedy the inequity in the current law and subject all pistachios to the same standards. Long-term efforts of WPA/APG have contributed substantially to this positive result, and we firmly believe we are close to ensuring American consumers receive only the highest quality pistachios.

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