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US (CA): Horizon Nut Company expansion in the works

California produces 40 percent of the world's pistachios. Here in the Valley, one grower-owned company is expanding to keep up with the increasing demand.

Horizon Nut Company is set to bring hundreds of jobs to Fresno County when its new processing facility is complete, at Jerrold and Shaw Avenues, southwest of Firebaugh.

The land near Firebaugh was once barren, but now dirt is being moved to make way for a new pistachio processing facility for Horizon Nut Company. Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson said, "This is exciting because this is really bringing an industry that hasn't been here."

Larson advocated to save the land and to bring business to the area. He was among dozens that gathered to celebrate the new chapter for this land.

"This is part of the Broadview Water District," said Larson. This land was abandoned and almost sold out of Fresno County and through our efforts at the board of supervisors and along with a couple of smart attorneys we saved it."

Leaders say unemployment in the Firebaugh-Mendota area hovers around 40 percent, but this new hulling and processing facility will bring 300 positions. Jobs much needed since the drought has hit the west side particularly hard.

"There's been a lot of issues on the west side, drought," said Ted Sheely. "There's not good news out there, so I can say this is good news for our growers."

Ted Sheely with Horizon Nut Company says his growers have been waiting for years to build the facility. Sheely says half the pistachio acreage in the state is still growing and there's a lot more to come.

"To handle what we are going to need in give years from now we have to have more capacity," said Sheely.

The 1,200 acre site will more than double the company's processing capacity to 100 million pounds of pistachios a year.

Construction is expected to last about a year. Leaders say once built, the Horizon Nut Company facility will help the industry grow not only locally, but globally.

Source: abc30.com

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