California pistachio growers are finding themselves the unexpected beneficiaries of U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.
A U.S. ban on Iranian pistachios went into effect on Wednesday, as the Obama administration ratchets up economic pressure on Iran to open its nuclear facilities to international inspection. President Obama signed the ban on July 1.
It's good news for American pistachio farmers, who have long vied with Iran for dominance in the U.S.'s $700-million domestic market, as well as overseas. And it's particularly welcome for Golden State farmers, who are in the midst of harvest season. More than 98% of U.S. pistachios come from California, which produces about 375 million pounds annually; the bulk of that production comes from the San Joaquin Valley.
In recent years, the U.S. has surpassed Iran as the world's largest grower. California farmers have boosted their yields and nearly doubled the acreage of their groves, while farmers in Iran have seen their yields cut by poor weather.