Influential Ag Firm Changes Name of Corporation to 'The Wonderful Company;' And Gov. Brown Wants to Change Tunnels to 'Pipes'

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Stewart Resnick.
  • Stewart Resnick.
Beverly Hills billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick, who are among the most influential people in California agribusiness and are the foremost advocates of Governor Jerry Brown's twin tunnels plan, have officially changed the name of their corporation to "The Wonderful Company." It had been called Roll Global.

In a press release this week, the Resnicks, known as the "Koch Brothers of California Water" for their hijacking of environmental politics in the state to benefit corporate agribusiness, gushed about the company's "accomplishments" and goals. 

“At The Wonderful Company, we are totally integrated in our approach to farming and distribution — we grow our produce, then harvest, package, and deliver to a store near you,” said Stewart Resnick, co-owner and president of The Wonderful Company. “We established this vertical structure to ensure that our quality standards are maintained at every step along the way from our orchards to your tables.”

The Resnick's announcement came a week after Brown said he plans to change the name of the massive tunnels he wants to build underneath the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to "pipes."

In addressing Sacramento business leaders at the 90th Annual "Sacramento Host Breakfast" on May 28, Governor Jerry Brown said that he is now going to call the delta tunnels, "pipes," because pipes are more popular.

"Instead of a tunnel, were going to call it a pipe. That seems to be more popular," he said to laughter from the crowd, according to the Sacramento Bee

In response, Restore the Delta (RTD), a group opposing the governor's massive twin tunnels plan, noted that Brown's reference to "pipes" and his entire talk touting the alleged "benefits" of the tunnels echoes the message created by an astroturf group called Californians for Water Security — a special interest campaign initiated by Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms.

In their press release this week, Lynda Resnick said, co-owner and vice chair of The Wonderful Company, said: “Consumers know us from our iconic Super Bowl commercials and viral marketing campaigns. Now we want the world to know the company behind some of America’s healthiest and most popular brands.”

The Resnicks then bragged about the "popularity" of their products. They claimed that Wonderful Pistachios is the number-one tree nut brand and one of the top-selling salty snacks in America; Wonderful Halos are the number-one mandarin orange in America; POM Wonderful is the number-one 100 percent pomegranate brand in America; FIJI Water is the number-one premium bottled water brand in America; Teleflora is the number-one floral delivery service through local florists; and JUSTIN Wine is the number-one Cabernet Sauvignon in California.

The Resnicks also touted their supposedly "rich heritage of investing in the communities in which its employees live and work, specifically California’s Central Valley and Fiji."

“Our company has always believed that success means doing well by doing good,” said Stewart Resnick. “That’s why we place such importance on our extensive community outreach programs, education and health initiatives and sustainability efforts. We are deeply committed to doing our part to build a better world and inspiring others to do the same.”

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The Resnicks are the largest orchard fruit and nut growers in the world and are two of the biggest contributors to candidates from both the Democratic and Republican parties every election season. Stewart Resnick contributed $150,000 last fall to help pass Jerry Brown's Proposition 1, the water bond.  

The well-connected Beverly Hills billionaire sits on the board of the Conservation International, a controversial corporate "environmental" group. In addition to promoting the construction of the tunnels, the Resnicks have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations in recent years.

Stewart Resnick became notorious for buying subsidized delta water and then selling it back to the public for a big profit as Delta fish and Central Valley salmon populations crashed in recent years. Lance Williams of the Center for Investigative Reporting in December 2009 accurately described Resnick as a "one-man environmental wrecking crew.” 

The Resnicks have faced increasing criticism from environmentalists, tribal leaders, fishermen, and many media outlets for increasing their acreage in water-thirsty almond trees during a record drought — while Brown has mandated than urban water districts throughout the state slash their water use by 25 percent.

At this year’s annual pistachio conference that Paramount Farms hosted, Stewart Resnick revealed his current efforts to expand pistachio, almond, and walnut acreage during a record drought.

During the conference, Resnick also gloated about the increase in pistachio acreage over the past ten years: 118 percent — even more than the 47 percent increase for almonds and 30 percent increase for walnuts. 

Resnick's increase in almond acreage is part of a statewide pattern. Growers have expanded their acreage in water-thirsty almonds by 150,000 acres during the current drought. 

So it appears that the Resnicks are rebranding their increasingly controversial corporation to make it sound, pardon the pun, "wonderful," just as Jerry Brown and the Resnicks want to rebrand their "tunnels" as "pipes" to make the project "more popular."

Regardless of the name change of the corporation, there is nothing "wonderful" about the Resnicks and their unsustainable corporate agribusiness practices, nor their attempts to to eviscerate minimal protections for Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon, striped bass, sandhill cranes and a host of other fish and wildlife species.

Here's my investigative piece on the Resnicks and their destructive impact upon California's environmental policies.  For Yasha Levine's exposé of the Resnicks, "A Journey Through Oligarch Valley," go here

Here's the full press release from the Resnicks.

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