An almond producer in New Jersey is seeking to recover $4.8 million in lost profits from mistreatment and illegal dumping of his almonds.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday, the family of Joseph G. Kostelanek alleges the almond farmer’s treatment of his bees has harmed their livelihood and left them “undisciplined, depressed, and exhausted.”
“His treatment of bees has damaged the economic well-being of the family, who have lost the ability to sell their produce, and it has caused the family to lose income,” attorney William P. Smith wrote in the complaint.
Kostelannek’s almond crop, worth about $1.2 million, has suffered losses, Smith wrote, and almond growers nationwide are seeing the “significant” impact of almond shortages.
The suit says almond growers in New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Montana, Colorado, and Washington have seen an average of a 15 percent drop in sales during the past year.
The complaint also cites a survey of almond growers that found some 40 percent said they were worried about the almond supply and demand.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages from Kostelsanek.
Kustelanenek, who is in his 70s, owns his family farm in the northern New Jersey town of Peekskill.
He said in an interview he does not know if the almond farmers are involved in the lawsuit or not.
He declined to say whether he is trying to get compensation for the mistreatment he says he has endured from almond farmers in his state.
Kastelank said he has been a beekeeper for more than 100 years, and he has a license to sell almonds.
His bees are trained to keep his produce in the ground, but he said he lost his job when the bees began laying eggs and laying them off to pollinate the trees and plants.
He said he began to think of the almond industry as an important part of his life because of the work he does.
He is also the author of three books on the almond crop.
Kirsten Kostelnk, Kostelmank’s sister, said the family has tried to work with the almond growers to address the issues.KOSTELANK: I don’t know why they’re going to have their heads out the window.
If they’re not gonna do anything about it, then we should get back to what we’re doing.
If we want to grow, we have to do the right thing.
And if they’re gonna do something about it we should all do it together.KASTELANAK: We want to do everything that we can to protect bees, and I think they’re right that we need to protect ourselves.
The bee crisis is a major issue in the agricultural industry.
A recent survey by the National Agricultural Pollution Information Center found almond growers lost an average $17 million in 2014.
The industry’s total costs to the U.S. economy totaled $5.4 trillion, according to the Center for Food Safety.