A Central Valley Farming Tycoon Seemed To Weather The Drought. But How Did He Do It?

Monday, February 5, 2018
By Maureen Cavanaugh, Michael Lipkin
Credit: Trent Davis Bailey for The California Sunday Magazine
Above: An irrigation ditch that runs parallel to a Wonderful pomegranate orchard in an undated photo.

Billionaire Stewart Resnick seemed almost impervious to California’s drought.

Resnick, the biggest farmer in the country, owns The Wonderful Company with his wife Lynda. They make Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice, Wonderful pistachios and almonds, and Halo mandarins. The Resnicks own about 180,000 acres of land in California and at one point were using more water than every Los Angeles home combined.

Journalist Mark Arax has been covering California’s water wars for decades but was initially baffled at how the Resnicks continued to see good yields, even after the drought essentially emptied a water bank they controlled.

Arax’s new profile of Stewart Resnick in California Sunday Magazine shows he kept his Kern County empire wet in part with an “off-the-books” pipeline. The Wonderful Company eventually cut back tens of thousands of acres of crops.

Arax joined KPBS Midday Edition on Monday with more about Stewart Resnick and how he built a “kingdom from dust.”