(June 15) With the California Pistachio Commission on the brink of dissolution, an appeals court has overturned a ruling that barred the commission from collecting assessments for generic advertising.

The June 8 ruling from a three-judge panel came three months after the Fresno-based commission announced the results of a referendum on whether to continue the commission. The vote, which comes every five years as outlined in the group’s bylaws, failed to receive the needed support to continue functions of the committee.

At the time, president Karen Reinecke said the voting was heavily influenced by an injunction halting the collection of grower funds for generic advertising.

Paramount Farms Inc., Los Angeles, in September 2005 filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of mandatory assessments.

“It appears the ball is back in Paramount’s court,” said Jay Van Rein, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Telephone calls to Paramount Farms were not returned.

Fresno attorney Ken Manock said a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a beef industry case weighed heavily on the appellate court’s ruling.

The high court found the federal beef order was valid and that there was sufficient government involvement to protect against claims of First Amendment violations. The Paramount Farms’ suit is based on claims the marketing order violates the company’s First Amendment rights.

What effect — if any — the ruling will have on millions of dollars of assessments accrued in an escrow account since the injunction was granted in December 2005, pending a final resolution of the case, is uncertain.