Agriculture

Agriculture
4:44 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

2014 Was A Rough Year for California's Farmers and Ranchers

file photo
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California's farmers and ranchers have endured a challenging 2014. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg reports on how they're weathering the drought.

Paula Getzelman says recent rain brings a deep sigh of relief. She and her husband run Tre Gatti Vineyards in Monterey County. 

Getzelman: "We were extremely nervous in 2014. The harvest was a real nail biter."

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Drought
5:27 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

California Needs 11 Trillion Gallons Of Water To End Drought

Water scientist Jay Famiglietti
Credit UC Irvine

California needs one and a half times the maximum volume of water in Lake Mead, the largest US reservoir, to end its drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, NASA scientists released the finding today.

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Environment
5:02 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Storms And Muddy Delta Water Lead To Voluntary Pumping Cutback

The Delta Mendota Canal is used to transport water from the Delta to Central Valley Project customers in the San Joaquin Valley.
Credit U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Mid-Pacific Region

The recent storms that have hit northern and Central California have much brought needed rain and snow to the state. But they also created a new problem for the operators of the massive pumps in the Delta that supply users in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California - too much water. 

Ara Azhderian is with the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority in Los Banos. 

Azhderian: "With all that water comes a whole lot of mud and trash and debris as well, so a little too much of a good thing too fast."

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Environment
11:20 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Water Levels In California's Reservoirs Continue To Drop

Pine Flat Lake east of Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The water in some of California’s major reservoirs is nearing historic lows. The Department of Water Resources says statewide, all reservoirs are currently holding about 57 percent of their historic norms.

But levels are dropping significantly in some of the major reservoirs. Maury Roos, is the Chief Hydrologist with DWR. He says the Lake Oroville Reservoir is near the lowest level it’s ever been.

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The Salt
8:49 am
Thu October 23, 2014

Why California's Drought-Stressed Fruit May Be Better For You

These pomegranates are about an inch smaller than the typical size, but they're packed with antioxidants.
Courtesy of Tiziana Centofanti

Originally published on Mon October 27, 2014 10:36 am

California's severe drought is putting stress on everyone these days: the residents whose wells are running dry; the farmers forced to experiment with growing their produce with much less water; and of course, the thirsty fruits and vegetables themselves.

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Drought
5:13 pm
Tue October 21, 2014

California Tomato Growers Expect Record Year Despite Drought

California tomatoes are loaded into a processing plant. (file photo)
Credit California Tomato Growers Association

The drought has California farmers leaving thousands of acres fallow this year. But growers still chose to plant processing tomatoes. And as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, they’re expected to have a record year.

About 95 percent of the nation’s processed tomatoes come from California. Last year, about 12 million tons were produced. Some farmers this year were skeptical they could grow the 14 million tons contracted for by the state’s processors.

But Mike Montna with the California Tomato Growers Association says they hit that mark.

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Science
5:37 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

NASA Spacecraft Will Help California Address Drought and Floods

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive spacecraft is slowly lowered into place at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in preparation for shipping to California's Vandenberg Air Force Base on October 15th.
Credit NASA / JPL-Caltech

Scientists may soon have a more accurate way to predict the extent and severity of droughts, floods and even the amount of food California can produce. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, a NASA spacecraft getting set to launch will measure soil moisture, one of the most important components of the earth’s water cycle.

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Government & Politics
5:43 pm
Wed October 15, 2014

California Supreme Court Declines To Hear High Speed Rail Case

file photo
Credit High Speed Rail Authority

The California Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of two lawsuits that challenged the way California plans to pay for High Speed Rail. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the decision paves the way for the project to move forward.

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Business & Economy
8:45 pm
Mon October 13, 2014

Fits and Starts: Central Valley Economy Beginning To Bounce Back

Tom Barcellos, owner and operator of T-Bar Dairy stands in front of his Holstein herd in Porterville, Calif. (Tulare County)
Julia Mitric Capital Public Radio

As brutal as the Central Valley economy has fared over the last several years, it’s starting to bounce back. Our series “Fits and Starts” on California’s uneven economic recovery continues with a look at the Central Valley.  

The collapse of the housing market devastated cities like Stockton and Modesto. But the Central Valley’s agriculture industry weathered The Great Recession just fine. It even saw record growth, with one painful exception: dairy.

“It was a bloodbath,” says Tom Barcellos, who owns T-Bar Dairy in Porterville.

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Election 2014
1:17 pm
Tue October 7, 2014

Voters To Decide Fate of $7.5 Billion Water Bond

The site of the proposed new dam at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River, near the back of Millerton Lake.
Credit US Bureau of Reclamation

On November 4th, California voters will decide the fate of a $7.5 billion bond intended to improve the state’s water system. Proposition 1 is one of the most closely watched measures on the ballot. Proponents of the bond say it would provide safe and reliable water, opponents say it wrongly focuses on building more dams. And as Capital Public Radio’s Amy Quinton reports, the bond has divided some environmental groups.

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Environment
6:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Brown Signs Historic Groundwater Legislation

California now has its first laws regulating the use of groundwater. Governor Jerry Brown signed the package of legislation today.
Office of Governor Jerry Brown

It’s going to become more difficult to drill a well in California. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a package of groundwater legislation signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown.

The regulations will require local agencies to create and implement groundwater management plans within five years and meet groundwater sustainability levels within 20 years. Brown says the laws, combined with the Legislature's bi-partisan approval of a water bond slated for the November ballot, represent a giant step forward toward securing the state’s water supply.

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Environment
12:49 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Valley Farmers Worried About New Groundwater Regulations

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

California Governor Jerry Brown made history Tuesday morning when he signed into law three bills that for the first time will regulate groundwater in the state. California had been the only state in the nation that did not regulate groundwater at the state level.

While many environmental groups praised the move, a number of valley agriculture interests opposed the new regulations. This week on Valley Edition, we talked to Joel Nelson of the Exeter-based group California Citrus Mutual about his concerns about the new laws. 

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Drought
5:15 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Forecasters Say Chances Are El Niño Won't End California's Drought

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California.
Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center analysis shows a 60-to-65 percent chance of the warm ocean condition known as El Niño developing this fall and winter. The report also indicates a strong El Niño is not expected and a weak event is likely.

Michelle Mead is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

She says a weak El Niño won't end the California drought. 

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Drought
9:48 am
Thu August 28, 2014

California Senate Passes Groundwater Management Plan

The California Senate has approved a bill that would establish a groundwater management plan for the state.
Credit California Department of Water Resources

With days to go before the end of the legislative session, the California Senate passed a groundwater management plan Wednesday. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Forty percent of California’s water comes from groundwater, yet the state has never had a plan to manage it. That could soon change if a measure approved in the Senate makes it through the rest of the legislative process.

The bill would require local governments to set up groundwater management agencies. The agencies would have five years to implement a management plan.

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Government & Politics
6:14 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

California Bill Would Tackle Laborers' Working Conditions

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Many California agricultural workers aren’t employed directly by farmers, but by labor contractors. Now a new bill in the California legislature would bring about more protections for those workers, but as FM89’s Kerry Klein reports, it’s also the source of controversy.

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Government & Politics
1:00 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Water Bond Deal Draws Rare Unity At Capitol

Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers take a victory lap through the state Capitol Wednesday night after the Legislature passed a $7.5 billion water bond proposal for the November ballot.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The saying goes that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. But a California Legislature that rarely shies away from a fight found itself in near unanimous agreement last night on a new water bond to replace the $11 billion measure on the November ballot. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

It was an issue that held the Capitol in suspense day after day. A deal was in doubt even into yesterday afternoon and a key election deadline loomed at midnight. But the end was surprisingly anticlimactic.

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Government & Politics
11:02 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Storage, Tunnels Clog Water Bond Talks As Deadline Nears

Mary Wells (left), her daughter (center) and her granddaughter (right) - the 5th, 6th and 7th generations of the family to live on the family's Colusa County ranch.
Ben Adler Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown and California lawmakers are already living on borrowed time as they negotiate a measure to replace the $11 billion water bond on the November ballot. The official deadline under state law passed six weeks ago. Any deal would have to waive election laws, and be signed by the end of this week. But two huge sticking points are clogging up the water talks, as Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.

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Commentary
1:55 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Joe Mathews: We Are All Dairy Cows Now

Dairy cows in Riverdale (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

I am a California dairy cow.  Mmmm—oo.

Surprised to hear from me? In normal times, I wouldn’t be inclined to cooperate with the anthropomorphic scheme of a writer desperate for a mid-summer column.

But today so much is being said about agriculture here in the Central Valley, and dairies in particular, that I felt the need to—if you’ll pardon the pun—milk the moment. Too many of you city slickers have the wrong impression of the cows you pass along the 5 or the 99.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

California Governor Jerry Brown has broken his silence on water bond talks. He’s opposing the $11 billion measure currently on the November ballot and proposing a $6 billion bond instead.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown wants to scrap the 11 billion dollar water bond scheduled for California’s November ballot and replace it with a smaller proposal of his own. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.
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Six billion dollars. That’s what the governor says he’s willing to spend. Not 11, like the existing bond; not eight or nine billion, like some of the proposals floating around the Legislature. Six billion. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Brown put forth an argument of fiscal prudence for a state already 30 billion dollars in debt.

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Agriculture
5:09 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

'Fig Fest' Celebrates A Tasty Valley Tradition

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and figs have a long history together. Nearly 100 years ago,  real estate developer J.C. Forkner purchased thousands of acres of hardpan soil miles north of the city of Fresno. 

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