Agriculture

State Water Project Estimates Most Deliveries Since Drought's Start

Mar 17, 2016
CA Dept Water Resources

Cities and farmers who rely on the State Water Project will receive the most water they’ve received since 2012. The California Department of Water Resources announced today that it plans to meet 45 percent of requests for deliveries.

It’s a major increase from December, when the state planned to fulfill only 10 percent of requests. Paul Wenger with the California Farm Bureau says it is welcome news. But he and other farmers are hoping the federal Central Valley Project will be able to meet requests.

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series

A new drought relief bill from Senator Dianne Feinstein is getting mixed reviews in the Valley, but at least one water expert says it's a a sign of progress. 

The long-awaited Senate bill provides for a lot of things, including funding for like desalination and more water storage. But the one thing it doesn’t do is mandate more pumping of water out of the Delta to store in places like San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos.  

Report: Pesticide Mixtures May Increase Health Risks But Are Unregulated

Feb 18, 2016
Department of Pesticide Regulation - Facebook

A new UCLA report says the California Department of Pesticide Regulation fails to regulate pesticide mixtures adequately. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the study finds the mixtures may increase health risks.

The study looked at three fumigants commonly applied together in California. It found a "reasonable likelihood" the three can interact to increase health risks to farm workers and people who live near fields or orchards.

Group Hopes To Change Fresno's Food Economy

Feb 16, 2016
Ali Budner

Hundreds of different food crops are raised in and around Fresno County. But many of those who live and work nearby have little access to the fruits of their own landscape. In fact, more people go hungry here in the Fresno metropolitan area than almost anywhere else in the entire nation. It’s this not-so-modest problem that Food Commons Fresno wants to solve — starting with their Community Supported Agriculture (or CSA) brand, OOOOBY.

"OOOOBY! Get used to saying it. OOOOBY, Out Of Our Own Backyards…."

San Joaquin River
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio / White Ash Broadcasting

Despite promises that El Nino storms will not bring an end to California's drought, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday that it will begin releasing more water into the San Joaquin River. The release is part of a program to restore the river's long-extinct salmon population on a 60-mile stretch of the channel that is typically dry.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio / White Ash Broadcasting

The World Ag Expo began its three day run in Tulare Today/Tuesday. FM89's Ezra David Romero reports this year’s show is as much about software as it is farm equipment.

There are plenty of new tractors this year at the World Ag Expo. But it's not companies like John Deere and Caterpillar stealing the limelight. It’s rather groups that make products that fit in the palm of a hand. Marisa Carpenter is a spokesman for the expo.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Drive anywhere in Central California and you’ll see fields of almonds.  Some people wonder if the growth of the almond industry is sustainable. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the price of the nut just may have met a slippery slope.

  

Courtesy of Brett Lebin

California farmers are known for producing some of the finest fruits, vegetables and nuts in the world. But what if big agriculture here also included marijuana? If the legalization of recreational pot makes it onto the November  2016 ballot and passes, local growers might have a new crop to harvest.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports that some Central Valley farmers are already eyeing just that possibility. 

A few years ago Los Banos Farmer Cannon Michael discovered a one-acre illegal marijuana grow on his land.

NASA Study: California Drought Doubles Idle Farmland Acres

Oct 29, 2015
NASA

Farmers in California's Central Valley have left more than one million acres of agricultural land idle all year long. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, that’s more than double the amount before the drought.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Fresno Tuesday singing the praises of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership and its potential positive impact on farms in the valley. 

Secretary Vilsack visit was to highlight the potential benefits of opening foreign markets to local agricultural products.

Vilsack says the TPP not only opens up the market for valley farmers by lowering foreign trade restrictions, build access to millions of new consumers, and level the playing field to make US produce more competitive.

Westlands Water District website

The Westlands Water District has reached an agreement with the federal government in a decades-long dispute over who is responsible for water runoff from westside growers’ fields. In the deal, Westlands will assume responsibility for managing the wastewater, which is often laced with toxic chemicals like selenium from the soil. Westlands will also agree to retire at least 100,000 acres of farmland. The water district estimates that a federally-run cleanup plan would have cost the government around $3.5 billion. It’s unclear how much the district will spend on the drainage solution.  

California Drought: NASA Says Land Sinking Faster In San Joaquin Valley

Aug 19, 2015
Credit www.usbr.gov

A new report from NASA shows the San Joaquin Valley is sinking much faster than ever before. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

With reduced surface water available because of the drought, more groundwater is pumped.

As the underground aquifers are tapped, land surfaces sink. 

While subsidence in California isn't new, the report from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the rate has accelerated.

Drought Causing $2.7 Billion Economic Hit To California

Aug 18, 2015
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

A new UC Davis study projects the fourth year of drought in California will cost the overall economy two-point-seven billion dollars. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the study’s authors say agriculture remains remarkably resilient despite the drought.

The report finds the agricultural sector will be hit hardest by the drought, losing nearly two billion dollars and more than 10,000 jobs. Farmers will also take 500,000 acres out of production this year. But the report finds agriculture is still fairly robust. 

Funding Targets Farmworkers Hurt By The Drought

Jul 27, 2015
CA Dept of Water Resources

New state and federal funding will provide relief for farmworkers hurt by California's drought. The US Department of Labor is providing 18 million dollars, and the state is providing 7.5 million dollars. Lesley McClurg in Sacramento has more.

An estimated 18,000 people have lost their jobs because of the drought -- most of them in the Central Valley.

Marco Lizarrga: "What we call the ground zero of the drought. Mendotta and Firebaugh and those little farm towns that are the sources of the cantaloupes and the sources of other products have been heavily impacted."

Office of Rep. David Valadao

Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act, which promises to bring more water to valley farmers. Written by Hanford Republican David Valadao, and co-sponsored by Fresno Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, the bill would change the way the government manages water in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta and threatened species. It would also make major changes to the plan to restore the San Joaquin River. 

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