Agriculture

Environment
12:36 pm
Tue April 29, 2014

Valley Farmers, Researchers Cope With Historic Drought

A mural in the west side town of Mendota, Calif., where the affects of the drought are expected to hit hard this summer.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

May is almost here, and that means we’re entering the peak of the growing season – those sunny days and warm temperatures that make the San Joaquin Valley the most productive ag region in the world. But in this drought year, everything is a little different.

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Drought
4:59 pm
Fri April 25, 2014

Governor Brown Issues New Executive Order In Reponse To Drought

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown’s latest executive order to combat the drought has some aid for farmers, fish and firefighters – and some requests for all Californians.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Business & Economy
4:11 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Kern County Officials Hope To Lure Embattled Sriracha Factory

The hot sauce company Huy Fong Foods was founded in 1980 in Los Angeles.

Back in 2010, the city of Irwindale was so excited to lure the factory that makes Sriracha hot sauce to their area, they helped finance the $40 million project.

But earlier this month that same city council designated this once desired business as a public nuisance, over complaints from residents about spicy odors and burning eyes.

Sriracha sauce creator David Tran is now being peppered with offers to relocate his plant to other states and counties, including the San Joaquin Valley. The move could create hundreds of jobs and bolster the local economy.

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Agriculture
9:34 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Farmer Suicides Cast Shadow Over U.S. Agriculture

America’s farmers are dying. But it’s not just because they’re aging. In 1978 the average age of the American farmer was 50, today it’s around 58. But there’s another even more troubling issue facing those who grow our food -  farmers taking their own lives.

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The Salt
12:26 am
Tue April 22, 2014

Fields And Farm Jobs Dry Up With California's Worsening Drought

Recent rains kept Suzanne and Mike Collins' orange grove alive, but the rainy season is ending. If they don't get federal irrigation water by this summer, their trees will start dying.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 3:47 pm

On a recent afternoon on the main drag of Orange Cove, Calif., about a dozen farm workers gather on the sidewalk in front of a mini-mart.

One man sits on a milk crate sipping a beer. A few others scratch some lotto tickets. Salvador Perez paces back and forth with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans.

If there is no water, there's no work, he says in Spanish.

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Around the Nation
2:00 pm
Sun April 20, 2014

California's Drought Ripples Through Businesses, Then To Schools

Cannon Michael's farm grows tomatoes, melons and onions, among other crops. This year, however, Michael will have to fallow one-fifth of the land due to the drought
Thomas Dreisbach NPR

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 8:16 am

Cannon Michael runs an 11,000-acre farm in California's Central Valley. His family has been farming in the state for six generations.

Michael's multimillion-dollar operation usually provides a wealth of crops including tomatoes, onions and melons. But recently, he's pretty pessimistic about work.

"It is going to be a year that's probably, at best, maybe break even. Or maybe lose some money," Michael tells NPR's Arun Rath.

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Environment
4:07 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Spring Rain And Snow Mean Increased Water Allocations

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Rain and snow may not have pushed California out of its drought, but the late season precipitation will mean a little more water for State Water Project users. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, there

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Environment
1:23 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Unlikely Partnerships Spring From California Water Crisis

As California farms struggle amid intense drought, farmers are pressing the federal government to help solve a water crisis.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 4:13 pm

At a recent rally in Fresno County, Calif., farmers in plaid shirts stood side by side with migrant farmworkers in ball caps, holding signs that read "sin agua, no futuro" and "no water, no food." Fresno is the top agriculture-producing county in the U.S., with more than $6 billion in annual sales.

Protesters argued that farms could go out of business without more water, and there would be mass layoffs. That rhetoric may be familiar, but the two groups' alliance is decidedly unusual.

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Drought
10:24 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Drought Operation Plan For Two Water Projects Released

The San Luis Canal carries water to farms and wildlife areas near Los Banos (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California and federal agencies released a plan Wednesday about how they’ll operate the state and federal water projects during the drought. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the plan does not change water allocations.

The operations plan provides a guideline of how the two water systems will deal with the drought from now until November.  It looks at two different scenarios. One assumes much drier conditions than the other. Maria Rea with the National Marine Fisheries Service says under both scenarios winter-run Chinook salmon are at risk.

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Agriculture
10:14 am
Mon March 31, 2014

California Bill Would Mandate Paid Rest Breaks for Farm Workers

file photo
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Paid rest breaks would become mandatory for farm workers and other outdoor workers under a bill now in the California legislature. The measure is an attempt to prevent heat related illnesses. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

People who work outdoors are susceptible to dizziness, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Nicole Marquez with the advocacy group Worksafe says farm workers are commonly paid based on how much they pick.

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Water
7:01 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

PPIC Survey: Support For California Water Bond Increases

The San Luis Canal in Merced County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

According to a new survey, most Californians now support an $11 billion water bond measure on the November ballot. The support levels increase for water bond proposals at lesser amounts. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

A year ago, only 44 percent of California adults and 42 percent of likely voters supported the water bond measure. Now the percentages are 60 percent for adults and half of likely voters. Mark Baldasarre is with the Public Policy Institute of California, which conducted the poll.

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Books
7:13 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

New Biography Paints Complex Picture Of Cesar Chavez

Miriam Pawel's new book "The Crusades of Cesar Chavez"

Charismatic,  controversial, courageous and complicated. Those are just a few words that could sum up the life of the late civil rights leader and farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. Now over 20 years after his death, a new biography seeks to provide fresh insight into a man who is an inspiration for millions. The book is called “The Crusades of Cesar Chavez” by Miriam Pawel, who joined us on Valley Edition to talk about Chavez the man and Chavez the myth. 

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Education
1:32 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Teachers, Students Rally To 'Save FFA' Amid Proposed Funding Changes

FFA students held at rally at the state Capitol last week to support funding for FFA programs
Credit Twitter / Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman / https://twitter.com/AsmSusanEggman/

Go to a rural high school in Central California, and one of the most popular extra-curricular programs will be FFA – Future Farmers of America. But now the people who run those programs say their future is threatened in Governor Brown’s new budget.

It’s all part of a big change to the way school districts get their money from Sacramento – the Local Control Funding Formula. In general it’s been good news for schools up and down the valley, as it redirects more money to districts with high populations of low-income families, English learners and foster youth.

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Government & Politics
9:40 am
Tue March 25, 2014

Here And Gone: Fight Over Fresno's Cesar Chavez Boulevard Remains Fresh, 20 Years Later

Cesar Chavez
Credit Cesar Chavez Foundation

In October of 1993, the Fresno City Council voted to rename three city streets - Kings Canyon, Ventura and California - in honor of the late farm labor activist Cesar Chavez. The move was part of a campaign by local Latino groups who sought to honor the UFW founder, who had died earlier that year. 

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Environment
6:45 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Voices Of The Drought: Mendota Mayor Prepares For The Worst

This is Robert Silva's second stint as the Mayor of Mendota.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 California is in the midst of one of the driest years on record and with over a third of the Central Valley’s jobs tied to agriculture and hundreds of thousands of acres going fallow leaders in the region are expecting ag jobs to be few and far between. FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero reports from one west side Valley town that is already feeling the pinch.

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Education
8:25 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

California Students Rally At Capitol For Agricultural Education Funding

Students gather at the Capitol Wednesday for Ag Day in this photo from the Twitter account of Assemblymember Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton.
Credit Twitter / Asm. Susan Talamantes Eggman / https://twitter.com/AsmSusanEggman/

As part of the annual “Ag Day” celebration at the state Capitol, Future Farmers of America students from around California rallied Wednesday in support of agricultural education programs. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

With the state suffering through its worst ever drought, Jim Aschwanden with the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, says only well trained Ag workers will be able to meet the industry’s future challenges.

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Drought
7:08 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Congressional Hearing On California Water Visits Fresno

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on California's drought in Fresno.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The House Natural Resources Committee took up the issue of water for San Joaquin Valley farmers today before a packed gallery at Fresno City Hall. 

The Republican-led committee heard testimony from local growers and water managers on both short and long-term responses to California's drought and cuts to agricultural water deliveries south of the Delta. 

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Education
4:37 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Drought May Hurt School Attendance in Central Valley

file photo
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Declining school attendance may be the latest side-effect of California’s punishing drought. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction will visit the Central Valley Wednesday to talk about the problem.

School attendance may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the impact of the drought on California. But it is affected. Less water means fewer crops, which means fewer farm jobs. And when the jobs disappear, families of migrant workers move on, taking their school age children with them.

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Drought
9:05 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Along The Pacific Flyway, California's Drought Raises Concerns For Wildlife

Ric Ortega is the General Manager of the Grasslands Water District in Los Banos
Joe Moore

The area around Los Banos isn't just a stopover for valley travelers along Highway 152 who are headed for the Central Coast. It's also a vital rest stop for millions of birds from across North America on the Pacific Flyway.

Ric Ortega: "If you come out here, you really don't see it all off of any of the major highways. But here we have something that definitely at least from an ecological perspective is equivalent to Yosemite Valley."

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Water
11:02 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Report: California's Water System Needs Better Funding

San Luis Reservoir (file photo)
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

A new report says California would need an additional two to three billion dollars every year to fill gaps where funding is needed for managing the state’s water. From Sacramento, Amy Quinton has more on the latest Public Policy Institute of California report.

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