Agriculture

Diana Aguilera

Schools on the east side of Fresno County are already feeling the impact of California’s ongoing drought.

Education officials from the Kings Canyon Unified District say they have seen a significant drop in attendance this year.

 Superintendent Juan Garza says families have been forced to relocate, taking their school aged children with them.

Come August of next school year, there may be even less kids having fun on the playground. 

California Water Officials Report Near Record May Snow Levels

May 1, 2014
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

This year’s final measurement of the Sierra snowpack showed near-record low water levels for this time of year. The state takes five monthly measurements each year from January to May.

Doug Carlson with the Department of Water Resources says the state-wide “snow water equivalent” is only at about 18 percent of what would be typical for the first of May.

Carlson: “That means that we are looking at very little relief coming from the mountains in the way of snow melt to provide us with drinking water over the summer and into the fall.”

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.

Governor Brown Issues New Executive Order In Reponse To Drought

Apr 25, 2014
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Spring Rain And Snow Mean Increased Water Allocations

Apr 18, 2014
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

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.

Drought Operation Plan For Two Water Projects Released

Apr 10, 2014
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.

California Bill Would Mandate Paid Rest Breaks for Farm Workers

Mar 31, 2014
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.

PPIC Survey: Support For California Water Bond Increases

Mar 27, 2014
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.

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. 

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.

Pages