Agriculture

A federal judge in Los Angeles has upheld California's law that bans the use of tightly confined cages for some farm animals.

An egg producer challenged 2008's proposition 2, saying it was too vague for farmers because it didn't specify cage size.

But US District Judge John F. Walter said in his ruling it wouldn't require QUOTE "the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute."

Food and Drug Administration

DFI Marketing of Fresno has announced a recall of 28,000 cartons of cantaloupe after a sample tested positive for Salmonella bacteria. Dresick Farms Inc grows produce on a farm in Huron, in western Fresno County.  

This November, voters in California will decide whether the state should require labels on foods with genetically engineered ingredients. If the initiative, known as Proposition 37, passes, manufacturers would have to say somewhere on the front or the back of the food's packaging if the product contains or may contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Federal regulators and fast-food companies reacted with unprecedented speed this week to the release of an undercover video that animal-rights activists shot inside a California slaughterhouse. The video — which, we'll warn you, is pretty graphic — shows employees of Central Valley Meat Co. using electric prods repeatedly on cattle that appeared unable to get to their feet.

California Labor Commissioner Julie Su has filed a lawsuit against a Valley farm labor contractor for unpaid wages. The case filed in Fresno Superior Court on Monday alleges Javier Diaz of Diaz Contracting committed multiple violations, including failure to provide minimum wage and overtime to employees. The lawsuit seeks over $600,000 in unpaid wages, penalties and damages affecting 129 workers.

California Leads Nation in Farmer's Markets

Aug 5, 2012
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The number of farmer’s markets in California has risen substantially. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, there are about 830 markets in the state. That’s up almost a hundred from last year.

Kathleen Merrigan with the USDA says the economy and the demand for fresh, healthy food have caused a 10 percent increase in markets nationwide.

Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced plans today to make big changes to the state’s water supply system - and the plan is already being met with both support and criticism from up and down the state.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a new $23.7 billion proposal that would build a twin tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta over to the southern part of the state.

Water in Southern California has become an intractable problem. The frustration was evident at the press conference, when Brown dropped a four-letter expletive.

The Sacramento Bee reports:

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The Central Valley is the agricultural center of California, producing a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other commodities - all worked by the hands of thousands of farm workers. However, these crops may be threatened this season with a reported decrease in the number of workers. 

The ag industry may soon see some changes, now that the Farmworker Safety Act was approved by the state Assembly yesterday afternoon. 

The United Farm Workers of America celebrated its 50th anniversary in Bakersfield this weekend. The two-day convention attracted hundreds of workers from the around the valley, and even the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. Solis made the trip from Washington D.C. to speak with the supporters and honor one of the co-founders of the union, Dolores Huerta, with a special coin commemorating her activism for the community.

The conference ended with a video speech from President Obama, who praised the union for their hard work for fair pay for farm workers.

Agricultural metal theft continues to be a problem in the valley, and Sacramento lawmakers are paying attention. The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing today in Downtown Fresno searching for solutions.

Four years ago, the state legislature passed a bill by then Assembly member Tom Berryhill that aimed to crack down on the theft of metal from farmers. The bill required recyclers to keep detailed records on materials and sellers.

This week on Valley Edition, we look at the changing demographics of California, which is now a net exporter of people to other states. How did the California dream turn out to be a nightmare for so many? We talk to some residents who've left, and also to experts who are using the newly revised population estimates to plan the state's future. We also talk about the role of kids on family farms, and learn about the California Reads program taking place in Kern County.

Valley Edition for May 1, 2012:

Frederick Scott Salyer, 56, has pleaded guilty in a massive tomato price fixing scheme that investigators say affected almost every American home.

Salyer, the former chief executive officer of SK Foods LP, said he bribed purchasers and fixed prices for the sale of his tomato products to McCain Foods USA Inc., ConAgra Foods Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc.

The AP reports:

Food expo showcases local goods to buyers

Mar 8, 2012

Hundreds of people sampled local eats today at the second annual Fresno Food Expo including everything from flavored olive oil, chillipepper infused beer and a peach flavored sparkling wine served at the Oscars.

Nearly 400 buyers and distributors attended the event at the Fresno Convention Center and around 80 exhibitors showed off local products.

Craig Scharton, the City of Fresno's director of Downtown Community Revitalization, said that the show is a positive force for the economy.

World Ag Expo Showcases Latest Technology

Feb 15, 2012
Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

Thousands braced the rain at the 2012 World Ag Expo in Tulare today. Expo officials expect the event to attract nearly 100,000 people by the close of the event on Thursday. The grounds contain over 1,400 exhibitors including experts in citrus, dairy, livestock and more.

Segment 1: Valley Economy
As world markets continue to try to make sense out of the US debt downgrade, and nationwide poor job creation numbers, what does it mean for Valley residents and the local economy. Host Juanita Stevenson talks with Fresno State business professor Dr. Bill Rice, and Cal State Bakersfield business professor Dr. John Emery about what the latest developments mean for local residents.

Segment 1: Foster Kids
FM89’s Tracey Scharmann reports on how a program at a local college is helping former foster youth gain not only an education, but also a solid foundation in life as independent adults. Host Juanita Stevenson also talks with guests Colleen McGauley, Executive Director, of CASA of Kern County; Cathi Huerta recently retired director of the Fresno County Department of Social Services, Margaret Jackson, Director of the Cultural Broker Family Advocate Program, and Deshunna Ricks, former foster youth.

Farmers, Government Seek to Prevent Heat Illness

Jul 26, 2011

It's mid-morning under a sunny and nearly cloudless sky at Paul Betancourt's farm, about 20 miles southwest of Kerman. Two workers are getting ready to disk the wheat field with the tractor and irrigate the cotton. Betancourt has been monitoring the temperature.

"It was 86 when you drove up and the forecast for Fresno is 99," he says. "It's usually a little cooler out here. We've kinda done the heavy lifting for the day already."

One of his employees, Ruben Elenes, has been a farmworker for 15 years. He knows how to protect himself from the sun.

Last week, California Governor Jerry Brown declared that the wet winter has officially put an end to the state’s drought. But with the annual April 1 Sierra snowpack at 165 percent of average, does that mean California’s water woes are behind it, or are just getting started. This week on Quality of Life, UC Merced hydrologist Dr. Roger C. Bales tells us about the science of measuring snow, and what global warming might mean for the our water supply.

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