Agriculture

Drought
10:39 am
Tue June 10, 2014

California Officials Developing Groundwater Management Plans

Credit California Department of Water Resources

California state officials are working on a five-year plan they hope will lead to better local management of underground water supplies. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The state says groundwater levels are in alarming decline – and that must be reversed. In times of drought, more water is pulled from the ground. A number of government agencies are generating a five-year plan to make sure that over years of use and replenishment, there’s adequate supply of groundwater

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The Salt
1:10 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

California's Drought Isn't Making Food Cost More. Here's Why

Farmworkers pull weeds from a field of lettuce near Gonzales, Calif. Salinas Valley farms like this one rely on wells, which haven't been affected much by the drought.
George Rose Getty Images

Originally published on Tue May 27, 2014 1:48 pm

The entire state of California is in a severe drought. Farmers and farmworkers are hurting.

You might expect this to cause food shortages and higher prices across the country. After all, California grows 95 percent of America's broccoli, 81 percent of its carrots and 99 percent of the country's artichokes, almonds and walnuts, among other foods.

Yet there's been no sign of a big price shock. What gives?

Here are three explanations.

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Drought
6:22 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

California Water Managers May Limit River Water Diversion For Crops

California water officials are considering new rules this week that may prohibit some California farmers from diverting river water to irrigate their crops. (file photo of Friant Dam on the San Joaquin River)
Credit State Department of Water Resources

Some California farmers may not be allowed to divert river water to irrigate their crops this summer. The restriction is part of new rules being considered this week by state water managers.

Some members of the Water Resources Control board say suspending water rights is an unavoidable temporary emergency measure caused by the drought.

Felicia Marcus Chairs the Board, and says any limits on water rights should be clearly explained, and narrow in scope.

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Business & Economy
6:28 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Report: Drought Won't Hurt California Economy

Farm laborers work in a citrus grove near Fresno (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California’s drought may have a lot of negative consequences, but a new report out today says the state’s economy won’t be one of them. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The report from Moody’s Investors Service finds, short term, California’s economy won’t suffer as a result of the drought. It finds the state’s reliance on income taxes and sales taxes will largely provide a buffer. H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance, agrees the state’s economy has weathered the drought so far. 

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Drought
3:55 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Drought Could Cost California Agriculture Industry $1.7 Billion

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A new study shows that California’s drought could result in severe economic losses for Central Valley farmers. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the analysis also shows the drought will mean thousands of job losses.

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Environment
4:51 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Depletion Linked to Earthquakes

Pumping of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley could be influencing seismic activity in California. (file photo)
Credit California Department of Water Resources

Researchers have long known that the mountain ranges surrounding the Central Valley have been rising faster than expected--a few millimeters every year for over a century.  And over the same time, seismic activity in the area has also increased.  According to a new study, both may be linked to the depletion of groundwater in the Central Valley.  Colin Amos of Western Washington University is lead author on the study.

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Drought
6:29 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Valley Growers At Odds Over Millerton Lake Water

Millerton Lake is the site of the state's latest water fight, pitting downtstream San Joaquin River growers against those who typically get Friant water on the valley's east side.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today that for the first in this history of Friant Dam, the oldest water rights holders on the San Joaquin River - the Exchange Contractors  - will begin to draw down water from Millerton Lake.

The move pits farmers in Merced County against those on the east side of the valley from Fresno to Kern, and underscores the divide between the holders of historic water rights, and those whose supplies came about in the middle of the 20th century.

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Voices of the Drought
6:47 pm
Mon May 12, 2014

California's Drought Triggers Drop In School Attendance

The district says it receives about 34-40 dollars a day per student.
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. 

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Environment
3:44 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

California Water Officials Report Near Record May Snow Levels

file photo
Credit 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.”

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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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