Agriculture

Environment
6:03 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Brown Signs Historic Groundwater Legislation

California now has its first laws regulating the use of groundwater. Governor Jerry Brown signed the package of legislation today.
Office of Governor Jerry Brown

It’s going to become more difficult to drill a well in California. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on a package of groundwater legislation signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown.

The regulations will require local agencies to create and implement groundwater management plans within five years and meet groundwater sustainability levels within 20 years. Brown says the laws, combined with the Legislature's bi-partisan approval of a water bond slated for the November ballot, represent a giant step forward toward securing the state’s water supply.

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Environment
12:49 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Valley Farmers Worried About New Groundwater Regulations

file photo
Credit California Department of Water Resources

California Governor Jerry Brown made history Tuesday morning when he signed into law three bills that for the first time will regulate groundwater in the state. California had been the only state in the nation that did not regulate groundwater at the state level.

While many environmental groups praised the move, a number of valley agriculture interests opposed the new regulations. This week on Valley Edition, we talked to Joel Nelson of the Exeter-based group California Citrus Mutual about his concerns about the new laws. 

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Drought
5:15 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

Forecasters Say Chances Are El Niño Won't End California's Drought

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California.
Credit National Weather Service - Hanford

Forecasters say the chances are diminishing that El Niño will bring rain to California. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center analysis shows a 60-to-65 percent chance of the warm ocean condition known as El Niño developing this fall and winter. The report also indicates a strong El Niño is not expected and a weak event is likely.

Michelle Mead is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

She says a weak El Niño won't end the California drought. 

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Drought
9:48 am
Thu August 28, 2014

California Senate Passes Groundwater Management Plan

The California Senate has approved a bill that would establish a groundwater management plan for the state.
Credit California Department of Water Resources

With days to go before the end of the legislative session, the California Senate passed a groundwater management plan Wednesday. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

Forty percent of California’s water comes from groundwater, yet the state has never had a plan to manage it. That could soon change if a measure approved in the Senate makes it through the rest of the legislative process.

The bill would require local governments to set up groundwater management agencies. The agencies would have five years to implement a management plan.

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Government & Politics
6:14 pm
Thu August 21, 2014

California Bill Would Tackle Laborers' Working Conditions

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Many California agricultural workers aren’t employed directly by farmers, but by labor contractors. Now a new bill in the California legislature would bring about more protections for those workers, but as FM89’s Kerry Klein reports, it’s also the source of controversy.

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Government & Politics
1:00 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

Water Bond Deal Draws Rare Unity At Capitol

Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers take a victory lap through the state Capitol Wednesday night after the Legislature passed a $7.5 billion water bond proposal for the November ballot.
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The saying goes that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over. But a California Legislature that rarely shies away from a fight found itself in near unanimous agreement last night on a new water bond to replace the $11 billion measure on the November ballot. Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

It was an issue that held the Capitol in suspense day after day. A deal was in doubt even into yesterday afternoon and a key election deadline loomed at midnight. But the end was surprisingly anticlimactic.

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Government & Politics
11:02 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Storage, Tunnels Clog Water Bond Talks As Deadline Nears

Mary Wells (left), her daughter (center) and her granddaughter (right) - the 5th, 6th and 7th generations of the family to live on the family's Colusa County ranch.
Ben Adler Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown and California lawmakers are already living on borrowed time as they negotiate a measure to replace the $11 billion water bond on the November ballot. The official deadline under state law passed six weeks ago. Any deal would have to waive election laws, and be signed by the end of this week. But two huge sticking points are clogging up the water talks, as Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.

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Commentary
1:55 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Joe Mathews: We Are All Dairy Cows Now

Dairy cows in Riverdale (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

I am a California dairy cow.  Mmmm—oo.

Surprised to hear from me? In normal times, I wouldn’t be inclined to cooperate with the anthropomorphic scheme of a writer desperate for a mid-summer column.

But today so much is being said about agriculture here in the Central Valley, and dairies in particular, that I felt the need to—if you’ll pardon the pun—milk the moment. Too many of you city slickers have the wrong impression of the cows you pass along the 5 or the 99.

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Government & Politics
5:37 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Brown Calls For New, Smaller Water Bond

California Governor Jerry Brown has broken his silence on water bond talks. He’s opposing the $11 billion measure currently on the November ballot and proposing a $6 billion bond instead.
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown wants to scrap the 11 billion dollar water bond scheduled for California’s November ballot and replace it with a smaller proposal of his own. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler reports.
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Six billion dollars. That’s what the governor says he’s willing to spend. Not 11, like the existing bond; not eight or nine billion, like some of the proposals floating around the Legislature. Six billion. In an interview with Capital Public Radio, Brown put forth an argument of fiscal prudence for a state already 30 billion dollars in debt.

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Agriculture
5:09 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

'Fig Fest' Celebrates A Tasty Valley Tradition

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and figs have a long history together. Nearly 100 years ago,  real estate developer J.C. Forkner purchased thousands of acres of hardpan soil miles north of the city of Fresno. 

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Water
7:38 am
Tue August 5, 2014

Clock Ticking on California Water Bond Deal

Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount for a revised water bond is still up for debate. (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers are back from their summer break and facing pressure to craft a deal on a new water bond. But, as Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, time is running out.
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Legislative Democrats and Governor Jerry Brown want to replace the $11 billion bond currently on the November ballot with a smaller bond. Senate President Darrell Steinberg says the exact amount is still up for debate. Another big sticking point: which state agency will manage the restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem.  

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Agriculture
6:50 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Could An Olive Oil Boom Be In California's Future?

file photo
Credit Creative Commons / Flickr user wollombi / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wollombi/49941220/

We all know Central California produces most of the state’s petroleum, but could another oil boom be on the horizon? Well, that’s what journalist Nathanael Johnson from the online environmental news website Grist argues in a new article that came out last week – but he’s not talking about fracking or the Monterey Shale – he’s talking about olive oil. 

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Drought
11:02 am
Thu July 24, 2014

NASA Photos Document Drought's Toll On California Landscape

June 2014: Fallowed farms in the San Joaquin Valley can be seen in this image from NASA's MODIS instrument, taken June 24, 2014
NASA Earth Observatory

If you drive through Central California, it might be easy to forget the state is in the midst of a drought of historic proportions. Almond orchards and vineyards are green and full with crops awaiting harvest, and in cities green lawns still outnumber brown ones. 

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Water
7:41 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

New Survey Says Californians Overwhelmingly Support Statewide Groundwater Plan

Credit California Department of Water Resources

An overwhelming majority of likely California voters say they favor a statewide groundwater management plan over the status quo. The results are part of a new survey released today. Capital Public Radio’s Max Pringle reports. 

The survey was commissioned by the non-profit California Water Foundation. It finds the prolonged drought has focused public opinion on the need to regulate groundwater. Pollster David Metz says few Californians think the state is doing an adequate job of managing.the resource.

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High Speed Rail
7:26 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Fresno County Supervisors Wait On Poochigian Proposal To Oppose High Speed Rail

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno County Board of Supervisors decided to wait on a proposal Tuesday that would have formally positioned the county as opposed to California’s high speed rail project. The effort which was led by Supervisor Debbie Poochigian, who says the project’s funding should be diverted to other areas like water or public safety.

Poochigian spoke with Valley Public Radio on Monday afternoon before the meeting:

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Water
7:01 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Fines Now Possible for California Water Wasters

file photo
Credit Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources

A state agency took a major step to encourage water conservation Tuesday. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, it voted to allow large fines for wasting water.

The State Water Resources Control Board has adopted emergency regulations that allow local water agencies to levy fines up to $500 a day for people who waste water outdoors. Board Chair Felicia Marcus says collecting money isn’t the goal. Convincing urban water users to conserve is.

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Drought
6:37 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Groundwater Helping Farmers Endure California Drought, UC Davis Says

Pistachios in Kern County (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Research from UC Davis suggests California farmers are mostly able to maintain production during the drought because of their use of underground water– but environmentalists, scientists and farmers agree the practice is not a long term solution. Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

California farming will take a financial hit because of the drought. But for the most part, the UC Davis drought study says groundwater will supply what’s lacking in surface water. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute says pumping groundwater can’t continue to go unregulated.   

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Business & Economy
5:32 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Drought Hurts Fresno County Crop Value, Dropping Behind Tulare County

For the first time, almonds topped grapes as Fresno County's number one crop in 2013.
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A report released today shows that Fresno's agricultural industry has slipped out of its first-place standing in the state.  The 2013 Fresno County crop report shows that its total gross value of agricultural products last year was $6.4 billion, over $1.3 billion behind Tulare County--the first time since 2002 that Tulare swung to the top of the list.

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Drought
5:05 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Drought Could Cost California Economy $2.2 Billion In 2014, Says Study

Managing groundwater reserves is key to the state surviving a long-term drought. Here, Senior Engineering Geologist Chris Bonds from the California Department of Water Resources monitors flow rate from a well.
Credit John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

The California economy could lose $2.2 billion this year because of the drought. Max Pringle reports on a UC Davis study that shows the agriculture industry alone could lose $1.5 billion.

The study says California will have to make do with a third less water this year and that could lead to 430 thousand acres of fallow farmland. Former UC Davis Economist Richard Howitt says the pain won’t be spread evenly throughout the state.

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Drought
6:08 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Forecasters: El Nino Not Likely To Help Ease Drought

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter.
National Weather Service

It's less likely an El Niño event will bring rain to parched California next fall or winter. And, as Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento, the drought is expected to continue next year.

National Weather Service forecasters say the chance of El Niño is about 70 percent during the Northern Hemisphere this summer and is close to 80 percent during the fall and early winter.

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