Agriculture

Business & Economy
10:28 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Young Farmers Cultivate A New Image for Valley Agriculture

Amber Balakian makes her Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes from the tomatoes grown on her family's Reedley farm.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Amber Balakian grew up on a farm in Reedley. Her family grows 80 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, plus a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

But it took her attending Harvard University’s Extension School to realize that her family’s business was pretty cool. She returned to the 20-acre farm after she earned her master’s degree in 2009.

“My main goal coming back and working here was to make things more efficient,” Balakian says. “I just didn’t know how. One of the main things – we were dumping a ton of fruit, ton of vegetables.”

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Agriculture
6:07 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Large Raisin Crop Expected for 2013

(file photo)
Credit Flickr user Mariam - http://www.flickr.com/photos/70123617@N00/ / Creative Commons license

A new crop forecast from the USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture indicates this year's raisin crop could be as much as 25 percent larger than last year's.

It's expected to be the largest raisin crop since 2008, at 2.4 million tons. Last year's crop was just over 1.9 million tons. Over 200,000 acres of raisin grapes are in production this year. 

Officials say that warm weather has been good for crop development, which is a few days ahead of normal.

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Environment
11:04 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Betancourt Seeks Balance Between Environment, Ag in 'Ten Reasons'

Kerman farmer Paul Betancourt says it's time to Californians to abandon that idea that a healthy environment and a healthy agriculture economy can't co-exist. His new book "Ten Reasons: Finding Balance on Environmental Issues" seeks to find solutions that are both economically practical and environmentally beneficial. 

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1:24 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Dole Food Agrees to $1.2 Billion Buyout Offer From CEO

Dole Food, which operates several packing and storage facilities in the San Joaquin Valley has agreed to a buyout offer from its CEO David Murdock. Dole's Packaged Foods division operates a plant in Atwater. The company also has facilities in Terra Bella and Bakersfield.
Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images Dole Food Company Inc. has evolved from a Hawaiian pineapple purveyor into the world's largest producer of fresh fruit and vegetables. Dole's board has accepted an offer from CEO David Murdock and his family are offering to buy the business and take it private.
Agriculture
1:09 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Bakersfield Produce Grower Sun World International Sold to LA Group

Bakersfield-based produce grower and packer Sun World International has been acquired by Renewable Resources Group, a Los Angeles-based asset management firm.

Terms of the sale, which closed on August 9, were not disclosed. Sun World grows, packs and markets a variety of agricultural products ranging from grapes and stonefruit to vegetables. 

Sun World began operation in 1976, and had been owned since 2005 by Black Diamond Capital Management, a Connecticut-based investment firm. Black Diamond purchased Sun World assets at a bankruptcy auction for $127.8 million.

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The Salt
8:31 am
Fri August 9, 2013

Why Picking Your Berries For $8,000 A Year Hurts A Lot

A Triqui Mexican picks strawberries at a farm in Washington state.
Courtesy of Seth Holmes

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 7:55 am

As the supply chain that delivers our food to us gets longer and more complicated, many consumers want to understand — and control — where their food comes from.

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Environment
4:46 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Steinberg: Delta Tunnel Project Needs Legislative Buy-In

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Credit Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California legislative leaders are pushing back against the contention of Governor Jerry Brown’s administration that its Delta tunnels proposal doesn’t need lawmaker approval.

“I don’t know whether he needs it legally, but I think he needs it politically and other ways,” says Steinberg.

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Agriculture
6:49 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Farm Worker Shortage Hits California Ag Industry

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For the second year in a row, California farmers are complaining of a worker shortage.  Ben Adler reports from Sacramento on how the state’s $43.5  billion agriculture industry is feeling the squeeze – and how consumers might, too.

Last year, nearly two-thirds of farmers in a California Farm Bureau Federation survey said they didn’t have enough workers to pick their crops.  This year, says the Farm Bureau’s Brian Little, it’s a problem again.  For farmers, that means…

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Environment
2:07 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

The Challenges of Salvaging Smelt and Other Delta Fish

A truck dumps fish into the Delta at the DWR release site
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

For decades, millions of fish have been diverted from pumping facilities at state and federal water projects in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Fish -- including endangered species like the Delta smelt-- are put in holding tanks then trucked to other parts of the Delta and released. From there, little is known about their fate. But most scientists agree it’s not good. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, predator fish often wait for what amounts to a daily feeding.

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Government & Politics
6:31 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

California Senate Leader Questions Future of Water Bond

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (file photo)
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg says he’s not sure a long-delayed $11 billion water bond will make it on the 2014 ballot. More than $2 billion of that money is slated to be spent on the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. 

Governor Jerry Brown is backing a plan that calls for constructing two large underground tunnels that would send water from the Delta to Central and Southern California.

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Environment
5:20 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Experiment to "Farm" Carbon Underway in Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

An example of a restored wetland on Sherman Island.
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

Agriculture in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta has flourished thanks to rich organic soils. But after more than a hundred years of farming, those soils are eroding, and the interiors of many Delta islands are sinking. California may have a solution that would not only help farmers, but could combat climate change. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

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3:43 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

Old Sun-Maid Raisin Box On Sale For 'Just' $700,000 Online

Forget the stock market, it would appear the best investment around might be in the back of your kitchen cupboard. An ebay merchant is offering a vintage Sun-Maid raisin box for the bargain price of $700,000. As the seller says, the diminutive piece of valley agricultural memorabilia is "a small treasury for your [sic] to keep." So far there have been 57 offers, but no sale.
The "Sun-Maid Girl" Changes with the Times The "SUN-MAID" brand and "Sun-Maid Girl" trademarks became widely recognized by consumers and the trade in a few short years after their creation and introduction in 1915 and 1916. SUN-MAID raisins were the number one brand in America and were trusted by consumers for their quality, freshness and good taste.
Government & Politics
4:42 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Swearengin Focuses On Business, Industry Growth in 'State of City' Speech

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin delivers her 2013 "State of the City" address

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the the city's economy is on the road to recovery in 2013, thanks in part to growth in the local food processing sector.  

"I'm telling you that things are getting good around here when it comes to industrial expansion and expanding our food business," Swearengin told the crowd. 

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Environment
1:21 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

New Google Tool Shows Remarkable Timelapse of Fresno Growth Since 1984

A screen capture of a satellite based timelapse of Fresno's suburban growth from 1984 - 2012
Credit http://earthengine.google.org/timelapse

A new timelapse tool released this month by Google provides Fresno residents with a stark reminder of just how quickly much of the city's nearby agriculture land has been replaced by homes, shopping centers and freeways. 

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Environment
5:16 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

New Study Examines Collapse of Honey Bee Colonies

Credit USDA/EPA

The collapse of honey bee populations in the U.S. is the result of a number of factors, ranging from insects and diseases to pesticides, according to new study released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection agency.

The report says a parasitic mite is the single most destructive pest to bee populations, and is closely linked with what has come to be known as colony collapse disorder.

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Water
5:12 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

What Snow? Final Snow Survey Yields Dry Results

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The season’s final snow survey in California found what most expected – dry conditions. Snow surveyors found absolutely no snow on the ground at Phillips Station, nearly 7,000 feet up Echo Summit in the Sierras.

Water content in California’s snowpack is only 17 percent of normal, meaning a below average water supply this summer.

Frank Gehrke with the Department of Water Resources says despite that, most reservoirs are near normal levels for the date thanks to early winter storms.

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Environment
3:26 pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Brown Administration Sidesteps Controversial Delta Comments

Top Brown Administration officials wait to testify at a State Senate hearing on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. From left: Charlton Bonham (Director, Dept. of Fish & Wildlife), John Laird (Secretary of Natural Resources) & Mark Cowin (Director, Dept. of Water Resources).
Credit Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

California lawmakers who represent the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region are seething over recent comments from Governor Jerry Brown’s point man on the state’s proposed water delivery tunnel project.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento.

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Agriculture
2:08 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Environmental Advocates Call For Phasing Out Strawberry Pesticides

Credit Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Some environmentalists say hazardous strawberry pesticides should be banned in California by 2020. But as Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, strawberry growers say finding an alternative to fumigants is difficult.

On the steps of the Capitol, farm workers, environmentalists and health leaders called on the state to phase out soil fumigants used most heavily in strawberry production. They say fumigants have a wide range of health effects, are highly volatile, and drift from where they are applied. Martha Arguello is with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

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Commentary
9:18 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Commentary: Time For Fresno to Embrace Food Culture, Not Just Commerce

Del Rey farmer and performance artist Nikiko Masumoto
Credit http://whatwecouldcarry.wordpress.com/biography/

Earlier this year, the Fresno Food Expo brought together valley food businesses with regional and national buyers, as well as hundreds of ordinary local residents. But Del Rey farmer and guest commentator Nikiko Masumoto says all the buzz about food products, left her dreaming of something more meaningful, a focus on local food culture.

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Agriculture
5:55 pm
Wed April 17, 2013

USDA to Give Hispanic and Female Farmers More Time to File Discrimination Claims

Decades of discriminatory practices by the U.S. Department of Agriculture against women and Hispanic farmers are playing out in a $1.3 billion claims process. FM89’s Rebecca Plevin reports on a new deadline for those who allege discrimination.

For around 20 years, critics say the USDA’s farm loan program denied applicants because of their gender or race, and gave white male farmers preferential treatment in their dealings with the agency.

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