Business & Economy

Agriculture
5:00 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

What Drought? California Table Grape Growers Have Record Crop

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the worst drought in recent memory, Central California's table grape growers enjoyed a record crop in 2014.

According to numbers released Friday by the California Table Grape Commission, last year's crop was worth $1.76 million, an all time value record. In terms of volume, it was the second largest crop in history, at 110 million boxes.

In a press release, Kathleen Nave, president of the California Table Grape Commission said exports topped 44.5 million boxes.

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Indian Gaming
12:09 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Money, Greed and Power Keep Chukchansi Casino Closed, Tribe Still Divided

Tex McDonald leads the faction that attempted an ambush of the casino in October, 2014.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The future of the Chukchansi tribe in Central California is in jeopardy. The federal government shut down the tribe's casino six months ago after a conflict over control of the tribe escalated to violence. Now many tribal members are without basic services, and the multi-million dollar resort sits vacant, threatening the tribe's finances. As Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports, the Chukchansi people are just one example of what happens when big money, greed and power intersect in a struggle for cultural identity. 

Chris Ballew is as Chukchansi as you can get.

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Agriculture
4:27 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Citrus Growers Gather To Plan For Drought And Bugs

Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Over that last few years the citrus industry was hit hard by a freeze, a drought and a disease. This year, as Ezra David Romero reports from Visalia Thursday, the industry faces even more issues.

In the heart of California’s orange country more than 200 growers met this week at the 2015 Citrus Showcase to collaborate on how to keep their tangelo, lemon and mandarin trees producing ripe and juicy fruit.

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Drought
2:50 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Big Businesses Weighing In On California Drought

file photo
Credit CA Dept of Water Resources

As the California drought stretches into its fourth year, the business community wants to have a say in how water is managed. From Sacramento, Katie Orr reports on a new collaboration announced today.

Companies including Coca-Cola, General Mills and KB Home say they want a greater voice in how the state manages water. The group says it will monitor implementation of the recently passed water bond and ground water legislation. It will also encourage conservation and recycling at the local level.

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Agriculture
6:10 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Major Valley Almond Grower Gets Into The Bee And Honey Business

Beehives are a common sight in almond orchards throughout the Central Valley this time of year. (file photo)
Credit Almond Board of California

California’s almond orchards are turning from white to green this week as millions of blossoms fall, marking the end of this year’s bloom. But for one valley almond grower, work with the bees that make it all possible has just begun. FM89’s Joe Moore reports.

You probably know Paramount Farms from their brands like Wonderful Pistachios and POM Wonderful. Now the world’s largest grower of almonds and pistachios is adding a new product to that portfolio – something they call Wonderful Bees.

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Business & Economy
12:04 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Quay Valley: Creating A High Tech Town Out Of Dust

Credit https://www.facebook.com/124138571000858/photos/a.124146077666774.31490.124138571000858/700246926723350/?type=1&theater

Last week, an ambitious planned development that seemingly died during the recession reemerged in rural Kings County.

The developers behind the proposed community of Quay Valley say this new city of 75,000 people would be located on a barren stretch of Interstate 5 south of Kettleman City.

While things like water, infrastructure and jobs all remain big questions, the developers have announced one other detail – a planned 5 mile test track for entrepreneur Elon Musk’s proposed Hyper Loop.

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Agriculture
3:40 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

Valley Farmers Face Second Year With No Federal Water Allocation

The Friant Kern Canal was nearly empty for much of 2014 after a zero percent allocation to east valley farmers served by the CVP.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The US Bureau of Reclamation says most farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will face a second year with no water from the Central Valley Project.

Ron Milligan is Operations Manager for the CVP. He says low reservoir storage is only part of the reason for the “zero allocation”.

Milligan:  “We’ve accumulated probably less than average snow for the month of February so we anticipate unfortunately the March 1 snow surveys are going to be probably even less fruitful then they were in February.”

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Agriculture
5:38 pm
Wed February 25, 2015

A Bee Heist? $52K In Bees Stolen In Fresno County

A simple way beekeepers can protect themselves is to mark their hives with a unique name and telephone number.
Credit https://www.fresnosheriff.org/admin/media-relations/606-recent-hive-heists-total-more-than-50-000.html

A crime that’s caught the Fresno County Sheriff’s attention recently has little do with gangs or weapons, it has do with something that flies.

Bees.

Last week, thieves stole $32,000 worth of bees and their hives from a ranch near Coalinga and $20,000 worth near Firebaugh, according to Fresno County Sheriff Spokesman Tony Botti.

He says every year thieves target and steal hives across the region.

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Agriculture
4:52 pm
Fri February 20, 2015

'Workshop On Wheels' Gives Valley Hmong Farmers Insight Into Bay Area Markets

The group of Hmong farmers stopped at four different sites in the Bay area.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

Many small farmers have success selling their produce at farmers markets, but selling to larger food distributors can be difficult. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on a new project that hopes to connect one group of Southeast Asian growers with Bay Area buyers.

    

Small Hmong farms dot Fresno County growing specialty crops like the red date jujube, lemon grass and bitter melon. But more often than not, these farmers lack the resources and the know how to get their produce to larger markets.  

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Agriculture
5:39 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

Citrus Growers Say Port Dispute Could Be Worse Than Freeze

Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The labor conflict that has clogged west coast ports in recent weeks has the Valley’s citrus industry on edge. FM 89’s Jason Scott reports.

Agricultural products from the Valley that should be making their way to countries like China, Japan, and Australia are sitting on the docks of west coast ports due to a labor dispute. While the ports reopened Tuesday, their shutdown over the weekend has caused a slowdown that has growers worried.

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Agriculture
10:04 am
Tue February 17, 2015

California Ranchers Are Bouncing Back, But Still Feel Effects of Drought

Jim Gates with Nevada County Free Range Beef in Grass Valley
Andrew Nixon Capital Public Radio

California ranchers are bouncing back after the drought forced many of them to sell their livestock last winter. The lack of rain stopped the grass from growing, and buying enough feed became too costly.  

This year, Capital Public Radio's Amy Quinton returned to the ranches she visited in 2014 to see how they’re doing and filed this report.

Jim Gates owns Nevada County Free Range Beef and was hit hard by the drought last year. 

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Business & Economy
3:38 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

World AG Expo Brings Big Money To The Region

World Ag Expo 2015
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

As the world’s largest agricultural trade show comes to an end today in Tulare County, FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on how the farm show boosts the local economy.  

The World Ag Expo in Tulare isn’t only about the latest in farm technology. It’s also about bringing outside dollars into the Valley.

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Agriculture
5:04 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

At The World Ag Expo Innovation Leads To A Tractor Fashion Show

ROEBL is the invention of Justin Gray. He created the electric remote control tractor because he saw a need for a hands free tractor.
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Fashion is a high dollar business, with million dollar runway shows across the globe. This year at the largest agricultural expo, the world of farming is borrowing an idea from the fashion industry, with a special show of its own. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports.

I’m in the front row of a fashion show unlike any other.  Bright lights, models and a catwalk are replaced by blue skies, tractors and a dirt arena.

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Agriculture
5:32 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

2015 World Ag Expo Kicks Off In Tulare

The World Ag Expo began its three day run in Tulare on Tuesday. FM89's Ezra David Romero says this year's show has a focus on drones, robotic technology and apps for the farm. 

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Business & Economy
5:02 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

In Tulare County, A Group Turns Manure Into Clean Energy

The anaerobic digestor collects the fumes from manure and uses it to help power an ethanol plant.
Ezra David Romero Valley Public Radio

With the kickoff of the largest agriculture expo this week in Tulare County, innovation in technology is the buzz all across the region. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from Pixley where a new project is helping one local dairy turn their waste into biofuel.

About 15 miles south of the World Ag Expo in Tulare, a unique exchange is taking place between a dairy and an ethanol plant. The currency? Think manure. 

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Business & Economy
4:41 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Feds To Help Fresno Plan A Bike Share Program

Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/ddotphotos/5638201983/in/set-72157626541197176

With the popularity of bike-share programs growing across the nation, Fresno is one step closer to a system of its own. 

In order to improve air quality and to provide another low-cost transportation option, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping Fresno State and the City of Fresno plan a bike-sharing system.

Fresno is one of 21 communities to receive the grant, which will help start a pilot program on the university campus. Thomas Gaffery Fresno State’s parking and transportation manager.

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Agriculture
4:36 pm
Fri January 23, 2015

Robots Could Be Headed To Central Valley Farms

Research at UC Davis includes using fluorescent seedlings that will help a robotic cultivator target weeds.
Credit Steve Fennimore / UC Davis

Robots may soon be pulling weeds on Central Valley farms. At UC Davis researchers have received  $2.7 million dollars from the USDA to study how new technology could replace field labor. 

Automated devices pick cotton. Machines shake nut trees. But, there are a three tasks  for which farmers rely solely on humans. 

David Slaughter: "These include hand weeding, thinning and harvesting."

David Slaughter is the lead researcher working on robotic cultivators. 

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Agriculture
5:17 pm
Thu January 22, 2015

California Farmers Turn Sugar Beets Into Energy

Mendota Bioenergy aims to turn sugar beets into biofuel.
Credit Mendota Bioenergy

Struggling sugar beet farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are turning their crop into energy instead of sweetner. A pilot plant could prove to be good for the environment and the economy. 

They're called "energy beets." They look like a red table beet but, but they're larger, white, and very high in sucrose. Sugar beets in California date back to the late 1800's.

Kaffka: "Beets have been grown here commercially longer than any other place."

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Agriculture
5:35 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Six Things To Know About Central Valley Agriculture In 2015

Valley melon farmer Joe Del Bosque (file photo)
Credit Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

2014 was a year of ups and downs for the valley's largest industry, agriculture. The year began with virtually no rain and snow and fears of another dust bowl.

And while farmers and ranchers had a tough year, most survived and some even thrived. Rising milk prices boosted the bottom line for California dairymen and women and crops like tomatoes actually set new records.

So what will 2015 bring? We asked two industry experts to join us and offer their perspectives on six issues that will help define the valley's largest industry in the new year:

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Business & Economy
1:24 pm
Tue January 6, 2015

Falling Crude Prices Have Oil Industry In Kern County Worried

Oil production near Taft in Kern County
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The recent drop in oil prices may be a good thing for consumers at the gas pump, but has oil producers in Kern County worried. For a look ahead at what this means for the economy of the south valley in the new year, we talked to John Cox, energy industry reporter for the Bakersfield Californian on FM89's Valley Edition. 

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