Business & Economy

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

Feb 17, 2015
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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

Robots Could Be Headed To Central Valley Farms

Jan 23, 2015
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. 

California Farmers Turn Sugar Beets Into Energy

Jan 22, 2015
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."

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:

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. 

New Laws: California Implements New Egg Standards

Jan 5, 2015
nickwheeleroz / Creative Commons License / Flickr.com

Starting January 1st, every egg sold at a grocery store in California must meet new standards that require hens have more space. It’s a requirement of Proposition 2 approved by voters in 2008, which requires farm animals have enough room to turn around, lie down, stand up and stretch their limbs.

Egg farmers sued in 2012 on grounds the law is unconstitutionally vague. The law has also prompted concerns of an egg shortage. But Ronald Fong with the California Grocers’ Association says that’s unlikely.

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

California’s farm fields can be threatening places for agriculture workers. But a new law going into effect next year is designed to make those fields a bit safer. As part of our annual new law series, Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The law will require farm labor contractors to provide all supervisors, foremen and employees with sexual harassment training. Democratic Senator Bill Monning authored the bill. He says there’s an epidemic of harassment and assault of California farm workers.

2014 Was A Rough Year for California's Farmers and Ranchers

Dec 17, 2014
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California's farmers and ranchers have endured a challenging 2014. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg reports on how they're weathering the drought.

Paula Getzelman says recent rain brings a deep sigh of relief. She and her husband run Tre Gatti Vineyards in Monterey County. 

Getzelman: "We were extremely nervous in 2014. The harvest was a real nail biter."

Production at Tre Gatti was down twenty percent. Getzelman says she feels luckier than some of her neighbors who were down thirty percent. 

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

This is the second story in a two-part series reported in partnership with Harvest Public Media. The first story explores why a Merced family is on the move to South Dakota: California Dairies Look To Midwest’s Greener Pastures.

Ezra David Romero

This is the first story in a two-part series reported in partnership with Harvest Public Media. The second story explores why a Chino family moved to Nebraska a few years back: "Midwest Recruiting California Dairies To Pump Up Rural Economy."

 

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The historic Hotel Fresno, a landmark on the city's skyline since 1912, could soon be reborn as the latest residential development in the downtown district.

The Fresno City Council is set to vote Thursday on a plan that would allow potential new owners APEC International, LLC to move forward with the $21 million restoration project. Their vision would transform the vacant hotel into a 70 unit apartment building.

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall

Jerry Greenfield is a many of many talents - entrepreneur, activist,  and ice cream innovator, just to name a few. The co-founder of Ben & Jerry's will visit Fresno on Wednesday November 12th to deliver a speech for the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series. He recently joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his life and career, including how he met his longtime business partner, and his strategy for success. We also talked about his activism on a number of issues including GMO foods and more. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Today a federal judge in Fresno issued a preliminary injunction to keep Chukchansi Gold and Resort casino closed.

During a morning hearing prior to issuing the order to keep the casino closed, federal judge Lawrence O’Neil says there’s been little to no progress made by the split factions.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The federal judge who issued the temporary closure of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino in Coarsegold last week ruled Wednesday that the operation will remain closed for at least until the end of the month.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Factions of the Chukchansi Indians have been going at it for decades. Last week their tribal dispute escalated to a boiling point endangering the public. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino near Coarsegold.

In the hills of Madera County a 25 year old family dispute has surfaced.

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