Business & Economy

Agriculture
4:00 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Judge Rejects Challenges to California's Law on Farm Animal Cages

A federal judge in Los Angeles has upheld California's law that bans the use of tightly confined cages for some farm animals.

An egg producer challenged 2008's proposition 2, saying it was too vague for farmers because it didn't specify cage size.

But US District Judge John F. Walter said in his ruling it wouldn't require QUOTE "the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute."

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Agriculture
3:16 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Fresno County Company Recalls Cantaloupe Over Salmonella Concerns

An image supplied by the FDA of the DFI cantaloupes involved in today's voluntary recall.
Credit Food and Drug Administration

DFI Marketing of Fresno has announced a recall of 28,000 cartons of cantaloupe after a sample tested positive for Salmonella bacteria. Dresick Farms Inc grows produce on a farm in Huron, in western Fresno County.  

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Business & Economy
12:00 pm
Thu September 13, 2012

Amazon "Tax" Begins Saturday

If you need to make a purchase on Amazon, now would be a good time to do it. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, starting Saturday, Californians will have to pay sales taxes on purchases.

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Business & Economy
12:36 pm
Sat September 1, 2012

AAA: Labor Day Holiday Travel Up

Freeway traffic on Interstate 10 in Southern California (file photo)
Credit Michael R Perry / Licensed via Creative Commons via Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelrperry/6868181303/

The latest AAA forecast says a higher number of Californians will be traveling over this Labor Day holiday weekend.

According to the auto club, 3.7 million Californians will travel 50 miles or more.

“This is a modest increase of 3.4 percent over last year," said Cynthia Harris, who is with AAA Northern California. She says “modest” increases in travel numbers have been the norm over the past four years.

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Housing
11:58 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Foreclosures Drop, But Still Remain High

Merced has been among the communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Foreclosure-related home sales fell 10 percent in California during the second-quarter compared to last year. But repossessions still accounted for a big percentage of homes sold. Listing service RealtyTrac says four out of every 10 California homes sold between April and June were foreclosures.

Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s Vice-President said that number, "is extremely high. We’d expect to see less than 5 percent of all sales be foreclosure-related in a normal, healthy market."

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Labor
5:13 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

New Study Says California Temp Workers More Likely To Be Poor

A new UC Berkeley study says temporary workers in California are more likely to live in poverty than their co-workers.

Miranda Dietz is with the university’s Center for Labor Research and Education. She says “temps” hired through staffing agencies to work in data entry, nursing, accounting and other jobs, earn an average of 18 percent less per hour than their co-workers.

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Business & Economy
12:52 pm
Fri August 24, 2012

Buy Here, Pay Here Bills Still Moving Despite Opposition

A used car lot on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno - file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Three bills that would regulate California’s “Buy Here, Pay Here” used car industry are moving through the State Capitol despite some growing opposition. The critics include several used car dealers associations and some local chambers of commerce.

Former Republican Assemblyman Roger Niello is with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce. He’s also the owner of several auto dealers. He says efforts to crack down on what the bills’ authors call “predatory lending” would backfire on the very people the legislation is intended to help.

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Business & Economy
4:16 pm
Thu August 23, 2012

Congressmen Call For Hanford Slaughterhouse to Re-Open

Three Central Valley Congressmen have called on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vislack to allow the Hanford slaughterhouse at the center of an animal cruelty controversy to re-open.

In a letter released today, Republican House members Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and Jeff Denham called the shutdown of the Central Valley Meat Company unnecessary, and said the closure is causing economic hardship in the area. They said that the investigation into the plant's practices can continue should the plant re-open.

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The Salt
11:09 am
Thu August 23, 2012

So, Who Sent Those Sick Cows To The Slaughterhouse?

A security guard opens the gate at the Central Valley Meat Co., the California slaughterhouse recently shut down by federal regulators after they received a graphic video of cows being mistreated.
Gosia Wozniacka AP

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 8:00 am

Federal regulators and fast-food companies reacted with unprecedented speed this week to the release of an undercover video that animal-rights activists shot inside a California slaughterhouse. The video — which, we'll warn you, is pretty graphic — shows employees of Central Valley Meat Co. using electric prods repeatedly on cattle that appeared unable to get to their feet.

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Jobs
2:45 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Report: State Unemployment Will Fall Below 10 Percent In Mid 2013

An economic forecast out today says California’s unemployment rate will drop to single digits this time next year – sooner than originally predicted. Right now, California’s jobless rate is 10.7%. It peaked at 12.5% in 2010. The rate’s been inching down ever since.

Economist Jeff Michael is with the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific in Stockton. “We see [the] unemployment rate going into single digits in mid-2013 and in the past we’ve been saying the end of 2013.”

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Business & Economy
9:43 am
Wed August 15, 2012

California Lumber Sales Creep Up In Recent Years

file photo
Licensed using Creative Commons from Flickr user CHRISTOPHER MACSURAK http://www.flickr.com/photos/macsurak/6195650749/

Lumber sales are up slightly in California, after hitting a record low in 2009. The 2008 collapse of the housing market devastated California's already faltering lumber industry. The housing market has been slow to recover, but new home construction has risen in the last year.

David Bischel of the California Forestry Association says that's translated into a slight uptick in lumber production. "There's been an increase in sales because there's been a small increase in housing production, our markets are very closely tied to housing markets."

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Business & Economy
4:45 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Kern County Leads Nation in Employment Gains

Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

Employment in California’s largest counties rose between December of 2010 and December of 2011, but paychecks got smaller in most large counties. 24 of the 26 large counties in California saw employment increase. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics defines large counties as those with employment of 75,000 or more.

Kern County posted a 5.3 percent increase, followed by San Francisco County at 3.3 percent. Kern County’s increase was not only the largest increase in the state but in the country as well. Los Angeles County has the highest number of employed at more than 3.9 million.

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Business & Economy
4:39 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Suit Filed Against Valley Farm Labor Contractor

California Labor Commissioner Julie Su has filed a lawsuit against a Valley farm labor contractor for unpaid wages. The case filed in Fresno Superior Court on Monday alleges Javier Diaz of Diaz Contracting committed multiple violations, including failure to provide minimum wage and overtime to employees. The lawsuit seeks over $600,000 in unpaid wages, penalties and damages affecting 129 workers.

Agriculture
3:31 pm
Sun August 5, 2012

California Leads Nation in Farmer's Markets

Fruit from Valley farms makes for a colorful scene at a farmer's market in downtown Fresno.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The number of farmer’s markets in California has risen substantially. According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey, there are about 830 markets in the state. That’s up almost a hundred from last year.

Kathleen Merrigan with the USDA says the economy and the demand for fresh, healthy food have caused a 10 percent increase in markets nationwide.

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Business & Economy
9:54 am
Fri August 3, 2012

California's "Buy Here Pay Here" Used Car Industry Could Face New Regulations

The controversial “Buy Here, Pay Here” used car industry would face strict new regulations under several bills moving through the California legislature.

Search “Buy Here, Pay Here” on Google and the first website that pops up is “We-Approve-Bad-Credit-dot-com.” Dealers require buyers to make each month’s loan payment in person. If they can’t, their cars are often repossessed on the spot. Democratic State Senator Ted Lieu says his bill would apply similar regulations for typical auto lenders to the Buy Here, Pay Here industry.

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Business & Economy
12:31 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Valley Business Conditions Slump For Second Straight Month

Numbers released today from Fresno State's Craig School of Business show the San Joaquin Valley's economy is slowing. The San Joaquin Valley Business Conditions Index dropped for the second straight month in July, to 51.6, down from 55.4 in June.

The numbers remain above growth neutral, meaning the economy is still expected to grow in the next three to six months, businesses aren't as optimistic about the future as they were in June. The lower July numbers reflect a drop in new export orders and business confidence.

Valley Public Radio News
6:53 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Labor shortage a concern to valley farmers

A vineyard of Thompson seedless grapes west of Fresno
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The Central Valley is the agricultural center of California, producing a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and other commodities - all worked by the hands of thousands of farm workers. However, these crops may be threatened this season with a reported decrease in the number of workers. 

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Business & Economy
6:51 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Summer Jobs Hard to Find for Valley Youth

It used to be a rite of passage for teens, getting a summer job at a fast food restaurant or the mall. But with an economy that continues to struggle, the state's teen unemployment rate is around 36 percent. But there are several new programs that aim to help teens get a taste of life in the workforce, and local companies that are working with non-profits and the government on this issue. Juanita Stevenson reports on how a summer job changed one teen's life.

Business & Economy
5:50 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

Assembly Passes Farm Worker Safety Act

The ag industry may soon see some changes, now that the Farmworker Safety Act was approved by the state Assembly yesterday afternoon. 

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Agriculture
6:39 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Obama Praises UFW on 50th Anniversary

The United Farm Workers of America celebrated its 50th anniversary in Bakersfield this weekend. The two-day convention attracted hundreds of workers from the around the valley, and even the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis. Solis made the trip from Washington D.C. to speak with the supporters and honor one of the co-founders of the union, Dolores Huerta, with a special coin commemorating her activism for the community.

The conference ended with a video speech from President Obama, who praised the union for their hard work for fair pay for farm workers.

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