Business & Economy

Business news

America’s farmers are dying. But it’s not just because they’re aging. In 1978 the average age of the American farmer was 50, today it’s around 58. But there’s another even more troubling issue facing those who grow our food -  farmers taking their own lives.

City of Fresno

Downtown Fresno's Chukchansi Park could get some new mixed-use neighbors and a makeover, if a new development plan advanced by city officials moves forward.

According to a copy of the proposal obtained by KVPR,  the City of Fresno and the city's redevelopment successor agency are asking developers to submit plans to purchase publicly owned land near the stadium and build housing and retail developments. The project, which would cover over 5 acres, could also include a portion of land within the city-owned Chukchansi Park along Inyo Street. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Craft beer has swept the country and can be found in almost any grocery store in California. One local brewery has helped spearhead the movement in the Central California. FM89 reporter Ezra David Romero visits Fresno based Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company to hear about their latest innovation in brewing.

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Its 7:45 in the morning and Lee Morphew’s work day has just begun. He’s busy prepping for a day of beer making at Tioga-Sequoia Brewing Company in downtown Fresno. He’s Tioga-Sequoia’s head brewer and he loves to create new beer infusions.  

California Bill Would Mandate Paid Rest Breaks for Farm Workers

Mar 31, 2014
Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Paid rest breaks would become mandatory for farm workers and other outdoor workers under a bill now in the California legislature. The measure is an attempt to prevent heat related illnesses. From Sacramento, Max Pringle reports.

People who work outdoors are susceptible to dizziness, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Nicole Marquez with the advocacy group Worksafe says farm workers are commonly paid based on how much they pick.

http://openpv.nrel.gov/visualization/index.php

It’s no secret that solar energy is a trend, but did you know that the Fresno metropolitan area is ranked first in the top 10 metro areas for solar power in the US?

The organization One Block Off the Grid – the Priceline of solar installations – was on a mission to find out which parts of the US use the most solar energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory held their answer through their database the Open PV Project.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

In an ag industry that is dominated by older men, 25 year-old Megan Murphy is hard at work. Not just demonstrating her company’s top product, something called the Dead Blow Hammer, but also in challenging stereotypes: in agriculture, manufacturing and entrepreneurship. She’s the president of Hammer Works Manufacturing in Visalia.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not a woman is normally in that business you can learn it and take over it,” Murphy says.

GSA.gov

For over 60 years, a mammoth cluster of radio towers and transmitters just west of Delano beamed the Voice of America network to shortwave listeners across the globe. 

Now according to the trade publication Radio World, the property could soon get a new use as housing for the homeless.

Built in 1944, the 500,000 watt station turned off its transmitters for the last time in 2007, a victim of government cutbacks and rapidly changing technology.

Google.com / YouTube

It's around 150 miles from Silicon Valley to Fresno, but over the last few years, Mountain View-based Google has quietly been increasing its presence in the San Joaquin Valley. In fact, the region that's known for its raisins and almonds is now home to some of Google's top research and development projects. 

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown toured the World Ag Expo in Tulare Wednesday and weighed into the debate between competing House and Senate plans for response to the state’s drought. Brown says Republicans and Democrats need to find common ground on a bill that will benefit all Californians.

Brown: “This is not a time for rhetoric or the cheesy partisanship we often see in Washington. I’m trying to be the governor of the whole state, bringing people together, get the water in the short term, long term, but when God doesn’t provide the water, it’s not here.”

Ten Speed Press

For years California winemakers have earned their reputation by producing big, bold wines, often known as "fruit bombs." They've also effectively used science and technological advances to make the state a global behemoth in the worldwide industry.

But there’s also something else going on in California -  a new generation of winemakers who are looking to old world traditions for their inspiration, and in the process are creating something truly unique.

California Legislature Holds Joint Fast Food Wages Hearing

Nov 14, 2013
Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are looking at the cost fast food jobs might pass on to state taxpayers. As Max Pringle reports from Sacramento, Wednesday’s hearing was based on a recent UC Berkeley Labor Center study.

The study estimates that more than half of full-time fast food workers rely on public assistance, which costs California taxpayers more than $700 million per year. The Center’s Ken Jacobs says the study contradicts a lot of assumptions about the average fast food worker.

CSU Bakersfield

Technology entrepreneur Elon Musk held court Wednesday night before a packed crowd at Cal State University Bakersfield's Doré Theatre, in the college's new guest lecture series.

The founder of PayPal, and the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, and chairman of SolarCity delivered a free ranging talk that covered everything from travel to Mars to high speed rail. 

Musk criticized the state's high speed rail plan, saying that it isn't "cool." Musk:

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

Representatives of the United Farm Workers are praising a decision by a state official to deny a petition from employees of Fresno-based Gerawan Farming  to de-certify the union. But the decision by the regional director of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board is a blow to a faction of anti-union Gerawan employees.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

The first breeding population of a potentially disease ridden bug that the California citrus industry has been fighting to keep out of the Valley was found in record number in the region Tuesday. Just under 200 Asian citrus psyllids were spotted on three backyard citrus trees in the community of Dinuba.

“We sent out our staff biologist and he was able to see all stages of the ACP, the eggs, the nymphs and the adults on more than one young citrus tree,” says Tom Tucker, the Tulare County assistant agriculture commissioner.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

Throughout Central California those who work in the citrus industry are on edge.  A tiny insect, no larger than an aphid, is threatening the future of the state’s billion dollar citrus crop.

It’s known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid.

“It looks kind of like an aphid, only with a harder body, and a little bit browner," says Beth Grafton-Cardwell, an entomology specialist with the University of California at the Lindcove Research Center just west of Visalia.

And the creature’s babies are just as pleasant.

Fresno's Peak Broadcasting, which owns stations in Fresno and Boise, has changed hands in a complex deal involving some of the nation's biggest radio station owners and operators.

Modern Farmer Magazine

Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are embracing a nationwide trend: America's newfound love affair with food culture. 

You see it everyday on television, at the farmers market, and on thousands of “foodie” blogs online. There are heirloom tomatoes at the local store, artisanal cheeses, and grass-fed beef, all with a focus on quality over quantity.

And in the process, something interesting is happening - farming is actually becoming cool.

Ezra Romero / Valley Public Radio

It’s not just farmers who are taking part in this new trend that is reshaping agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s also consumers. From pop-up “farm to fork” meals to acclaimed local chefs perusing the goods at a rapidly increasing number of local farmers markets, our relationships, our food and those who grow it are changing. And even in an area where fast food and chain restaurants are king, eating local is proving to be more than just a trend for many Valley residents. 

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Chris Shakelford is on a quest for perfect produce.

Rebecca Plevin / Valley Public Radio

A new generation of farmers is challenging our idea of what it means to work in agriculture in the Central Valley. Two special Valley Edition reports examine who these modern farmers are, and how they're connecting with the burgeoning, nationwide interest in boutique culture.

In this audio postcard, 30-year-old Allen Mesick introduces us to Eureka Mohair Farm in Tollhouse, where he and his partner Randy Shumaker raise Angora goats for mohair.

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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