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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.”

California Adds 38,000 Jobs in July

Aug 16, 2013
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The latest California employment numbers are out, and on the surface, July’s 38,000 job gain looks great.  But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, a troubling trend in today’s report calls that gain into question.

The 38,000 job increase is the state’s largest monthly gain this year.  It’s also nearly a quarter of the nation’s total job growth in July.  But citing a flawed seasonal adjustment in teacher jobs, the state is revising June’s 30,000 job gain down to 12,500, and May’s 17,000 increase down to 9,500.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A diamond in the rough. That’s what Los Angeles developer Shay Maghame sees in the 90-year old former J.C. Penney building on downtown Fresno’s Fulton Mall.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin joined Maghame at a press conference today, announcing plans for apartments and retail in the long vacant building, which overlooks Chukchansi Park.

“We stand ready to make sure this is a good business experience for you,” Swearengin says. “We know we are on the right track and your investment proves it.”

Maghame calls the building “The Diamanti.”

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.

Elon Musk

It's an ambitious project that would connect San Francisco and Los Angeles with a high speed transportation system running through the San Joaquin Valley. But it's not California's planned high speed train system. Instead it's called the Hyperloop -  the latest concept from billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

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.

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.

Jackets bearing a logo that is similar to the one used by the United Farm Workers labor union will be removed from Urban Outfitters stores after a dispute over the trademark.

The Economist

Three years ago, The Economist published an article that chronicled the toll the great recession had taken on the people and the economy of the San Joaquin Valley, calling the region the Appalachia of the West.

YouTube user Doug Winston / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkMxEZUAoS8

State officials have launched an investigation into a demolition accident at a former PG&E power plant in Bakersfield which injured several bystanders on Saturday.

The planned implosion of a former PG&E power plant injured several early Saturday morning in Bakersfield.

California Economy Inches Up in World Ranking

Jul 11, 2013

There’s new evidence that California’s economic outlook is improving. A new study shows the state is regaining its place as the world’s eighth-largest economy this year after falling to ninth during the recent downturn. 

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