Business & Economy

Business news

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. 

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