California

Diana Aguilera / Valley Public Radio

Every summer and fall, PRIMA brand peaches and grapes from Fresno-based Gerawan Farming can be found in supermarkets across the country. But the workers who pick that fruit are currently at the center of one of California’s biggest labor conflicts. FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports that the stakes for both the company and the United Farm Workers are high.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

On this week's program Reporter Ezra David Romero visits the Central Valley community of Fairmead where dozens of private wells have gone dry.

Also on Valley Edition Reporter Jeffrey Hess looks at a program helping people find jobs along the future high speed rail corridor.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Reporters flocked to the Valley town of East Porterville last year where over 600 private wells went dry. This year many other towns are facing a similar plight, including the community of Fairmead. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero visits the community and finds an aging population with people whose basic needs are on the brink.

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California's drought and last week's mandatory water cutbacks announced by Governor Jerry Brown have ignited a national controversy over valley agriculture. Brown called for a mandatory 25 percent reduction in water use by residents in cities, but his order left out agriculture. 

Governor Jerry Brown announced Wednesday the first mandatory water restrictions in the Golden State’s history. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on how farmers in the Central Valley are reacting to the plan.

With the lowest snow pack in history Governor Jerry Brown says the drought demands unprecedented action. He’s mandating new conservation methods including new agricultural water use reporting guidelines.

Cannon Michael farms 10,000 acres of tomatoes and corn in Central California. He says the impacts on agriculture from the edict are limited.

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California was once the number one cotton growing state in the nation, but the drought has changed that. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on why the total cotton acreage in the state has dropped.

California cotton farmers are in the process of planting over 170,000 acres of the crop.

That sounds like a lot, but according to Roger Isom the number of acres expected to be planted in the state this year have plummeted to the point of plantings not seen since around 1910.

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Valley grape growers and winemakers are responding to a new lawsuit that claims many lower priced California wines contain too much arsenic. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports.

Popular California wines like the so-called “Two-Buck Chuck” sold at Trader Joes are the subject of the suit. It alleges commercial lab tests found arsenic levels exceeding the levels allowed in drinking water in over two dozen California wines. The plaintiffs claim the wines could pose a health risk.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California is now in the fourth year of its on-going drought, and this winter’s meager snowpack has water experts worried, thanks to remarkably warm temperatures. But scientists at Stanford’s Woods Institute for the Environment say that in just a few decades, this severe condition could be the new norm, thanks to climate change.

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Last week, an ambitious planned development that seemingly died during the recession reemerged in rural Kings County.

The developers behind the proposed community of Quay Valley say this new city of 75,000 people would be located on a barren stretch of Interstate 5 south of Kettleman City.

While things like water, infrastructure and jobs all remain big questions, the developers have announced one other detail – a planned 5 mile test track for entrepreneur Elon Musk’s proposed Hyper Loop.

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California was once a national model for good governance. But after a decade of near constant budget battles and staggering deficits, in recent years the state has been more of a model of political dysfunction.

A new book by Fresno State political science professor Jeff Cummins examines California’s budget problems. It’s called “Boom and Bust: The Politics of the California Budget.”

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