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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

CA Department of Motor Vehicles

Thousands of California immigrants are taking advantage of the state’s new driver license law. According to new numbers released today, 46,200 undocumented immigrants have applied for driver licenses during the first three days since the law took effect on Friday.

The Department of Motor Vehicles revealed the following statistics:


Starting in 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles expects about 1.5 million undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver license. For many, this will be their first time legally driving in the state.

Immigration advocates applaud this change but also say there's a big concern. Some are worried they will fail the behind the wheel test since it won't be offered in the native languages many immigrants speak.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we a take a look at why some dairies are leaving California for what they say are greener pastures in the Midwest. Also on the program you'll hear the story of a once homeless female veteran who now helps homeless veterans in Fresno.