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. 

2014 Was A Rough Year for California's Farmers and Ranchers

Dec 17, 2014
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California's farmers and ranchers have endured a challenging 2014. Capital Public Radio's Lesley McClurg reports on how they're weathering the drought.

Paula Getzelman says recent rain brings a deep sigh of relief. She and her husband run Tre Gatti Vineyards in Monterey County. 

Getzelman: "We were extremely nervous in 2014. The harvest was a real nail biter."

Production at Tre Gatti was down twenty percent. Getzelman says she feels luckier than some of her neighbors who were down thirty percent. 

Fits and Starts: Central Valley Economy Beginning To Bounce Back

Oct 13, 2014
Julia Mitric / Capital Public Radio

As brutal as the Central Valley economy has fared over the last several years, it’s starting to bounce back. Our series “Fits and Starts” on California’s uneven economic recovery continues with a look at the Central Valley.  

The collapse of the housing market devastated cities like Stockton and Modesto. But the Central Valley’s agriculture industry weathered The Great Recession just fine. It even saw record growth, with one painful exception: dairy.

“It was a bloodbath,” says Tom Barcellos, who owns T-Bar Dairy in Porterville.

Fits and Starts: Bay Area Housing Boom Prices Out Some People

Oct 13, 2014
Capital Public Radio / KPCC

Editor's Note: Five years after the Great Recession officially ended, the California economy looks like a patchwork quilt. All this week, we feature a series from our partners at Capital Public Radio and KPCC on how the strength of California’s economic recovery varies depending on where you live. Capital Public Radio’s Ben Adler kicks the series “Fits and Starts” with a look at the Bay Area, where the tech boom has driven the unemployment rate down – and housing prices up.

  The recession hit Damon Grow swiftly and very hard.

California Economist: No Surprise Tesla Chose Nevada

Sep 4, 2014
Tesla Motors

In a big blow to California, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval says Tesla Motor Company will build a car battery plant in the Silver State.  Sandoval says it will be the world’s biggest and most advanced of its kind. 

California was one of five states vying for the plant that is estimated to build enough batteries to power a half-million vehicles by the year 2020.

Stephen Levy  with the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy says he wasn’t surprised the electric car company chose Nevada over the Golden State.

YouTube/ Kashkari for Governor

Update: 8/5/2014
Neel Kashkari spoke with Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore for the program Valley Edition about his Fresno video and his thoughts on poverty in the San Joaquin Valley. 


Original post:

Neel Kashkari has taken his campaign to become California's next governor to the streets of downtown Fresno in a viral video attacking Governor Jerry Brown's message of a "California comeback."

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A report released today shows that Fresno's agricultural industry has slipped out of its first-place standing in the state.  The 2013 Fresno County crop report shows that its total gross value of agricultural products last year was $6.4 billion, over $1.3 billion behind Tulare County--the first time since 2002 that Tulare swung to the top of the list.

Drought Could Cost California Economy $2.2 Billion In 2014, Says Study

Jul 15, 2014
John Chacon / California Department of Water Resources

The California economy could lose $2.2 billion this year because of the drought. Max Pringle reports on a UC Davis study that shows the agriculture industry alone could lose $1.5 billion.

The study says California will have to make do with a third less water this year and that could lead to 430 thousand acres of fallow farmland. Former UC Davis Economist Richard Howitt says the pain won’t be spread evenly throughout the state.

Downtown Fresno is just 163 miles from Mountain View, the heart of Silicon Valley and the home of tech giant Google, but in many ways it's a world away. But while the San Joaquin Valley may be known more for its produce than its programmers a local competition has been working for the past five years to change that.