Agriculture

Amy Wu

A new book from journalist and author Amy Wu explores how a growing number of women are blending agriculture with technology to find new solutions to feed the world. Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke to Wu about her book, “From Farms to Incubators: Women Innovators Revolutionizing How Our Food is Grown,” and how women are bringing a diversity of perspective to the agricultural industry.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news now - California's Central Valley is home to some of the state's most fertile land, and now the heat wave has farmers worried about whether their crops there will survive. On Sunday, temperatures climbed to 114 degrees. Valley Public Radio's Alice Daniel reports.

Mark Arax

Writer Mark Arax has been working to uncover some of the forgotten history that explains how many neighborhoods in Fresno were established. What he discovered was that some of the city's largest housing developers used restrictive real estate covenants to prevent Armenians and people of color from living in certain neighborhoods. Valley Edition host Kathleen Schock spoke with him about the legacy of this practice and what it might mean for Fresno’s future.  

Lois Henry

The Kings County city of Corcoran is slowly but steadily sinking, as much as 11½ feet in some places over the last 14 years. Lois Henry, a journalist with SJV Water, recently wrote about it for the New York Times. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with her about how agriculture, and its reliance on groundwater, is to blame. 

John Estrada

 

Clovis North High School sophomore John Estrada has qualified for the state science fair four times since middle school. But his project this year, a drought-detecting robot, earned the 16-year-old top honors at the world’s largest science competition, the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair

 

A coalition of San Joaquin Valley leaders, legislators and farmers came together Friday to declare a regional drought emergency for Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. They spoke at Harlan Ranch in Clovis. Behind the speakers, fallowed trees were heaped in piles of dried wood. 

Sen. Andreas Borgeas led the coalition in urging the governor to take immediate action. 

“There is no question, California is in a drought. Even the U.S. Ag Secretary has declared 50 California counties to be natural disaster zones because of drought,” he said.

On this week’s Valley Edition: Kern County farmers talk about how President Trump’s immigration policies affect the industry.

Plus, we hear from young community organizers in Fresno and Bakersfield who say they’re fed up with the current political system and are working to bring about change. 

Later, we speak to the president of California State University, Bakersfield as the school celebrates 50 years of education.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above.

Joe Moore (file photo) / Valley Public Radio

Fresno and Tulare Counties declared local emergencies Thursday after rendering plant Baker Commodities in Kerman stopped accepting livestock carcasses. 

Jimmy Andreoli, a spokesman with the company, says it has reached its limit in how many animals it can process according to its permit with the state Air Resources Board. If it surpasses that limit, it could be fined. 

Christopher Greer, the assistant agricultural commissioner in Tulare County says the summer heat kills more cows.  

On this week’s Valley Edition: One Clovis woman hasn’t left her house since visiting Southern California in March. We hear how she’s been sheltering in place with three disorders that put her at risk of severe COVID-19.

And distance learning is a new experience even for seasoned public school teachers. But what about educators who have just started their careers? What’s it like for them? 

And later, we speak to a Guardian reporter who is investigating how agricultural workers have been hit hard by COVID-19. 

On this week’s Valley Edition: We’ll hear firsthand accounts of how COVID-19 has impacted conditions for those working in the fields.

We also talk to a reporter who spent three weeks in Kern County’s corner of the Mojave Desert. Her new podcast investigates false promises of wealth in California City. 

And, we discuss what will happen to Valley renters out of work because of COVID-19 and potentially facing homelessness when the state’s eviction moratorium is lifted.

Listen to those stories and more on the podcast above. 

Courtesy of The Wonderful Company

The largest agricultural employer in the San Joaquin Valley announced today that it’s providing $1 million in grants to support COVID-19 relief in rural communities. 

Fruit and nut powerhouse The Wonderful Company says the form of that relief will be decided by community non-profits applying for grants. 

Alice Daniel / KVPR

 

 

Outside the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Fresno, volunteers unload boxes of ribbed sinqua from a farmer’s pickup truck.  

“All right they’re all good to go,” a young man says. “All of it?” another volunteer asks as he and others line up to carry the boxes of vegetables inside.

 

This week on Valley Edition: We learn more about an organization in Fresno that’s buying crops from small farmers to help offset the huge losses growers are experiencing due to COVID-19.

Plus, a man currently incarcerated at Avenal State Prison describes the toll that COVID-19 has taken on life behind bars, including months without seeing loved ones. 

 

And documentary filmmakers tell us what it’s like inside the Mesa Verde detention center in Bakersfield.

 

Ezra David Ramero / KVPR

Farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley are more likely to get COVID-19 than in other service industries. They’re also facing job losses, according to a new study released Tuesday. 

The COVID-19 Farmworkers Study surveyed 900 farmworkers about their work conditions, health care access, and pay during the pandemic. Nayamin Martinez, executive director for the Central California Environmental Justice Network, said 43% of the farmworkers surveyed reported not receiving face masks from their employers. 

Joel Martinez

As COVID-19 cases in the San Joaquin Valley continue to climb, the Fresno County Department of Agriculture recently secured nearly one million masks to help protect the county’s agricultural workers.  

 

Melissa Cregan, the agricultural commissioner for the county, said the masks came from California’s Department of Food and Agriculture and the Office of Emergency Services.

 

“We’ve probably received over 800,000 of the face coverings and we’ve distributed probably over 700,000 of those,” said Cregan.  

 

African American Farmers of California

Small farms are at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley’s rich agricultural industry, but the challenges facing these operations are numerous. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock checked-in with three Fresno County farmers about the most recent obstacle they are facing: COVID-19. She spoke with grape and raisin farmer Steven Cardoza, Chue Lee of Lee's One Fortune Farm and Will Scott Jr. who in addition to running Scott Family Farms is also the president of the African American Farmers of California.

UC Merced

The San Joaquin Valley is accustomed to dealing with drought, but when those conditions last for decades, scientists call it a megadrought. According to a study recently published in the journal Science, the Southwest is currently experiencing a nearly two-decade megadrought that is fueled in part by global warming and is among the worst in human history. Valley Edition Host Kathleen Schock spoke with John Abatzoglou, a co-author of the study and climatologist who will join the faculty at UC Merced this summer.

 

Lisa Blecker, Kristen Beall Watson and Laura Moreno

COVID-19 is disproportionately hurting vulnerable communities like seniors, ag workers and the homeless. To learn about efforts to protect these at-risk populations, FM89's Kathleen Schock spoke with Lisa Blecker, pesticide safety education program coordinator for the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Laura Moreno, chair of the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care, and Kristen Beall Watson, CEO of the Kern Community Foundation.

Alex Hall / KQED

President Donald Trump was in Bakersfield for a short visit Wednesday to sign a Presidential Memorandum to commit more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers. He spoke to an invitation-only crowd of about 2,000 people.

Department of Pesticide Regulation Youtube Page

Pesticide regulations can be tough to understand, especially among communities that don’t speak English. Recently, however, with the help of local ag advisors and video production students at Fresno State, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulations released a series of how-to videos about pesticides in Hmong.

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