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Agriculture

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

“Fish vs farms”: It’s the perennial tug-of-war for water between environmentalists, who want to see stable ecosystems in the Sacramento-San-Joaquin River Delta, and farmers, who feel slighted that they need to fight with endangered fish in order to irrigate their fields.

On this week’s Valley Edition: More than half of California’s olive groves are right here in the San Joaquin Valley. But Tulare County growers say that with a major olive cannery set to buy more Spanish olives, the future for olive production looks grim.   

Plus, it’s Women’s History Month. We sat down with three young, dynamic leaders to ask about the women who inspire them.

And later, we learn more about President Trump’s plans to rewrite rules that govern water allocations and infrastructure in the San Joaquin Valley.  

Laura Tsutsui / Valley Public Radio

Farmers donning boots and stetsons, marketing-types in polos: The 2019 World Ag Expo in Tulare has a good mix of both. You’ll also find trailers that self-load hay bales, and a so-called, “rugged phablet” - that’s short for phone-tablet - that can withstand being dropped in water. And there's ag groups galore: Future Farmers of America, American Dairymen, and one called FarmHer.

Flickr user WordIslandInfo.com, license CC BY 2.0

The partial government shutdown caused all sorts of headaches for Congress, and it may have tipped the scales when it comes to support for one law that deals with water diversions to the San Joaquin Valley from the San Francisco Bay Delta.

The law is known as Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation, or the WIIN Act. It remains in place until 2021, but many lawmakers had been trying to renew it before the new Congress was sworn in earlier this month.

San Joaquin River Restoration Program

California is often at odds with the Trump administration, and the latest battleground could be in the issue of managing the state's precious water supply. At the same time the state's water board is considering major cuts to water sent to farms and cities, the Trump administration is taking its own actions. Last week the Trump administration served notice that it wants to renegotiate a 32-year-old agreement that governs how the state and federal projects operate and cooperate.

Roundup
Mike Mozart / Creative Commons / Flickr

A jury last week awarded a California man with terminal cancer $289 million dollars in a lawsuit against agri-chemical giant Monsanto. The jury agreed with plaintiff Dewayne Johnson’s claim that his exposure to the popular herbicide Roundup on the job (and its main component known as glyphosate) resulted in his non-Hodgkins lymphoma. With over $250 million in punitive damages in this one case alone, the stakes are high for Monsanto’s owner Bayer. So where does the legal fight go from here, and how does the courtroom differ from the scientific lab when determining the truth?

Flickr user Derek Dirks, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Working 11 hours shifts in corn fields in Mendota is some of the hardest work to do. Add school and immigration court to the mix and you might start losing track of the days, like one teenager who recently moved to the Valley.  

“I would wake up at 11 at night to make food and leave at about 12:15,” he says in Spanish. “We go into work at 1 a.m. and get off at noon that day.”

State Department of Water Resources

For years, farmers in the southern San Joaquin Valley have been struggling with reduced water deliveries. The problem – as they see it – has been reduced pumping out of the Sacramento – San Joaquin River Delta, restrictions in place to help the fragile ecosystem there recover. But species in the Delta and the rivers that feed it are still declining.

Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio

Last week the Trump Administration proposed a set of major changes to the Endangered Species Act. It’s a big issue here in California, where protected species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and in the Sierra have set off new efforts to protect critical habitat. Of course those measures have also proven to be controversial in many areas.

Courtesy Eater.com

It's not as famous - or as spicy - as the jalapeno or the habanero, but the humble Fresno chile is starting to get its due. A new piece in the online food magazine Eater extolls the virtues of this "little pepper that could," by digging into its history and searching out those who love its intriguing, yet approachable flavor.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

For several years, California dairy owners have faced tough times, with low prices and stiff competition from farmers in other states. Many had been looking forward to a new federal milk pricing scheme set to take effect in November as a chance to boost profits. But now, the valley's dairy industry is in the middle of a trade war, threatening lucrative dairy exports to China and Mexico. We spoke with Annie AcMoody of Western United Dairymen of Modesto about how the new retialtory tarrifs are affecting local dairy owners. 

Ernest Lowe

A new exhibit at the Fresno Art Museum opening Friday July 13th, sheds new light on the history of rural African-American communities in the San Joaquin Valley. It features the work of photographer and journalist Ernest Lowe. From 1960-1964 he documented life in the communities of Dos Palos and Pixley, with fine art, black and white photographs.

Ezra David Romero

This year a handful of farmers in the San Joaquin Valley have new crop. But it's not something you'll find at your weekend farmer's market. Instead it's carbon. A new program funded by the state's cap-and-trade initative aims to help farmers add cover crops to their fields, with the idea that more carbon will be stored in the soil in the form of organic matter. It's part of the state's effort to fight climate change.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Last week, the city of Tulare ousted its mayor after he got involved in a heated argument on Facebook. The argument centered around agriculture and its impacts on the environment and the economy—but the story is far bigger than a few punches thrown on social media.

Marc Benjamin / Valley Public Radio

Clovis has a reputation for good schools, walking trails, parks and upscale neighborhoods. It’s also one of California’s faster growing cities. People want to live there. So as the city grows, pressure is growing for developers to add new houses, often converting farmland to subdivisions.  So how do rural residents there coexist with new development while keeping their country way of life? Reporter Marc Benjamin explains how one neighborhood is adapting to change.

Flickr user Derek Dirks, CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

After it was first reported in March, the recent E. coli outbreak in romaine lettuce appears to be drawing to a close. But that’s only after it sickened 172 people in 32 states and resulted in one death in California. Why did it take so long to get under control? One reason is that produce can be difficult to trace from farm to fork, through the sometimes dozens of suppliers, distributors and wholesalers that make up the produce supply chain—but two recent initiatives are attempting to change that.

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

Air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley has improved dramatically over the last few decades, partly thanks to a set of sweeping clean air laws passed in the early 2000s. Over the last few years, however, one major polluting practice has risen steadily. And although it’s unclear if the increase has had an impact on air quality, advocates are concerned it will if the trend continues. We report from a family farm outside Fresno on what’s being done about open agricultural burning.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

The California Water Commission delivered bad news last Friday to the backers of a proposed new dam on the San Joaquin River near Fresno. Supporters had hoped to receive around $1 billion in funding for the $2.7 billion project from the money voters approved in the 2014 Proposition 1 water bond. Instead, the commission awarded Temperance Flat only $171 million. Other proposed storage facilities fared better, such as the Sites Reservoir, which scored nearly $1 billion in funding. So what are the winners and losers saying?

Kerry Klein / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley struggles with environmental pollution. Hundreds of thousands of residents are served with water that’s unsafe to drink, and all of us live under seasonal clouds ozone and particle pollution in the air. Water and air problems are regulated separately, but one contaminant bridges both domains. This story examines why nitrogen is such a persistent problem.

California Citrus Mutual

In response to the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese steel, the Chinese government over the weekend announced tariffs on many American products.

The list of 128 items with new tariffs includes almonds, oranges, grapes and dozens of other crops, which could threaten hundreds of millions of dollars in annual exports out of the San Joaquin Valley. 

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