STOCKTON Despite missing an important deadline last week, a California legislator seeking to change the state-regulated price of milk used in cheesemaking pledged to carry on the fight. "This is something that is a very high priority for me. We are determined to get this done," said Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.
SACRAMENTO A centuries-old technique called dry farming once the order of the day in the Central Valley is once again drawing the interest of some of the region's farmers. The technique is as simple as it is risky. Dry farming relies solely on rainwater to keep crops growing throughout a dry season. Used for centuries in the Mediterranean region to grow crops such as olives and grapes, the technique is not for the faint of heart.
FRESNO Strong demand, an ongoing drought and a dwindling supply are contributing to high honey prices in the United States. Last year, prices rose to a record $1.95 a pound for honey sold through cooperatives, private and retail outlets. That was up 11 percent from the previous year. Many say prices, especially at the retail level, may rise even higher.
In the coming weeks, harvest season will begin in the valley for apricots, figs, peaches, plums and tomatoes. Nut crops and sweet potatoes are harvested in late summer and through the fall.
MERCED The Merced County Fair is just around the corner, and organizers are reminding all those planning on entering an exhibit to bring it to the fairgrounds by Saturday. Entries will be accepted from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Exhibits should be brought to the fairgrounds at 900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
LIVINGSTON The Merced River, to many residents, is an indelible feature of summer fun in the region whether one is fishing under the saffron sun or floating in a raft from Snelling to Livingston.For Thomas Harmon it's more than that. It's an indispensable natural resource that must be appreciated and protected for future generations to enjoy and learn from.
MADERA After Paulino Mejia crossed the border illegally into the United States in 1980, he picked grapes, peaches and other crops in California's agricultural heartland, lived in crowded rental housing, hid from immigration agents and sent paychecks to family in his native Mexico.
SACRAMENTO Dairy farmers Monday urged the state yet again to boost minimum prices they get from processors.Western United Dairymen, based in Modesto, and allied groups asked the California Department of Food and Agriculture to increase the price for milk that is made into cheese.
WASHINGTON Walk the aisles of any neighborhood grocery store today and you're as likely to find tomatoes picked in Sinaloa, Mexico, as Central California or oranges from São Paulo, Brazil, as Bradenton, Fla.
LIVINGSTON The hot valley sun has started beaming down on area farms, ripening fruits such as blueberries, cherries, apricots and strawberries. Through fall, fresh and locally produced fruits will fill farm stands and markets.Fruit harvested in Merced County brings in a gross return of $132 million, according to the county agricultural department's latest annual crop report.That's nowhere near the more than $1.1 billion provided by the county's top farm commodity, dairy, but agricultural officials say such crops are an important part of the area's economic landscape.
TURLOCK A gathering in Turlock on Wednesday will explore how to draw tourists to farms, rivers and other San Joaquin Valley attractions.
TURLOCK Farmers in the Turlock Irrigation District got a small boost Tuesday in the amount of water available this year.
Apple, the high-tech company, is helping to protect apples, the fruit, along with other crops around the state. A new campaign urges residents to take photos of invasive insects and plants with their iPhones or iPads. They can then transmit the images to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which will determine whether they are a threat.
MERCED Heading into a likely bone-dry growing season, irrigation officials are offering a new program for farmers who are willing to pay for extra water. Farmers have placed orders for only about half of the available supply, but irrigation officials said the pilot program has been "extremely successful" and will continue into the future.
SACRAMENTO At least one member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority board wants to know more about the prospective construction contractor for the first stretch in Fresno and Madera before he votes to award a contract next month. At the agency's meeting Thursday in Sacramento, board member Jim Hartnett of Redwood City took note of a "significant difference" between the technical scores of the two lowest bidders for the 29-mile route.
The federal government Thursday projected a near-record almond crop in California this year -- a boon to an industry that has had little trouble finding buyers around the world. The estimate of 2,000,700,000 pounds was announced at the Modesto headquarters of the Almond Board of California. "I think we need that much or more to satisfy our constantly growing market," said Ron Fisher, owner of Fisher Nut Co. of Modesto. "It's been remarkable."
With a deadline less than two weeks away, officials say hundreds of regional farmers have not signed up for the state's mandatory "nitrogen budgeting" program aimed at improving groundwater quality.
MODESTO The intriguing idea of merging the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts is resurfacing, this time with the MID board chairman's support. "I think it could save us in the long run," Nick Blom said Thursday. "We are duplicating a lot of administrative stuff (and other functions). Maybe if we work together, it could be done more efficiently."
An internship program aimed at improving energy efficiency for farmers in Merced County is under way. The Agricultural Energy Efficiency Internship Program provides energy strategies for agricultural operations in Merced County, according to a news release from the Great Valley Center. It teamed up with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to offer the program.
WASHINGTON A politically difficult bill allowing the expansion of Lake McClure will now test whether Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, has learned how to move the levers of California water. As chairman of the House water and power subcommittee, McClintock can showcase his favorite issues. He did so Thursday, presenting to another House panel his legislation allowing potential expansion of Lake McClure by the Merced Irrigation District.
FRESNO Farming interests in Madera and Merced counties dropped their environmental lawsuit challenging the first section of the statewide high-speed rail project. The California High-Speed Rail Authority and representatives of several agricultural organizations announced the settlement Thursday afternoon after Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley signed off on it, less than 24 hours before attorneys were to argue their points in Frawley's courtroom.
MERCED American Rivers, a national river conservation group, called attention to the Merced River on Tuesday by naming it on the most endangered rivers list for 2013. Steve Rothert, California regional director with American Rivers, said the Merced River was mentioned because of a proposed reservoir expansion project. The $40 million venture would expand reservoir capacity by up to 70,000 acre-feet by raising the spillway as much as 10 feet at its main storage reservoir, Lake McClure.
MERCED The Merced Irrigation District board of directors approved a pay increase under a new contract on Tuesday with its union workers. After only two months of negotiations, the irrigation district and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have reached an agreement to boost wages and benefits for the district's 90 union workers.
MERCED The deadline is fast approaching for farmers to sign up under the state's groundwater-quality management program, which requires growers to keep "nitrogen budgets."Preliminary data suggest that hundreds, if not thousands, of commercial agricultural landowners have yet to sign up under the program.
FRESNO More than 200 people crammed their way into Fresno City Hall on Thursday, making the most of their chance to tell the California High-Speed Rail Authority how they feel about plans for a statewide high-speed train system and proposed routes through the San Joaquin Valley.
ATWATER About half of Atwater High School's student body is involved in the school Agriculture Department's semi-annual plant sale coming next month, followed by the entry of plants in the Merced County Fair's horticulture exhibits in June.
Already reeling from a paltry allocation of federal water from the Central Valley Project, farmers on the west side of the valley were stung last week when their anticipated supplies were cut even further.