Here’s why Foster Farms will be adding new jobs at its Livingston chicken plant

Foster Farms employee’s protest for better wages, affordable insurance, new contract
Employees at the Foster Farms Livingston chicken plant protested on Thursday, April 27, 2017, for better wages, affordable insurance and a new labor union contract. (Monica Velez/mvelez@mercedsun-star.com) 

Almond milk is booming. Blue Diamond will expand its Turlock plant to meet the demand

Report: California tops $50 Billion in ag revenue

Central Valley Business TImes

January 8, 2019

  • Nearly 6 percent higher than in 2017
  • “These are still exciting times for agriculture”

California’s farmers and ranchers had more than $50 billion in cash receipts for their output last year, an increase of almost 6 percent compared to 2016, according to the new California Agricultural Statistics Review for crop year 2017. That is nearly double the next highest state, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The Number 2 state is Iowa, followed by Texas, Nebraska and Minnesota. Seven out of the top ten counties for agricultural output value are in the Central Valley: California’s agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities.

Over a third of the country’s vegetables and two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts are grown in California. California is the leading state for cash farm receipts, accounting for over 13 percent of the nation’s total agricultural value. The top producing commodities for 2017 include: Dairy products, milk — $6.56 billion Grapes— $5.79 billion Almonds— $5.60 billion Strawberries— $3.10 billion Cattle and calves — $2.53 billion Lettuce— $2.41 billion Walnuts— $1.59 billion Tomatoes— $1.05 billion Pistachios— $1.01 billion Broilers— $939 million.

“As you know, farming and ranching can be a tough business. But these are still exciting times for agriculture,” says Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture in the report.

“As we move further into the 21st Century we see a worldwide demand for food that is growing rapidly, and a corresponding demand for Californiagrown products that will bring tremendous opportunity for producers able to maintain sustainability in the face of climate change.”

California agricultural exports totaled $20.56 billion for 2017. Top commodities for export in 2017 included almonds, dairy and dairy products, pistachios, wine and walnuts.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/a854fb07-0e00-4ef3-8c8b-cfc37345e907.pdf

The Wonderful Co. raises minimum wage to $15 per hour

PREVPREVIOUSROBERT PRICE: The man who literally cleared the way for the …

  • BY JOSEPH LUIZ jluiz@bakersfield.com
  • Dec 19, 2018

Employees at Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds in Lost Hills clap on Wednesday after hearing that full-time employees will be getting a $15 minimum wage starting Jan. 1. Courtesy photo

Employees at Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds in Lost Hills clap on Wednesday after hearing that full-time employees will be getting a $15 minimum wage starting Jan. 1. 

The Wonderful Co. announced on Wednesday that it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all its full-time California employees as of Jan. 1.

The change will give more than 2,000 of its employees a 36 percent jump in pay, as the company currently pays a minimum wage of $11 an hour. The company said the increase marks an $80 million investment in its workers across all of its divisions and is the largest wage increase in company history.

The move comes as the state is working toward a $15-an-hour minimum wage by 2022. Gov. Jerry Brown approved a law in 2016 that steadily increases the minimum wage by a dollar every year, from $10 to $15.

“This substantial investment in our workers will have an immediate and meaningful impact on their lives,” co-owner Lynda Resnick said. “In addition to providing our Central Valley employees and their families free health care and education, we are now able to help them achieve a significantly improved standard of living.”

The company said employees were notified of the pay increase on Wednesday during meetings at some of the company’s facilities in the county.

“It felt like: Is this really happening?” said Julio Roja, who works as a forklift driver for Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds in Lost Hills. “We were just in shock. Everybody was happy.”

Roja said he thinks the wage increase is going to make a difference not just for his co-workers but for their families as well.

“I feel like it was a good thing they’re doing. I’m excited for everything that’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s going to make a big difference for my family, and for all of us. This is good news for everybody.”

Fellow employee Yesenia Osornio said the wage increase is just one way the company has shown support for its employees and their families.

“It’s a great company to work for, not only for the wages but the charter schools, scholarships and other things that they do,” she said.

Company officials said full-time employees who make more than the benchmark $15 per hour also will benefit with higher wages; however, it’s unclear what the amount might be or when it might happen.

Dave Szeflin, executive vice president of Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds, was excited to see the response the announcement about the increase would get from employees.

“What we’re trying to do is make The Wonderful Company the employer of choice in the Valley, and this is a big step in getting us there,” he said.

Szeflin said he hopes other Kern County companies will follow The Wonderful Co.’s example, but said that is unlikely to happen immediately.

“I don’t think we’re going to see anything in the next few weeks,” he said. “It takes some time to figure out the logistics.”

Wednesday’s announcement caught some industry insiders off guard.

“It certainly surprised us,” said Jeff Huckaby, president and CEO of Grimmway Farms, a leading agricultural company in Kern County. “We currently are evaluating the potential impact and what it means for the future.”

Huckaby said his company will continue to offer their workforce competitive wages and benefits that allow for a sustainable future. He cautioned about equating Grimmway to other ag companies, as it’s not an “apples to apples” comparison.

“Wonderful operates at the higher end of the industry spectrum … higher earnings, higher margins,” he said. “That’s not our business model.”

Bolthouse Farms, another leading agricultural company in Kern County, didn’t return a request for comment on Wednesday

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/the-wonderful-co-raises-minimum-wage-to-per-hour/article_ce450db0-03f9-11e9-b783-7f0b989ff19d.html

An organic eatery went in where? New restaurant brings healthful food to ag heartland

November 07, 2018 05:37 PM

Updated November 07, 2018 06:36 PM

HERE ARE THE VALLEY’S FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES

Published On November 9, 2018 – 7:00 AM
Written By Donald A. Promnitz
The past three years have been good to the staff at Lee’s Heating & Air in Fresno. In fact, at a 128 percent rate of growth between 2015 and 2017, the firm has become one of the fastest growing companies in the Central Valley.

For more information on the fastest growing companies in the San Joaquin Valley, please see The Business Journal’s annual list on page 10.

According to Tom Howard, the owner of Lee’s, this uptick in business can be largely attributed to customer service and reputation, along with upgraded software to connect with customers. Another big factor, however, has been the improvement of the economy, both nationally and locally.

“It allows homeowners to make upgrades that they haven’t been able to make before,” Howard said. “I think that the economy is doing a lot better in the Central Valley than it was in 2009 and 2010 — that definitely helped fuel the growth.”

Howard isn’t alone in his observation. According to Fresno State economist Ernie Goss, the Central Valley — which has previously lagged behind the rest of the state — has been making rapid progress in recent years.

“Now the catch up is really [sped] up, meaning the rate of growth has been positive for quite some time,” Goss said. “But the rate has definitely increased and relative to the U.S., it’s certainly stronger.”

In Goss’s research, he found that overall job growth in the Central Valley over the past 12 months has been 2.6 percent compared to the national average of 1.7 percent. Howard said that his own company has expanded its employment roster from approximately 26 in 2015 to about 50. Meanwhile, expanded business has given Lee’s the ability to pay tuition for his employees who are in college, along with their books.

Goss added that construction and manufacturing are two other sectors to watch. Construction is surpassing the national average with 8.3 percent job growth in the region, while in manufacturing, its 5.1 percent. Delano Construction, LLC of Fresno, which currently has a roster of 26 employees, saw a revenue growth of 208 percent.

The last three years have also proven successful for the solar companies in the region. Topping this industry has been Energy Concepts Enterprises, Inc., which went from revenues of $4.2 million in 2015 to $9.8 million in 2017, a rate of 132 percent. SunPower by Quality Home Services also saw growth of 90 percent in the same time frame, while in Visalia, CalCom Energy was up by 47.46 percent. According to Ryan Gutierrez of Energy Concepts, this has largely been the result of higher utility bills.

“Rates are continually going up,” Gutierrez said. “Solar offers a way for a customer to avoid rate increases by covering their own quest for energy.”

Goss said that tariffs on imported solar panels would further help domestic manufacturers.

Meanwhile, a law passed earlier this year mandating solar panels on new homes could also be good business when it goes into effect in 2020.

For some companies, however, growth isn’t necessarily facilitated by a growing economy. For example, BCT Consulting, Inc. of Fresno, provider of technology solutions, tends to be busier when there’s a dip in the market. This is because their company deals in the outsourcing of technology and helping clients find solutions that are more cost effective.

Nonetheless, BCT has grown by 27 percent. Eric Rawn, president and founder, credited this to acquisitions and mergers, along with community outreach and customer service.

“We don’t want to grow just to grow,” Rawn said. “We want to grow because it makes sense for everyone involved.”

In the months and years to come, Goss added that he has optimism for the future of the San Joaquin Valley. Though he stated concerns about immigration and the agricultural exports being impacted by the current trade war with China, he said the region has become increasingly appealing to the rest of the state.

“So there is the ability of some of those companies coming to Fresno and enjoying many of the benefits of California, but not many of the costs that we’re seeing in San Francisco, for example,” Goss said.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/here-are-the-valleys-fastest-growing-companies/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=612a341302-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_11_20_09_19&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-612a341302-78934409&mc_cid=612a341302&mc_eid=a126ded657

An organic eatery went in where? New restaurant brings healthful food to ag heartland

Updated November 07, 2018 06:36 PM

MANUFACTURER AWARDED TAX CREDIT FOR BIOLA EXPANSION

Published On November 5, 2018
Written By Gabriel Dillard

NutriaAg has been awarded a $180,000 state tax credit to help expand its manufacturing facility in Biola, just west of Fresno.

Headquartered in Toronto, NutriAg makes and distributes environmentally friendly fertilizers and plant nutrients. It opened its Biola plant in 2015.

The tax credit is part of the California Competes program, which is administered through the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz. The credit is aimed at businesses that want to locate or grow in the state.

As part of the tax credit agreement, NutriAg plans to invest $1.62 million in its expansion plans over the next three years, as well as hire at least seven new employees in that span.

All together, GO-Biz on Monday approved $70 million in tax credits for 17 companies that would create more than 2,000 jobs.

Lockheed Martin was awarded a $39.5 million tax credit — the largest single tax credit in the program’s five-year history. The company has committed to adding 450 new jobs in addition to retaining over 2,400 existing employees in its “Skunk Works” operations near Palmdale.

The next application period begins on Jan. 2, 2019 with $75 million in tax credits available.

For more information, visit this blog from the Fresno County Economic Development Corp.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/manufacturer-awarded-tax-credit-for-biola-expansion/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=e403c6474a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_11_05_09_09&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-e403c6474a-78934409&mc_cid=e403c6474a&mc_eid=a126ded657

Gallo will expand into vacant Seneca fruit cannery in Modesto

Seneca on Finch Road in Modesto, Calif. is pictured on Monday October 29, 2018. E.&J. Gallo Winery has purchased part of the vacant fruit cannery for wine production purposes.
Seneca on Finch Road in Modesto, Calif. is pictured on Monday October 29, 2018. E.&J. Gallo Winery has purchased part of the vacant fruit cannery for wine production purposes. Joan Barnett Lee jlee@modbee.com

South Valley Industrial Summit

Join us Wednesday, November 14th for the
optional pre-summit workshops offered free of
charge to industry partners. Come and learn about
new technologies and processes.
Thursday, November 15th is designed to be a
full-day event that will feature vendor booths,
keynote speakers, and various breakout sessions
offered by industry experts and practitioners.
Keynote Speakers
 President & CEO, California Dairies
 Faraday Future
 Surf Ranch, Kelly Slater Wave Company
NEW! Optional Pre-Summit Workshops
Nov. 14
 Lean Principles
 ABB Inc in Robotics
 Variable Frequency Drive Basics & Control Methods
 Intro to Machine Vision
 Safety Solutions: Introduction to Automation Safety