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

Dentistry company expands in Stockton

 

Central Valley Business Times

January 7,2019

  • Western Dental opens its first pediatric dental office
  • “The new office builds upon our solid base in Stockton”

Western Dental & Orthodontics, one of the nation’s largest oral healthcare and orthodontics companies, is opening its first children’s dentistry offices in Stockton.

The new office, at 616 West Hammer Lane, will serve pediatric patients exclusively. Western Dental also owns and operates five other Western Dental offices in Stockton, which serve patients of all ages.

“Our pediatric dental team is excited to be part of the Stockton community in this beautiful new office with state-of-the-art digital equipment,” says Syed Hyder, managing doctor for the new Stockton office.

The 3,500 square-foot office has been designed with colorful graphics. The pediatric dental services include sealants to help  prevent cavities, fluoride treatments, and a full-service orthodontics department.

“The new Western Dental Kid’s office in Stockton builds upon our solid base in Stockton and expands access to children in the area,” says John Luther, chief dental officer for Western Dental.

On the rise? The Central Valley is beating the Bay Area and L.A. in key measures

Bitwise gets grant for job readiness program

Central Valley Business Times 

December 19, 2018

• James Irvine Foundation ponies up $350,000

 • “Unexpected people and places have huge contributions to make”

Bitwise Industries Inc. of Fresno says it has received a two-year grant of $350,000 from the James Irvine Foundation to help pay for its Geekwise Academy web developer job readiness programs.

The programs train unemployed and underemployed workers in the San Joaquin Valley for middle-wage jobs in the tech industry.

“The assumption that to be successful in technology, you must be a computer scientist in the Silicon Valley with a degree from a high-profile university, is one that has kept people in the Central Valley from exploring computer programming as a career,” says Irma Olguin Jr., co-founder and CEO, Bitwise  Industries. “We know that, if given an opportunity, unexpected people and places have huge contributions to make to the technology industry.”

One of the biggest problems facing the tech industry is the inabilityto find talent fast enough to keep up with demand. The purpose of Geekwise, theeducational arm of Bitwise, is to train software developers in Fresno. To date,Geekwise says it has educated 3,500 students and intentionally cultivated astudent population that is more than 50 percent female, 50 percent minority and20 percent first-generation immigrant.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/3834d3d7-5da2-43f5-aa83-1088bc4a2dc0.pdf

Fresno’s first Black Bear Diner is opening soon — and the restaurant is hiring

BY BETHANY CLOUGH

DECEMBER 20, 2018 01:03 PM

Black Bear Diner is taking over the former Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery space on West Shaw Avenue. It is slated to open in February or March of 2019. 

The first Black Bear Diner in Fresno is one step closer to opening.

The owner of the restaurant said Thursday that the location at 3602 W. Shaw Ave. is scheduled to open in February. She has not set an exact date.

The restaurants are hugely popular among diners in the central San Joaquin Valley, who have long wanted to open one in Fresno.

The Fresno Black Bear is owned by Amy Rose, who revealed new details about the restaurant Thursday.

It is taking over the 7,108-square-foot former Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery near West Shaw and Marty avenues. It will seat 226 people.

The diner will have a meeting room with Wi-Fi available for large groups.

Black Bear Diner will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

The location will employ 92 people and has hired some workers, but is looking for more. Available positions include cooks and prep cooks and experienced servers, hosts and bussers. 

Interested applicants can apply online at Indeed.com. Positions range from minimum wage to $16 an hour, according to the website.

This will be Black Bear’s seventh restaurant in the area owned by the Rose family, including Bob Rose, who owns locations in Visalia, Madera, Tulare, Porterville, Hanford and Los Banos. The family had been planning to build a location in Clovis, but decided to open the restaurant in Fresno instead.

The brand has 119 diners in 12 states.

https://www.fresnobee.com/living/food-drink/bethany-clough/article223368015.html


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

UC Merced working to open new management school

UC Merced is growing and changing and one of the biggest changes will be a new standalone business and management school.By Nathalie GrandaFriday, December 14, 2018 04:18PMMERCED, Calif. (KFSN) –UC Merced is growing and changing and one of the biggest changes will be a new standalone business and management school.

The university is working to create a new interdiscplinary school, one that university officials are calling the “management school of the future”.

“We’re taking existing programs, putting them together and focusing them together on this complex system,” Gallo School Planning Initiative Director Paul Maglio said.

The new Gallo school will bring together educators from the schools of engineering, natural sciences and humanities to teach students under one main focus. The university is already known for its focus on research and science, and the new school will be incorporating those science components into their program.

“In a business school, you tend to focus on profit. In natural resources you tend to focus on the planet. In cognitive science, you tend to focus on people. We’re bringing all that together to have a sustained focus all at the same time,” Maglio said.

The university’s Ernest & Julio Gallo School of Management already has graduate business programs.

Graduate student Taylor Fugere said the science-based business program is what drew her to UC merced, and she’s hopes a new school will bring more interested students.

“I think UC merced moving in that more specialized direction is going to be really helpful in people being able to explore different career options, and being able to have more opportunities for a hands-on educational experience.”

The process will take a few years. Ultimately, the new school will need to be reviewed and approved by several campus administrators, and the University of California regents. University officials hope to have the school in place by 2021.

https://abc30.com/education/uc-merced-working-to-open-new-management-school/4898598/

It’s a great time to be a blue-collar worker

By Bloomberg NewsPosted Dec 16, 2018 at 12:17 PM  

Worker shortage turns US labor market on its head as lower-paying jobs become plentiful and put pressure on employers to pay higher wages.

A surprise shortage of blue collar workers is changing the contours of the U.S. labor market, boosting their pay, narrowing wage inequality and drawing more women into those jobs.

The shortfall is being driven by a shrinking supply of manual and low-pay service workers as the labor force becomes more educated and less willing to take on such jobs, according to a new Conference Board study.

“The divergence between blue collar and white collar supply is going to persist and even become bigger through 2030,” Gad Levanon, chief economist for North America at the New York-based research group and one of the authors of the report, said in an interview.

That is likely to keep upward pressure on labor costs in such industries as construction, transportation and accommodation and food services. It also has implications for inflation and for the Federal Reserve as Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues try to sustain the 9-1/2-year-old expansion without overheating the economy. Unemployment at 3.7 percent is the lowest since 1969 and running well below Fed estimates for its long-run sustainable rate.

“The acute shortage of talent in the blue collar space is very, very pronounced,” said Peter Quigley, executive vice president at Kelly Services Inc., a staffing company with branches in all 50 states.

Manufacturers and other companies with physically demanding jobs are finding it tough to fill those positions when baby boomers retire. “It’s harder and harder to attract younger people into those jobs, either because they’re pursuing education alternatives or the stigma associated with light industrial work,” Quigley said.

The supply of lower-skilled workers is also being squeezed by growth in the number of Americans who’ve claimed disability benefits and dropped out of the labor force. Exacerbated by the opioid epidemic, that’s much more concentrated in the population without a bachelor’s degree, the Conference Board report says.

Tighter restrictions on immigration are also playing a role and will continue to do so in the future, said Moody’s Analytics’s Chief Economist Mark Zandi. Many of those foreign workers are lower-skilled and in industries such as construction and farming.

Automation and off-shoring were widely expected to devastate demand for industrial workers and depress their pay, especially when compared with their more educated counterparts. But that hasn’t happened, at least so far, according to the Conference Board: Blue collar and low-pay services jobs have grown as rapidly as total employment since the economy began recovering in June 2009

For much of this expansion, manufacturers and other companies have been slow to ramp up capital spending and step up automation, opting instead to take on more workers to meet rising demand for their products and services.

That’s been reflected in the slow growth of productivity: Output per hour worked has risen at an annual average rate of 1.2 percent since the recession ended in June 2009, well below the 2.2 percent post World War II pace.

Companies may also be approaching the limits of how much of their operations they’re willing or able to outsource. “We’re probably in the third and maybe fourth cycle of outsourcing,” Quigley said. “Most of the large companies, if they were going to outsource, they’ve already done it.”

The combination of surprisingly robust demand for blue collar workers and their limited supply is forcing companies to increase pay at the bottom end of the scale. Minimum wage increases have also helped those less well-off.

That’s helping to reverse the decades-long trend toward greater wage inequality, according to Levanon, who co-wrote the report with economist Frank Steemers.

Besides granting bigger wage increases, companies are getting creative in offering other perks to employees, including more breaks, re-jigged work schedules and greater flexibility for working parents, Quigley said.

The improved packages look to be attracting more women into blue collar jobs. “It helps remove some of the inhibitions or reluctance” some women may have in taking those positions, Levanon said.

The increase in female participation is particularly evident in the transportation sector, where demand for workers has taken off because of the growth of online shopping. “It’s probably ground zero for labor shortages,” Levanon said.

“Lower income workers are doing better,” Moody’s Zandi said. “The balance of power has shifted from employers to employees.”

https://www.recordnet.com/zz/news/20181216/its-great-time-to-be-blue-collar-worker

Winery amid latest growth spurt


December 15, 2018

|John Rieping

John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
From left, Quady Winery controller Doug Dennis, marketing manager Colin Hough, and winemaker Darin Peterson stand in a warehouse built in 1983 and designed by San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz and winery founder Andrew Quady.

On April 14, 1984, Quady Winery officially broke ground on phase one of its new facility designed by San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz and vintner Andrew Quady.
According to the Madera T

ribune, the new building would allow the family winery to bottle its wines year-round, instead of only in winter and spring, thus tripling output. But it was just the first of several phases planned, and the design of Quady and Saitowitz wouldn’t be fully realized until 1998.


Now the winery is more than halfway through a new series of expansions that may be complete as early as 2021.


“We’re in year three of a five-year expansion project where we’re growing the winery from roughly 70,000 cases to 160,000 cases” of annual production, said Doug Dennis, controller of the winery.


“We were about 110 (thousand) last year,” explained marketing manager Colin Hough. “We did about 130 (thousand) this year.”


“And even more next year,” predicted winemaker Darin Peterson, who said 85-90 percent of the grapes used in the wines are Madera grown, though some grapes come from as far away as Manteca.


“Obviously Darin has his work cut out for him making the wine, finding the grapes, and maintaining the rigorous standards that we have,” said Hough about the rapid growth. “And that’s of utmost importance to us.”


This year, the winery finished building a 22,000-square-foot warehouse. Rather than emphasize “visual impact” as with the winery’s earliest expansion, the trend now is using technology “to make a huge impact on how productive the business is,” Dennis said.


To beat the heat, the new warehouse is covered in 500 white panels that are each four inches thick, and beside it sits a “heat exchanger” with about 28 times the cooling capacity of a typical home air conditioner, as estimated by the U.S. Department of Energy.


Part of the warehouse holds 350,000 gallons of moscato wine in towering metal tanks, and is cold enough to develop indoor fog on rainy days. “You could not see the ceiling it was that foggy,” said Dennis. “I’m not exaggerating.”


The tanks are individually temperature controlled.


“The whole goal is to keep stuff stable, chilled and under control” for slow fermentation, said Peterson. “The consequence of that is this whole thing draws down” temperatures inside and outside the tanks, “and eventually the chilling power of the (ammonia) glycol (cooling) system will keep the rest of the building cool as well.”


The winery may add three more wine tanks in the next few years, resulting in about 360,000 more gallons in capacity.


“The (180,000 gallon) tank we’re putting outside is basically 32 feet in diameter by 35 feet tall,” said Dennis. “It will dwarf these” indoor tanks. “As soon as the weather breaks and we get a few dry days, we’ll start on the foundation. It will probably be serviceable in a March-April time frame.”


Not yet finished, the warehouse will eventually feature five offices, a laboratory, a cafe-like break room, a conference room, restrooms, and an observation deck.


The Quady family has tried to make its latest expansions “green,” according to Dennis. The LED lighting of the warehouse only consumes about 500 watts, he said, and office area sensors will adjust light intensity based on “whether someone is in the room, how bright it is outside,” etc. Photovoltaic solar cells able to generate 300 kilovolts sit on winery buildings to help power the facilities. In the future, a Tesla Powerwall to store energy may be added, which would allow the winery to be more electrically self-sufficient.


All the recent expansions are, of course, not without cost.


“It’s a pretty big, seven-digit investment,” Dennis said. “I think this building, when it’s completed with the tanks, will be $3.5” to $4 billion.


Dennis said they’re looking forward to putting the current expansions behind them and enjoying the benefits.


“A project of this scope is not for the faint of heart … It’s a dance that you really have to do,” he said, “and it has to be well orchestrated and coordinated, especially to do it in a timely fashion as we’re finding out three years into the expansion project.”

http://www.maderatribune.com/single-post/2018/12/15/Winery-amid-latest-growth-spurt

New fertilizer plant opens in Turlock

Central Valley Business Times

• Darling Ingredients plant to make organic fertilizer

• Will target California and other Western markets

An organic fertilizer production facility is being opened inTurlock by Darling Ingredients Inc. (NYSE: DAR) of Irving,Texas.The facility is located on a 21-acre site and will have the ability to make 35,000 tons of fertilizer a year. It will be marketed under the brand name Nature Safe Natural & Organic Fertilizer.The new plant will also provide 4,500 tons of storage capacity to meet the needs of organic growers operating in California and the West. the company says.

Darling has been making its organic fertilizer at its original Henderson, Kentucky, plant since the early 1990’s, where it will continue to produce for customers in the rest of the country. The company says the strength of the organic fertilizer market in the western U.S. has it working on plans to double the new Turlock plant’s production capacity by end of year 2019.

The company is focused on a growth strategy in California where it can leverage Darling’s diverse supply of animal feed ingredients, says Mike Manning, Darling’s vice president of organic fertilizer and innovation. With long-established rendering facilities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno and Turlock that produce feather meal, blood meal, and meat &bone meal, the company is able to produce the high quality organic fertilizers with cost-effective proficiency, he says.

When the new Turlock plant begins production in January, it will bring on a new management team. West Regional Commercial Business Manager Dan Rodriguez will develop go-to-market strategies. Kevin Van Dewark has joined Darling Ingredients as plant manager for the new Turlock fertilizer plant, and Mayra Pena will be its new office manager.

https://files.constantcontact.com/2cb20f61601/6163f145-feb6-4eac-92f4-3a0b89e1b400.pdf