Category: Food Processing

WE’RE BACK, BABY! FRESNO TOP AG COUNTY ONCE AGAIN

Workers sort navel oranges earlier this year at Kings River Packing, northeast of Sanger. Photo by David Castellon.

Published On October 8, 2019 – 11:23 AM
Written By David Castellon

For the first time since 2013, Fresno County is the top agricultural county in California and the U.S.

This news comes with the Tuesday morning release of the 2018 Tulare County crop and livestock report, which shows sales of agricultural goods produced there last year totaled more than $7.21 billion, a 2.5% increase from ag sales in 2017.

In 2017, Kern County was the top ag county based on sales, followed by Tulare and Fresno counties, respectively.

But based on this latest crop report and those previously released, Fresno County shot up in the rankings to the top spot, with 2018 gross ag sales totaling more than $7.88 billion, followed by more than $7.46 billion in sales by Kern County farmers, ranchers, apiarists and others.

Although the data on 2018 ag sales isn’t in for all California counties and those in the rest of country, Fresno, Tulare and Kern have far and away been the top ag-producing counties in the nation in terms of ag sales.

For years, Fresno held on solidly to the first-place spot until Tulare County knocked it off that spot in 2014. After that, the top ag county title was held annually by either Tulare or Kern counties.

A big part of the reason for Fresno County falling short of the No. 1 ranking those years was due to California’s five-year drought that began in late 2011— the worst in the state’s recorded history — causing major water shortages in the western end of Fresno County that forced farmers there to limit their farming or let fields go fallow.

Weather and water conditions have since improved in the region.

As for the other South Valley counties, ag sales in Kings County totaled more than $2.35 billion last year and $2.05 billion in Madera County.

Those two counties ranked ninth and eleventh, respectively, among California’s ag counties in 2017.

It wasn’t immediately clear how they ranked statewide or nationally in 2018, as those tallies will not be compiled and disclosed until next year.

Madera, Kings and the other three South Valley counties all saw their ag sales totals increase last year.

For Tulare County, long the top dairy county in the U.S., it’s no surprise milk was the top-selling ag commodity in 2018, with sales totaling more than $1.68 billion. But that was down more than 5% — $93.1 million — from 2017 sales.

The report shows that the price of milk purchased from dairies declined from about $16.39 per hundredweight — 100 pounds — in 2017 by about a dollar in 2018, which reduced the total income dairies in the county received for their milk, even though production was up slightly.

It goes on to say that poultry and livestock values among Tulare County sales also declined slightly in 2018.

Sales of field crops rose nearly 9% from 2017 to 2018, which the county’s agricultural commissioner and his staff attributed to higher prices paid for them, while the 5.7% rise in sales of fruits and nuts is at least partially attributed to farmers expanding their production acreage of blueberries, pomegranates and tangerines.

Sales of ornamental trees and shrubs, as well as nursery-raised products, experienced even more vigorous growth over the same period of 47% and 34.7%, respectively, while sales of vegetable crops declined nearly 16% to $17. 2 million.

Part of the reason for the latter drop was due to farmers harvesting 931 fewer acres of vegetables last year compared to 2017, according to the crop report.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/were-back-baby-fresno-top-ag-county-once-again/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=bfd5b60568-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_10_08_08_31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-bfd5b60568-78934409&mc_cid=bfd5b60568&mc_eid=a126ded657

Pistachio production, revenues on the rise in Kern

 

BY JOHN COX

If pistachios were a football team — and sometimes it does seem like they compete against almonds — they would be climbing the tree-nut power rankings.

Due partly to an exceptional 2018 harvest, pistachios surged two places last year to seize the No. 3 spot in Kern’s ranking of top-grossing crops. They came in just behind almonds and table grapes, the county’s sales leader.

The recent growth is phenomenal for a nut that has been cultivated in the Central Valley since the late 1960s. Kern growers’ pistachio sales jumped 91 percent between 2017 and 2018 to reach $1.06 billion, which according to county reports is more than five times their total a decade earlier.

It’s important to note almonds still lead pistachios locally in gross receipts for reasons that include global consumer trends and investors’ preference for a quicker return on their money. But county records show that while land dedicated to almonds in Kern has grown 70 percent during about the past 10 years to reach 234,670 acres, pistachio acreage is up 172 percent at 141,000 acres.

ALMONDS OR PISTACHIOS?

Behind these numbers is an agricultural community divided over the relative benefits and drawbacks of almonds and pistachios. Few local farmers grow both tree nuts, with the big exception of the region’s largest grower, Los Angeles-based The Wonderful Co. As such, discussions on the merits of growing pistachios usually involve a comparison with almonds.

The biggest differences between growing one or the other is crop heartiness and time to recovering initial investment. Pistachios have much longer productive lives, they can go extended periods without irrigation and are able to make nuts even in areas with low-quality soil and water.

On the other hand, almonds start producing a crop in just about three years — about half the time pistachios require. Not all investors have the means to hold out that long.

“You’ve got a long time when you’re pouring money in and you don’t get much out,” said Newfield Ag Management owner Josh Newfield, who tends to pistachio groves in the McFarland area.

RETURN ON INVESTMENT

Patient growers, however, are generally rewarded with a larger return on their long-term investment, according to analysts with Rabo Agrifinance.

Roland Fumasi, senior fruit, vegetable and tree nut analyst at the company, said pistachios’ gross returns per acre have historically been higher than those of almonds. What’s more, pistachio prices have tended to be more stable.

Although pistachio prices fluctuate more frequently, he said, they do so within a smaller range than almond prices.

‘A GREATER FIT’

Longtime pistachio man Carl Fanucchi, who has in the past grown almonds as well as citrus, said local conditions seem to favor pistachios. They can endure droughts easier, they don’t seem to mind relatively salty water — no small consideration as the state cracks down on the overuse of local groundwater — and their root systems are strong enough to withstand winds that frequently topple almond trees.

“Pistachios are just a greater fit down here,” said Fanucchi, an adviser and former orchard owner who at age 78 has worked locally with pistachios for almost 50 years.

Famoso-area pistachio grower Buck Klein said he, too, used to grow almonds and understands the cash-flow pressure that persuades some investors to grow almonds. But whereas almonds usually live no longer than maybe 20, 25 years, pistachios planted in the late 1960s are still producing nuts.

“My grandkids, great-grandkids will probably be taking care of stuff that I’ve planted,” he said.

WEATHER VULNERABILITY

Changing weather patterns could pose a problem, however.

There have been two disastrous years for pistachio growers in recent memory, in 2003 and 2015. The last time it was because an unusually warm winter threw male and female trees out of sync, leading to the production of a very large number of worthless, “blank” nuts.

The United States’ recent trade wars haven’t helped, either, even as tariffs on U.S. exports have been somewhat easier on pistachios. While China has levied tariffs on almonds and pistachios, India has spared pistachios while charging tariffs on almonds.

IRANIAN COMPETITION

Another challenge on the horizon may be Iran.

The United States is by far the world’s largest producer of almonds. But in the pistachio world, Iran has often challenged the U.S. lead in global production.

There is some concern in California, where almost all domestic pistachio production takes place, that Iran could bounce back from a bad year in 2018. If such a recovery happens, Iran could undercut the United States by selling pistachios to China and India at lower price, said Richard Matoian, executive director of American Pistachio Growers, a Fresno-based trade group.

Still, trading partners like the European Union appreciate U.S. pistachios’ reputation for higher quality and greater consistency, he said.

“For the discerning buyer, it makes a difference,” Matoian said.

HEALTHY CROP

Matoian said this year’s crop is looking good, though not quite as last year’s record-breaking crop, which measured more than 800 million pounds statewide.

This year’s crop will be smaller, he predicted, in part because pistachios alternate between heavy and not-so-heavy years. But things generally look up: Insect damage has been minimal and cool weather conditions have been helpful, he added.

Fanucchi said the bottom line is that pistachios simply perform well for investors, which he noted have included insurance companies and pensions that look for dependable places to put their money for the long term.

“It’s a very interesting tree,” he said. “It’s made a lot of people a lot of money.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/pistachio-production-revenues-on-the-rise-in-kern/article_e998dfa6-ec6a-11e9-9786-bf4461849821.html

Kernville, Bakersfield breweries combine for five medals at nation’s top beer festival

A pair of Kern breweries took home an extraordinary five medals at the Great American Beer Festival last weekend in Denver — a testament, the local winners say, to the county’s sophisticated approach to beer-making.

Kernville’s Kern River Brewing Co. took home two golds and two silvers, as well as the Brewery Group of the Year honor, while Temblor Brewing Co. in Bakersfield won bronze.

“I’m still trying to absorb all this,” said Eric Giddens, who owns KRBC with his wife, Rebecca. The couple had only just arrived home Monday after driving home from Denver.

At an event billed as the most prestigious beer competition in the world, the Brewers Association awarded 318 medals to 283 breweries across the United States. Some whole states didn’t win as many medals as Kern breweries did.

KRBC’s Belgian-style blonde, Nènette, won gold, as did the brewery’s session India pale ale, Gravity Check. Its brown porter, called Brown Claw, and its double hoppy red ale, Side Hike, won silver.

Temblor’s Belgian-style wit, Under a Blood Orange Sky, won a bronze medal.

Temblor’s head brewer, Mike Lahti, said the honor felt good.

“I’ve been doing this 16 years and this is the first (Great American Beer Festival award) for a beer I’ve designed,” he said. “One of those things that every brewer wants to do is get a medal at GABF.”

Lahti added that Kern’s strong showing speaks to the county’s emerging national reputation.

“I think it shows that, obviously, competition amongst ourselves has all helped us challenge ourselves to make better beer, to keep up with the competition,” he said.

Giddens said he and others representing KRBC celebrated the announcement of Temblor’s win as they were picking up their own medals.

“I think (Kern’s combined total of five medals) shows that the beer landscape in Kern County is changing,” he said. “I think people in Kern County are going to start taking notice and enjoying that beer.”

Though dwarfed by the brewing mecca of San Diego County, which won 18 of the 68 medals awarded to the Golden State in this year’s GABF, Kern’s brewing community has come a long way in the last several years. There are now five independent breweries in Bakersfield alone, with another on the way.

In all, the competition judged 9,497 beers from 2,295 breweries.

No brewery company won more medals at this year’s GABF than KRBC, which launched in 2005 and expanded in 2016 to a second location next door.

“What blows me away is that this was the largest beer competition in the world to date,” Giddens said. “For a small brewery in a mountain town in Kern County to come away as the most decorated brewery in the bunch just split my mind.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/kernville-bakersfield-breweries-combine-for-five-medals-at-nation-s/article_7034b2a6-e923-11e9-a43a-c3fa4dc75ca8.html

Tesla’s Semi, solar and battery storage to help Frito Lay cut emissions at CA plant

American snack company Frito Lay has announced that they will make its Modesto, California distribution plant eco-friendly in an attempt to significantly decrease the amount of carbon-emissions the company is producing during its day-to-day operations. The snack-maker will utilize a number of companies to complete the operation, including Tesla.

“We are going to replace 75 pieces of distribution equipment with zero, or near-zero, emissions new equipment across forklifts, tractors, yard tractors within our Modesto operation,” Vice President of Supply Chain for PepsiCo. Michael O’Connell stated in an interview with The Modesto Bee. Frito Lay is a subsidiary of PepsiCo.

Frito Lay has already put down a deposit on 100 Tesla Semi units, 15 of which will be deployed to the Modesto site. The company placed these deposits down on the Silicon Valley-based manufacturer’s new Semi when it was unveiled on November 16, 2017.

The new plan that will cut emissions significantly will be funded by a $15.4 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, also known as CARB. Along with the grant, Frito Lay is investing $13.5 million of its own money, as well as $1.8 million from American Natural Gas. The combined total of the project is $30.8 million.

https://www.teslarati.com/teslas-semi-solar-megapack-frito-lay-modesto-plant/

TWO VALLEY FARMING GIANTS ANNOUNCE COMPLETED MERGER

Gerawan Farms stonefruit is marketed under the Prima brand.

Published On September 25, 2019 – 1:50 PM
Written By The Business Journal Staff

Gerawan Farming and Wawona Packing Co. announced Wednesday that the farming giants have completed a merger.

CEO Dan Gerawan, who is also the largest individual shareholder, will helm the combined company. Brent Smittcamp, current executive chairman of Cutler-based Wawona, “will also remain a significant shareholder and continue to be highly involved with the combined company,” according to a news release.

Paine Schwartz, an existing investor in Wawona, is partnering with both companies to facilitate the transaction, the financial terms of which were not disclosed.

Both companies are third-generation family businesses. Fresno-based Gerawan is a stone fruit farming and packing operation marketed under the Prima brand. Wawona also supplies stone fruit and is a leader in the organic segment of the market, according to the news release.

“At Gerawan, innovating on a large scale to grow, pack and ship the world’s best fruit has been key to our success, and those efforts have always hinged on investing in our employees,” Gerawan said in a statement. “These same values underpin Wawona’s success. This merger is an exciting next step to unlock the full potential of both companies.”

The combined firm’s management team will be comprised of leaders from both companies.

“Over the last several years, we have focused on accelerating Wawona’s growth by building on the inherent strengths of our business and management team. Our acquisition last year of Burchell Nursery Inc. was one example, and now this historic merger with Gerawan takes it to yet another level,” Smittcamp said in a statement. “We are eager to bring the benefits of this merger to our employees, suppliers and customers.”

https://thebusinessjournal.com/two-valley-farming-giants-announce-completed-merger/

DiMuto Breaks Into US Market Through Deal With Central Valley Citrus Packer Fancher Creek Packing

 

 

DiMuto Produce September 23, 2019

Singapore – DiMuto, a tech-based trade solutions platform that provides end-to-end supply chain visibility for global businesses, has expanded its footprint into the USA by closing a deal with major citrus packer Fancher Creek Packing (“Fancher Creek”). Using DiMuto’s Track & Trace blockchain solution, Fancher Creek will tag citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons and grapefruits, from the US to various parts of Asia.

Located in Visalia, within the agricultural San Joaquin Valley, Fancher Creek’s packing facility is strategically situated in the heart of California’s Central Valley, which grows over 250 different crops, with an estimated value of US$17 billion, annually. Central Valley is also responsible for a quarter of the food production in the US. Fancher Creek works with growers, packers and shippers to provide citrus produce to the rest of the US, as well as overseas markets, such as Japan and Korea. Additionally, DiMuto will aid Fancher Creek in expanding its distribution channels by penetrating Southeast Asian markets in DiMuto’s trade network, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

As part of its trade solutions, DiMuto’s Track & Trace blockchain technology is a low-cost, effective solution that seamlessly integrates with supply chain workflows and existing systems to create traceability and accountability for each fruit, from farms, factories, cold chain to distribution channels and end consumers. Every single fruit is tagged with a QR label, photographed and tracked at each stage of the supply chain to provide end-to-end, 24/7 visibility from farm to fork. Data is encrypted and loaded onto the distributed digital ledger, enabling verified documents and data to be shared on a single platform, reducing trade disputes over quality and strengthening trust amongst all parties.

Mr Gary Loh, DiMuto’s Founder and Chairman, said, “We are tremendously excited to be working with Fancher Creek to break into the US market and establish a presence in California’s Central Valley. The adoption of our technology by more players across the global produce industry underscores the scalability of our all-in-one trade management platform. It is platform-agnostic and interoperable among the different blockchain systems currently used by the big international retailers, and we envisage a faster rate of market adoption for our trade solution as retailers are increasingly requesting for suppliers to go on the blockchain to complete end-to-end traceability. As such, DiMuto ensures that we meet the needs of our global clients by adhering to internationally-accepted and business-led standards.”

DiMuto was most recently inducted into the GS1 Singapore Solution Partner Program (“SPP”) to offer blockchained trade management solutions for member companies of the not-for-profit Global Standards 1 (“GS1”) based in Belgium. As part of the SPP, DiMuto’s solutions can be easily adopted by GS1 supply chain players all over the world for their trade management needs

https://www.perishablenews.com/produce/dimuto-breaks-into-us-market-through-deal-with-central-valley-citrus-packer-fancher-creek-packing/

Kern quickly rises to become California’s top hemp-producing county

As of Friday afternoon, the county’s Agricultural Commissioner’s Office had registered 33 different entities planning to grow hemp on 76 sites comprising 6,864 acres, a county-wide total the agency said eclipses every other in the state.

With interest skyrocketing among local and out-of-town investors, there is some concern the boom in hemp cultivation could lead to a glut of material to produce the trendy cure-all cannabidiol, or CBD. But the plant itself is versatile enough that market participants are hopeful the crop is here to stay.

“I’d like to see this become a crop on your top-10 list in Kern County,” said Arvin-area hemp grower Kent Stenderup. The diversified farmer said he gets phone calls every week from people interested in contracting his company to grow the plant or show them how to do it themselves.

So many people have contacted county ag officials about their intentions of growing hemp locally that such inquiries now take about 80 percent of their time, said Cerise Montanio, deputy director of Kern’s Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

WIDE INTEREST

State records show Kern hemp registrations have been issued to companies with mailing addresses as far away as Encino. Companies with names like CA Hempire and Freedom Farms LLC have gotten approval to grow on various parcels concentrated in the Lamont and Arvin area.

Questions remain as to how well-rooted the plant is locally. Montanio said harvesting techniques remain experimental and that it’s still unclear how many of the hemp fields being grown now will meet the requirement that the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, accounts for no more than about one-third of 1 percent of the plant’s chemistry.

“It’s a tricky little game,” she said, adding that any plant testing greater than that THC threshold must be destroyed.

HANDS-OFF APPROACH

One reason Kern has attracted so much interest, she said, is the county’s accommodating regulations. Other counties have caps on how much acreage may be used to produce hemp, while others ban cultivation of the plant altogether, she said. But not Kern.

“We don’t have a moratorium. We don’t have ordinances,” she said.  “We are allowing it.”

She and Stenderup expressed worries the surge of interest in CBD oil may quickly lead to over-planting. Stenderup said he hopes the situation doesn’t soon create a market “bubble.”

Even if the CBD market doesn’t need as much hemp as is being grown, though, Montanio said the plant’s strong fiber could prove useful for things like textiles, straws and even automobile parts.

ADDED BENEFITS

On the other hand, Kern’s openness to the crop may allow it to capitalize on another aspect of the CBD trend: oil processing.

The director of the county’s Planning and Natural Resources Department, Lorelei Oviatt, noted that hemp plants may be turned into oil within the county’s borders, but that this activity can only take place legally on land zoned for agricultural use. Once that’s done, however, the oil can be processed into creams or lotions on non-ag real estate.

She was optimistic hemp’s relatively low consumption of water would help Kern farmers weather upcoming restrictions on groundwater pumping. Plus, the need to extract oil from the crop is already bringing underused ag processing plants in the Arvin area back to life.

Three Kern companies make the 2019 Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing businesses

Three Kern County-based businesses — Grapevine MSP Technology Services and Stria LLC in Bakersfield and Tasteful Selections LLC in Arvin — have been named to 2019’s Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest-growing privately held companies with revenues of more than $2 million last year.

Tasteful Selections, a grower and seller of bite-size potatoes, ranked highest among the three, coming in at number 2,440. Its growth year-over-year growth was pegged at 163 percent, according to Inc.’s website; its annual revenue was listed as $127.5 million.

Stria, a business process outsourcing company specializing in document management, ranked 4,350th with 70 percent growth and revenues of $6.1 million.

Grapevine is an information technology management firm with revenues of $4.8 million per year. Its 57-percent growth rate landed it 4,830th on the Inc. ranking.

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/three-kern-companies-make-the-inc-list-of-fast-growing/article_18d4a54c-c45d-11e9-b615-2be90d1e5eca.html

Spenker Winery ‘completes the farm’ with SJ County’s only goat creamery

 

 

By Bob Highfill

Record Staff Writer

Posted Aug 4, 2019 at 4:07 PM

LODI — Bettyann Spenker is joking but serious at the same time.

In 2010, her daughters, Kate and Sarah, were out of the house off to college.

So, “I replaced them,” Bettyann said.

Indeed she did.

Spenker replaced her kids with goat kids. Her first was a cute, tiny Nigerian Dwarf she named Shirley. Fast forward nearly a decade and the tribe on the Spenker’s farmstead in Lodi has grown to more than 70 with some 23 supplying Bettyann and her daughters with enough milk to commercially make cheese and yogurt.

Today, Spenker Family Farm on DeVries Road includes their winery, vineyard, goat farm and the only goat creamery in San Joaquin County.

The idea to open an artisan creamery came when Kate and Sarah returned home from college and expressed interest in continuing the family business. There was much to discuss: The market for Zinfandel, of which they have 60 acres, wasn’t exactly robust. Their winery, which opened in 1994 as a means to showcase their grapes, was boutique in size. There already were many wineries in Lodi. How could theirs stand out from the rest? They needed to vertically integrate, but how?

They decided to open a goat creamery.

“Adding cheese seemed like a fun and natural fit,” said Kate Spenker, who studied art history and graduated in 2010 from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. “This is Mom’s baby. We support her, but we had to make the decision as a family. It is a big commitment. You’re taking care of the animals and making the product. But it’s her passion and we’re following her in that. It’s very cool. It’s been a fun project.”

Kate and Sarah helped design the animal barn and the adjacent barn that houses the wine tasting room and creamery. Sarah, who studied theater at Concordia University in Irvine, handles sales and manages the tasting room. Visitors to the tasting room can look through large windows into the creamery. Both barns are painted red and trimmed in white. Their bet is the creamery will bring in more revenue, not only in sales of cheese and yogurt, but also agritourism. They already have hosted goat yoga classes and plan to hold wine and cheese pairings and cheese-making classes.

“Bettyann had this concept a few years ago and I went, ‘OK, sounds nice,’” said Chuck Spenker, Bettyann’s husband and a third-generation wine grape grower. “It completes the farm here.”

After 12 hours, the cheese should look like yogurt, solid if tipped but still relatively soft. You may see some whey separating from the cheese. The whey is a mostly clear yellowish liquid.

Place a piece of butter muslin (doubled) in a colander in a bowl. Gently spoon the chèvre into the butter muslin. Gather up the corners of the muslin and tie knots to secure.

Hang the butter muslin filled with the chèvre over a bowl so the whey can drain. An easy way to do this is to tie the butter muslin around a cupboard handle so the bowl to catch the whey can rest on the counter underneath.

On July 26, after years of planning and building, the Spenkers cleared the final hurdle of red tape when the state issued their milk-processing license. Since then, Bettyann and her girls have been busy making cheese that they hope to have ready to sell later this month from their tasting room. Other wineries have expressed interest, as have some retail shops.

“People are eager to buy it,” Bettyann said. “So that’s good.”

During a recent visit, Bettyann and Kate scooped pasteurized curds into colanders lined with cheese cloth. They gathered the curds in the cloth and hung the bundles on racks to allow the whey to drain. In 24 hours, the result is fresh, spreadable chèvre, which will be offered straight or flavored with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto, and herbes de Provence. Bettyann also makes a mild, pressed cheese she calls Delta Breeze from an Italian-style recipe that melts easily, has a firm texture and subtle tang — an excellent entry-point for non-goat-cheese lovers or a palate cleanser on a cheese board — and a cultured, soft, gooey, decadent cheese named Shirley’s Dream, an homage to Bettyann’s first goat, that has been dusted in ash and covered by a bloomy rind — an absolutely remarkable cheese that’s salty and earthy with mushroom and umami notes.

Bettyann said she grew up in suburbia, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and not on a farm. She home-schooled her daughters and taught other home-schooled students science and math. She’s proficient in chemistry and fermentation science. She makes all of her family’s estate-grown wines: Muscat of Alexandria (Morning Glory), rosé blend of Zinfandel and Syrah (Evening Prim Rosé), Sarah’s Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.

Bettyann basically taught herself how to make cheese and yogurt, though she had help and encouragement from friends. The goats are milked once per day and a total of 15 to 20 gallons is collected, good for about 30-40 pounds of a soft cheese, such as chèvre. Goats generally will remain in lactation 10 months a year, though it depends on the breed. In addition to Nigerian Dwarfs, the Spenkers have Nubians, La Manchas and crosses between Nubians and Nigerian Dwarfs.

“That gives you the fantastic milk quality of the Nigerian Dwarfs and a little more volume with the bigger goats,” Bettyann said about the crossbreeds. “Then, I have the La Manchas and they look like they don’t have ears. They have tiny little ears and those are really nice, fairly calm and compliant dairy goats.”

Each goat has a name and Bettyann and the girls can tell them apart on sight. Willow, for instance, is a full Nubian. There’s also Thisbe; a yearling named Calliope; and a two-year-old Nigerian Dwarf, Mariah, to name a few. The goats like to be in the shade, eat hay and chomp on their favorite treat, animal crackers.

Spenker Family Farm at 17291 DeVries Road in Lodi is open from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Information: (209) 367-0467, spenkerwinery.com.

Cutting Edge Company Creates Opportunity Zone Fund

PRESS RELEASE

 

July 19, 2019

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact:

Bobby Kahn

Executive Director

Madera County EDC

559-675-7768

bkahn@madercountyedc.com

 

Bill Pitman

CEO/Managing Member – Benton Enterprises

(559) 664-0800

bill@elkridgealmonds.com

 

Cutting Edge Company Creates Opportunity Zone Fund

A Madera County business specializing in state-of-the-art food safety technology has launched the region’s first qualified Opportunity Zone business and on June 19, 2019, The Berenda Opportunity Fund, LLC was formed. Also organized at that time, a second new entity named H-ATS to acquire certain assets of Benton Enterprises, LLC including, intellectual property under the name Adaptable Technology Systems (ATS), Heart Ridge Farms (HRF) and Elk Ridge Almonds (ERA).

ATS developed a proprietary process to reduce pathogens through a science and energy based technology to maximize food safety, preserve the integrity and taste of the food products. These techniques will significantly improve safe food handling for a wide variety of foods. Both Heart Ridge Farms and Elk Ridge Almonds currently utilize this technology for the retail brand (HRF) and bulk processing of almonds and pistachios (ERA).

Opportunity Zones are census tracts that were nominated by governors of each state and certified by the United States Treasury into which investors can invest in new projects to spur economic development in exchange for certain federal capital gains tax advantages. The opportunity zone tax incentive was adopted on December 22, 2017 as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that provides tax incentives for investments in underserved communities.

Opportunity Zone Funds are investment vehicles that require at least 90% of their capital in “Qualified Property,” which includes stock, partnerships, interests and business property. The fund model enables a broad array of investors to pool their resources in Qualified Zone Property, increasing the scale of capital going to investments in which the Opportunity Zone Fund will invest. An Opportunity Zone Fund provides material tax benefits for investors with capital gains from other investments.

William B. Pitman, with over 40 years of farming and food processing experience, founded Benton Enterprises in 2013. Recognizing the need for improved food safety while preserving and enhancing its product integrity, led to the development of a low temperature process for several types of locally grown nuts marketed for retail sales under brands Heart Ridge Farms (retail) and under Elk Ridge Almonds (bulk). “The H-ATS combination of the Benton businesses and the ATS technologies creates a food safety solution worldwide” said Pitman. “The need for better food safety while preserving the quality is critical and we feel we can help meet those needs with our proprietary technologies,” he added.

Pitman met with the Madera County Economic Development Commission to obtain information about Opportunity Zones and had this to say, “Bobby Kahn was very helpful in getting me started in the right direction”. “Bobby explained the basics of how an Opportunity Zone Fund works and provided me with names of people that could provide the expertise in the formation of an Opportunity Zone Fund” Pitman added.  It is interesting to note that Pitman represents a 7th generation Madera county family that has deep roots in agriculture.  The project consultants are the accounting firm of Moss Adams LLP (Fresno) and the legal firm, Cutting Edge Counsel (Oakland).

 

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About Opportunity Zones: Opportunity Zones are a new tool for community development. Established in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones provide tax incentives for investment in designated census tracts. https://opzones.ca.gov/

 

About The Berenda Opportunity Zone Fund: Located inside a qualified Opportunity Zone. Under this new tax codes, this is a qualified fund for the new investors to enter through.

 

About H-ATS:  An opportunity zone business that includes Heart Ridge Farms (HRF), Elk Ridge Almonds (ERA) and Adaptable Technology Systems (ATS).

 

About Benton Enterprises: Benton Enterprises will manage both H-ATS and The Berenda Opportunity Fund.

 

About Madera County EDC: Madera County Economic Development Commission (MCEDC) is a joint Powers Authority comprised of the County of Madera, the City of Madera, and the City of Chowchilla. MCEDC’s mission is to support dynamic and diverse industry sectors that provide family sustaining wages and a high quality of life. MCEDC assists business with development projects, site selection, demographics, and business incentives. www.maderacountyedc.com