The unemployment rate in the Tulare County was 12.4 percent in March 2016, up from a revised 12.1 percent in February 2016, and below the year-ago estimate of 13.5 percent. There are 3600 more nonfarm jobs year-over-year and 300 more farm jobs. EDD says the number of unemployed in the county went from 27,300 in March 2015 to 25,100 in March 2016.
This week the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced that the California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) committee approved $70 million in tax credits for 103 companies who are planning to expand. Included on the list is Nordstrom – awarded an $11 million tax credit to create 367 jobs at a new online order fulfillment center in Fresno or Visalia, California. Mayors from both Visalia and Fresno were on hand in Sacramento. The two agreed “the region would be the winner” if Nordstrom selects either one instead of locating in another state. A decision is expected sometime in May. Locals hope the new higher minimum wage in California does not impact the choice.
Pictured: Mayor of Fresno Ashley Swearengin greets Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen
Pet Food Company On The Grow
Visalia’s Perfection Pet Foods is on the grow again. In their fourth expansion in a couple of years the company, owned by Western Milling, announced this week a new 149,000sf warehouse on their 18.5 acre manufacturing campus on Miller Park Ct.
Mortgage interest rates continued to fall, reaching their lowest rate in nearly three years according to Freddie Mac. The average 30-year mortgage rate fell to 3.58 percent in the latest week, down from 3.59 percent the prior week.
The annual report from the California Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisals released last Friday in Visalia says in a word – watch out below. While ag commodity prices including nuts prices were higher in most of 2015 the year 2016 appears to be a different story. “Nut prices began to slip in the latter half of 2015, led by the walnut market and followed in November by a stomach-clenching free fall in the almond market”comments the report. What is the upshot “One of the key factors driving the increase in land values—record farm profitability—has fundamentally changed in 2016.” Among the predictions: Milk prices continued to drop, along with feed and fuel costs. Whereas in the past, many older dairy facilities might have been converted to nut-crop ground, that’s less of a possibility today. Larger dairies will now likely show more interest in purchasing those properties. ”Nut growers might not be able to pay as much,”said presenter Janie Gatzman of American Ag Credit ,adding that the larger dairies are likely to make those purchases in order to grow their enterprise by increasing the permitted herd size.The ag industry was shocked to hear in late February that Wonderful Orchards — previously known as Paramount Farms — was removing 10,000 acres of almond trees in California. Rabobank’s Vern Crowder says almond prices that fetched $4 per pound last year have declined to around $2.50/lb.At the lower price some farmers who have a high cost of water will not be able to compete.
Tight margins in the dairy business combined with aging operators may mean more local dairy farms shut down.Case in point is the upcoming auction at Martin Dairy in Tipton scheduled for April 19. A complete dispersal of the 700 cow dairy is on tap says dairy leader Tom Barcellos who is a cousin of the dairy family whose founder passed away some years ago leaving the aging relatives to run the place. The dairy has been supplying Dairyman’s Cooperative Creamery for 70 years.But now “there is not much hope milk prices will recover this year” says Barcellos who says the family decide to throw in the towel.