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April 28, 2014

Host: Richard Ruelas

California Drought Impact on Arizona Agriculture

  |   Video
  • The drought in California is hurting the agriculture industry there, but it could be a benefit to agriculture in Arizona. Farmer Jim Boyle will talk about the issue.
  • Jim Boyle - Farmer
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: environment, california, drought, impact, arizona, agriculture, farm, industry,

View Transcript
Richard Ruelas: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Richard Ruelas in for Ted Simons. The drought is California is hurting the agriculture industry there, but could it be a benefit to farmers in Arizona? Maricopa County Farm bureau president and dairy farmer Jim Boyle joins me now to talk about the issue. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Boyle: Good afternoon.

Richard Ruelas: How bad is it in California?

Jim Boyle: It's quite bad. It's essentially a 100-year drought in California. It's as dry as anything they have seen in essentially a century. It's part of a bigger drought. The entire Southwest has been in for a while. Just seems to have hit California particularly hard this year.

Richard Ruelas: We are seeing the pictures of sort of those like farmers are just abandoning --

Jim Boyle: They are in some ways. Some of that's planned in the sense that in that water will move to different users depending on if you have one farmer retires some land or let it lay fallow for the summer and shift that water another crop. You will see a reduction of acreage and farming in California because of this drought. Recently they have gotten some rain but unfortunately it didn't impact the overall picture so much because what they really rely on is the snowpack in the Sierra Nevadas which was almost nonexistent this year.

Richard Ruelas: So let's look at Arizona. Are we going to benefit? Are we going to be hurt? Is it a mix of both?

Jim Boyle: It's a mix of both. And that's because the agricultural farming systems in California and Arizona are both very large and very diverse. You will find some farmers with wine, grapes, or nuts or fruits and vegetables so farmers are retiring their alfalfa acreage and shifting that water to another type of crop. And then they're going, the users of the alfalfa, the cattle ranchers and the dairy farmers, are going to places like Arizona, Nevada, Idaho to bring alfalfa in.

Richard Ruelas: If you have alfalfa planted in Arizona your price just went up.

Jim Boyle: We have seen prices rise throughout the winter. Probably starting about December, and weekly prices have been increasing. Most of that hay going to California and dairy farmers and cattle ranchers in Arizona are having to compete with those prices.

Richard Ruelas: Like what prices we talking about? What was is in December and what is it now?

Jim Boyle: Good quality first cutting alfalfa we were talking about perhaps it would go ballgame as low as $200 a ton delivered into the Mesa area where I primarily dairy farm. Right now that's gone up to $285, there's some talk of it going higher. And --

Richard Ruelas: And I imagine there's a trucking company that benefits by taking it.

Jim Boyle: The truckers definitely do. And the dairy farmers in California, they are buying this hay, are having to add, pay $70 and $80 on hauling on top of that. While we are feeling it's bad for costing us $285 in Arizona, it's costing the central valley in California $350 and they are prepared to pay $400. They think that's where it will go. That hay will go up -- come up in different parts of the west.

Richard Ruelas: If you are an alfalfa farmer in Arizona, this is a great win for you.

Jim Boyle: Yeah.

Richard Ruelas: If our dairy farmer in Arizona you are suffering because now you are competing.

Jim Boyle: Exactly.

Richard Ruelas: With the California ranchers.

Jim Boyle: That's a big issue. And there's -- some of other farms that seem to be, that will probably benefit in certain things, the fruit and vegetables. Arizona fruit and vegetable market has been strong. I was talking to a cantaloupe farmer on Friday in Maricopa. And they felt that they should get a very good price for their crops.

Richard Ruelas: Because the supply, no one, few people probably have you this drought coming to this magnitude.

Jim Boyle: Right.

Richard Ruelas: It wasn't like Arizona overplanted expecting this.

Jim Boyle: That's one of the major issues is why agriculture as a whole in Arizona probably won't be able to take advantage of it. For example, a lot of California's crops just can't be grown in Arizona. Or if they can, they take years to prepare and be ready to send to market. For example, nut trees. Pistachios, pecans, almonds, a huge market in California. And we have some of that in Arizona. But it takes, once you plant a tree over three years until you get a crop off of it. It doesn't benefit to try to plant a nut tree in hopes of getting some profits off of the California drought.

Richard Ruelas: But the fruits and vegetables, they will be in the same situation as the alfalfa farmer where they have a supply that suddenly has --

Jim Boyle: Yes. And even though that the fruit and vegetable guys in California can often pay more than, say, alfalfa farmers or wheat farmers in California for water, the drought still stresses the plants out, makes them more susceptible to pests. There's also been, it's been surprisingly warm there, which is also caused a greater amount of pest damage on some of these crops. And so transfer there's definitely a lower supply even if they get water. So there's an opportunity there for some --

Richard Ruelas: The cantaloupe farmer in Maricopa you spoke to, he is going to see a little more money because the prices go up.

Jim Boyle: Yes, we think so.

Richard Ruelas: The cantaloupe eater in Phoenix, say, will also see their prices go up. How much stress are we going to see on the market?

Jim Boyle: I think a lot of it's already built in. We are in a period of rising commodity prices in general. And that comes back to some of the basics of the world economy, is that there's billions of people in the world that are not making any more farmland. We have seen over the last few years rises in almost all agricultural commodities and that's mainly driven by demand. So some of that price is already increasing. So it's built into the system a little bit.

Richard Ruelas: Meaning that this incident, although it's a major incident to California, a major incident with Arizona farmers seeing some increase for the consumer, we are not going to see a huge spike in citrus or vegetables?

Jim Boyle: If you do see individual things, it's often related. There might be individual commodities that may have a slight impact. But in general, I think there's just, we are in a period of rising commodity prices. And so I think everyone kind of feels that when they go to the grocery store. Some of that might be affected by the California drought but it's also affected by demand in China, droughts in Mexico, all of these other things.

Richard Ruelas: One more stressor on an already bad vagues. And again, you think of that alfalfa farmer or buyer in California, the rancher, that has to be built into the price of the hamburger or steak down the road, too. Are we going to see beef prices increase?

Jim Boyle: Beef prices are at a very high level now. That goes back to a series of events. Mainly droughts that started occurring eight or nine years ago. We saw a large drought in Texas followed by a drought a couple years ago in the Midwest, all large cattle growing areas such as this year. Ranchers have had to cut back the size of their herds because they didn't have the grass to feed the cattle. That created a smaller pool of cattle to choose from, which then coupled with relatively high demand as the economy has kind of improved and everybody wants a steak on their plate, you suddenly have a situation where that beef cattle inventory, which right now in the country is the smallest since late 1940s has suddenly caused meat prices to go high. While California is a small portion of that it's certainly not helping the beef price.

Richard Ruelas: Are we going to see this extend through next year? Are farmers in Arizona thinking that this is going to continue and maybe changing what they plant or the production level?

Jim Boyle: Well, we hope not. Despite the fact that at some segments of agriculture will benefit from this, this drought isn't a California issue solely. It's also an issue for Arizona and the entire Southwest. Our drought this year wasn't as severe as California's was but we are nearing a point where the Colorado river is potentially going to be a declared an official drought. There will be an official drought on the Colorado river which will impact agriculture first in the state of Arizona. Agriculture is the first industry that takes water out of the Colorado. We have the lowest right, so essentially that we will be cut off first before it impacts any municipality, any tribal group, any other user of Colorado water. So we fear another dry year for us or California could result in the lower Colorado river flow and us having less water to use ourselves.

Richard Ruelas: We will hope and pray for rain because now you are scaring everybody.

Jim Boyle: Well, we need rain, yeah.

Richard Ruelas: Absolutely. Jim, thanks for joining us. Good luck in the marketplace.

Jim Boyle: Thanks.

Experience Corps

  |   Video
  • A volunteer program that pairs children with seniors is paying off in the classroom. Find out more about the Experience Corps program, where seniors help children with their reading.
Category: Education   |   Keywords: amgradaz, american graduate, education, experience, corps, children, seniors, help, reading,

View Transcript
Richard Ruelas: A volunteer program that pairs children with seniors is paying off in the classroom. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana take us to Frank elementary in Guadalupe.

Child: Sharks have lived in the world.

Child: These are some things we do.

Martha Jocobo-Smith: We have about 608 students here at Frank. In pre-K through fifth grade.

Christina Estes: About 40 of them meet with their reading buddies a week. They are more formally known as AARP's experience corps. Volunteers who are trained to help students read better.

Nat Tinkler: I have been involved for about five years. This is my fifth year.

Christina Estes: Nat Tinkler is the ring leader. He recruited four other retirees in his neighborhood.

Nat Tinkler: They are young. They are so impressionable and they are a lot of fun. So I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.

Christina Estes: But this is more than a feel-good program. According to principal Martha Jacobo-Smith.

Martha Jocobo-Smith: They read nonfiction text. They work on phonics, vocabulary, fluency, they ask all those important questions related to the text that children need to know in order to comprehend and to grow academically.

Christina Estes: She says test shows students are improving their read building skills.

Nat Tinkler: Very good job.

Christina Estes: And there's another bonus. They are gaining confidence.

Martha Jocobo-Smith: We can see it in them. We can see the conversations they have with the tutors. We can see the children wanting to read more text. I have stopped in a few times when they are reading with the children. And children will be eager to share what they have read.

Child: Many people are afraid of sharks but --

Howard Shapiro: I think it's important that especially us seniors who have the time to be able to offer our assistance, whether it be in schools, in a school setting or in a business setting, it's important that we give back a little bit.

Christina Estes: While giving back is a priority for Howard Shapiro, he admits it's not all fun and games. And like most teachers he looks forward to summer break.

Howard Shapiro: There's a lot of repetition. A couple more pages. Come on. Everybody is different. We are going to read together, you and me together at the same time. Those are baby turtles on that beige. We will get there in a second. The pencil disappeared again? Patience is key.

Christina Estes: The payoff comes from knowing they are making a difference.

Howard Shapiro: Gives you a sense the kids are going to be successful. They will be able to accomplish something.

Christina Estes: And sometimes it comes from learning new words.

Howard Shapiro: One of my little girls says, "easy peasy, lemon squeezy." Is it the shark book?

Child: Yeah.

Christina Estes: When the school year ends these volunteers and students will share a life-long lesson that friendship, like reading, is fundamental.

Howard Shapiro: Was that fun? You did very well. I was very proud of your reading today. It was very good.

Richard Ruelas: Right now Tempe is the only Arizona city using experience corps volunteers, but Phoenix plans to launch the program this fall with about tutors in four elementary districts. That's all tonight for "Arizona Horizon." See you tomorrow.

Future of Cars

  |   Video
  • Cars will be changing a lot over the next few years. Collision avoidance systems, cameras and vehicle-to-vehicle communication are expected to become commonplace, but also bring up privacy issues. Other everyday car features such as keys and spare tires will be going away. Jim Prueter, the car buying expert for AAA Arizona, will discuss the future of cars.
  • Jim Prueter - Car Buying Expert, AAA Arizona
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, future, cars, aaa, change, vehicle,

View Transcript
Richard Ruelas: Cars will be changing a lot over the next few years. Collision avoidance systems, cameras and vehicle-to-vehicle communication are expected to become commonplace and may create privacy issues. Other everyday car features such as keys and spare tires will be going away. Jim Prueter, the car buying expert for AAA Arizona, is here to discuss the future of cars. Thanks for joining us.

Jim Prueter: Good to be here.

Richard Ruelas: Let's get to what is new. Cameras, what kind of cameras might we see?

Jim Prueter: It's really interesting what's happening with cameras now. One of the back-up camera the federal government has mandated that every vehicle has to have those by 2018.

Richard Ruelas: Those are already in place on minivans. Are they popular?

Jim Prueter: Very popular. It's one of those things if you drive a vehicle and it has one of those, you really can't drive the vehicle that doesn't have it because it's so good. The technology is fairly simple but it's really very, very good. And now they have done 360-degree cameras. And so not only is the back-up camera but you can sit in many cars and look at a top-down view like your hovering over the roof of the vehicle and you can see completely around the vehicle. If there's something in front of you, behind you, on the side of you, a bike, maybe a child playing, but for now, the back-up cameras are big. Along with that are blind-spot warning systems that are in the mirrors that alert you, that there's a vehicle that you can't see but the camera, the warning system can see. Many of them will flash a light in the mirror or inside the vehicle and even an audible sound and keep you from or alert you not to move over because there's a vehicle that you can't see.

Richard Ruelas: What of that is the back-up cameras the only one that's mandated? The rest is for --

Jim Prueter: It's the only one mandated now. But we would expect even before then, most vehicles will have the back-up camera. At least.

Richard Ruelas: So the 360 camera, again, is this, as I am going down the freeway, is that going to be able to pop on or only when I am parked or ready to move out of a parking spot?

Jim Prueter: It depends. Because being distracted is also very important that they don't want you being distracted as you drive.

Richard Ruelas: It would be a lot of fun to watch the overhead camera as I am going down the road.

Jim Prueter: Honda has an interesting feature that's new, where if you put on the turn signal, the right turn signal, actually there's a camera in the right-rearview mirror, by the front door, and on your screen that you have on the dash will show all the way down the side of the vehicle and the whole lane. So it's not now just a flashing light, it's a camera that is that comes on and as soon as your turn your directional off it goes back to what was on the screen before.

Richard Ruelas: I guess that's the line they are trying to cross is making it so we are not distracted by all these gee-whiz features but safer.

Jim Prueter: In fact, it's interesting, Richard, Volvo has come out and said, they have committed that they will build a vehicle, they are very close to where no one will ever lose their life in an accident driving a vehicle.

Richard Ruelas: Wow.

Jim Prueter: And they are pretty close.

Richard Ruelas: There is a camera that goes inside, too? I think I saw one that showed the face or tracked the eye movements.

Jim Prueter: Yeah, there's a sensor -- and this is available, Mercedes has it now. Other manufacturers have this now. And so it will detect if you are nodding off, not paying attention, and actually --

Richard Ruelas: We could use that for television for viewers at home, too.

Jim Prueter: Trained on the eye. So what it will do is present an audible sound to alert the driver, to wake the driver and it will begin to apply the brakes and begin to slow the vehicle and correct it to keep it in the lane.

Richard Ruelas: Kind of like an advanced rumble strip?

Jim Prueter: Really advanced. And that technology is here today. And call the lane departure warning system. I have driven vehicle that is have that.

Richard Ruelas: It senses the lane markings and if you deviate it alarms you and try to correct you or just alarm you?

Jim Prueter: Both. I was just driven the new 2015 Hyundai genesis that's coming out and I wouldn't recommend this but when we were testing the new car, what it will actually do, if you let go of the steering wheel and you depart and you get close to the sideline or the center line, it will steer the vehicle back for you. You don't even have to touch the steering wheel. That's available today. It will give you 10 seconds. It will vibrate the seat. It will vibrate the steering wheel and it will correct so that the vehicle does not drift over that center line or off the shoulder. And it will give you about 10 seconds of doing that, and just enough to alert you. So it's not an autonomous vehicle that will drive itself completely.

Richard Ruelas: That's coming.

Jim Prueter: It's here now.

Richard Ruelas: Well, the vehicle communication systems, so vehicles speaking to each other?

Jim Prueter: Not only vehicles speaking to each other, but vehicles speaking to a cloud in the sky where there's information that is put in there. And the technology is there and available in some cars where, if it knows ahead of time, vehicle to vehicle, that another vehicle has, is coming to the speed approaching an intersection that you are approaching and that vehicle is going to run the red light, that vehicle will communicate with your vehicle and your vehicle will begin to brake to avoid that collision.

Richard Ruelas: So again, really an eye in the sky. If it senses that a car is going to run a red light, it will slow down the vehicles approaching that intersection?

Jim Prueter: That's exactly right. That's exactly right and that technology is already here.

Richard Ruelas: And I guess we would have to opt into that cloud?

Jim Prueter: Well, some, yes, because you mentioned the privacy. For instance, just alerting the vehicle that another vehicle that there's an ice spot, icy spot in the road, maybe you are on the road up to Flagstaff, and there's an icy spot that alerts you. Here's another example. This is it. We just looked at the other one so it will alert you so you are not going to go through that at 65,70 miles an hour. You already know where that is. Your vehicle tells you and it has the alert.

Richard Ruelas: A traffic map advisory.

Jim Prueter: Nobody talks to each other. It's just the vehicles alerting and you get a message coming up in your car. The other one that we just looked at was the pacing that to keep traffic moving so there's less pollution, easier traffic, is to time the vehicle, time itself, talking to each other about what speed the drive, to make all the green lights.

Richard Ruelas: You have control to go faster or avoid the optimal speed but it's telling you if you want to time all the lights and move traffic along.

Jim Prueter: Right. We have all had people that just go by us like crazy --

Richard Ruelas: I had somewhere to be!

Jim Prueter: And only to be right at the same light. You know what I'm talking about.

Richard Ruelas: And there seems to be a simpler one that just lets you know when the car in front of you is slowing down.

Jim Prueter: That's collision avoidance. And again I have driven vehicles that have that. It's available in many cars today. Actually, you can, for instance, drive from Phoenix to Tucson and never theoretically never need to touch the accelerator or brake pedal. The vehicle will measure the distance to the vehicle in front of you and either brake or accelerate according --

Richard Ruelas: You set it on cruise control and say I want to go 65,75 of course, if it's allowed and it lets you know when to slow down.

Jim Prueter: You don't -- it will do it by itself. There's no intervention on the driver at all unless you decide you want to do that. But it will do everything including bringing that vehicle to a complete halt. And if it's a panic stop, and you can't stop in time, there's precollision things that will happen such as your seat belt will automatically tighten, and the vehicle will slow, will attempt to swerve and avoid that if the lane next to you is clear. If it sees that you are going to hit that vehicle in front of you, it will, and the lane is clear to the left it will pull you around that vehicle.

Richard Ruelas: It does all it can to keep you safe. Amazing stuff. Thanks for joining us with that list of safety features coming up. Let's hope they keep us safe.

Jim Prueter: We certainly hope they will and all that information is available through AAA and and we have it on there and the AAA car buying folks have that information. You are more than welcome.