Go With the Grain

Elk Grove Milling pursues international markets, but the success rates are stacked against them

After a slow start piecing his way through El Salvador’s business regulations in 2008, Robert Lent began distributing Stable Mix throughout that country in 2012. Now the milling company — which employs 50 workers, makes $12 million in gross sales a year and, as Lent likes to say, feeds 17,000 horses a day — is poised to expand its distribution network in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.

Aug 4, 2015 Anita Creamer
(Shutterstock)

Burn Notice

Biomass is coming under fire for polluting the air and threatening wild forests. But is the controversy warranted?

Much of the 8 million tons of woody debris that facilities burn each year is material that would probably burn in open fields if there wasn’t an energy-producing alternative. Since the smokestacks on a biomass plant include filtering apparatuses that can remove some pollutants from the emissions, the industry — which has helped to phase out open burning of agricultural waste — has been credited as an overall boon to California’s air quality.

Jul 23, 2015 Alastair Bland
(Shutterstock)

Big Bad Biomass

Just because it’s renewable doesn’t make it clean

As California looks for ways to reduce its carbon footprint and help curb climate change, environmental activists are questioning the integrity of the biomass industry, which burns millions of tons of woody plant matter each year to help power the state’s electric grid.   

Jul 16, 2015 Alastair Bland

Photos: Cullinan Ranch Restoration

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchased the land in 1991 and incorporated it into the San Pablo Bay Wildlife Refuge. The levy was breached in January of this year. 

Jun 15, 2015

The New Hip Chick

With the spotlight on commercial egg farming, will the pasture-raised bird steal the show?

The implementation of California’s Proposition 2, which expanded space requirements for hens that produce eggs sold in California, has had ripple effects impacting producers, distributors and consumers throughout the nation. But as animal rights activists and demanding consumers realize the law hasn’t reflected their ideals, and as the price gap between commercial and specialty eggs narrows, will the elite pasture-raised egg enjoy a rise in popularity?

May 12, 2015 Allison Joy
Design by Lily Therens; elements from Shutterstock

Groves & Fishes

There is water war brewing between farmers and fisherman

Facing epic drought conditions, Gov. Jerry Brown called this month for mandatory cutbacks on urban water use statewide. But the ag industry, which uses 80 percent of the state’s water, is exempted. This decision has struck a cord with environmentalists and fishermen who fear the drought will compromise aquatic species — and their livelihoods.

Apr 20, 2015 Alastair Bland