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Valley iris farm moving out of state

A Porterville iris farmer is blaming the high cost of doing business in California for forcing him to leave.
(Joe Ybarra Reporting)

A Porterville iris farmer is blaming the high cost of doing business in California for forcing him to leave.

A South Valley iris farm is closing and moving out of state.

The owner is blaming the high cost of doing business in California for forcing him to leave.

The Iris Garden has been located in Porterville for 2 1/2 decades. 

The owner, Mike Sutton, says it's tough to leave but necessary to save the business.

Sutton's Iris Gardens sits on 40 acres, which is a lot smaller than it used to be, and a lot more expensive to run. "California is getting harder and harder to run a business, taxes, regulations, water, all sorts of different issues," said Sutton.

Sutton says he has not lost money yet and that the business is strong. He ships flowers all over the world and sells to big box retailers, but profits are shrinking and he says it's time to move to Idaho. "It's about 17% less to run a business there than it is here," said Sutton.

It's a tough decision for Sutton and a huge loss for the Valley because it's the only garden of it's
kind in the area.

Sutton says the move will also be good for the flowers because he says the air is cleaner and the climate is better in Idaho. He hopes to expand to 140 acres in a couple of years, but he is leaving with mixed emotions. "Blood, sweat, tears into the business and then you move it, I keep telling myself it's not anything different, it's just a different location," said Sutton.

Sutton's Iris Gardens will be gone by the end of summer but there's still time to visit and Sutton says he won't turn any visitors away.
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