Food & Farm News
July 18, 2012
Farms feel effects of nation's drought
Widespread drought across the United States affects California farmers and ranchers both directly and indirectly. With three-quarters of the state's rangelands classified as “poor” or “very poor,” many California ranchers have had to bring in hay to feed their cattle. In addition, California dairy and poultry farmers continue to face challenges from high feed prices, and drought in the Corn Belt reduces hope for any relief.
Farmers help tricolored blackbird
By delaying their harvests of wheat and other crops, Central Valley farmers helped 60,000 protected blackbirds this spring. Tricolored blackbirds build their nests in farm fields that represent about 40 percent of the birds' nesting area. A U.S. Agriculture Department agency partners with farmers who delay their harvests until the fledgling birds leave their nests. The agency said the protected birds represent one-fifth of the species' global population.
For long-term success, cherry growers think short
Facing challenges in hiring enough people for harvest, cherry farmers and University of California researchers are studying different ways to grow cherries that make it easier to harvest and prune the trees. Potential solutions include reducing the size of cherry trees, so they can be harvested and pruned without the use of a ladder. At the same time, researchers want these more convenient trees to produce the same quantity and quality of fruit.
USDA revises guide for consumers
As part of its work on behalf of local and regional food systems, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated its Web-based resource known as the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. USDA says it designed the website to help people locate nearby food programs and farms on a color-coded map. The online resource also provides a guide to USDA programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers learn about farming techniques.