Food & Farm News
March 5, 2014
Rural communities brace for drought losses
Rural communities face severe impacts from drought and water shortages, according to speakers who addressed the California State Board of Food and Agriculture in Merced Tuesday. Farmers, farmworker organizations and water agency managers said agricultural water cutbacks will hurt food production, jobs and rural economies. Water agency leaders stressed the need for long-term investment to update the state’s water system, in order to safeguard against future shortages.
Farmers embrace high-tech tools
Irrigation technology has become increasingly important for California farmers and ranchers. Irrigation specialists at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, said farmers use integrated computer systems and advanced field technologies to help them make sophisticated judgments about water needs, soil moisture and other factors. Researchers estimate California farmers invested more than $3 billion in irrigation technology between 2003 and 2013.
Wine exports set record
U.S. wine exports reached record highs in revenue and volume in 2013, according to the Wine Institute. The institute attributes the increase to foreign consumers recognizing the quality, diversity and value California wines have to offer. California wines make up 90 percent of all U.S. exports. One fifth of the wine produced in California is exported, with the European Union representing the largest market.
Growers work to protect citrus crops
A serious pest that threatens backyard and commercial citrus trees will be the focus of a conference this week. Citrus growers and government agencies have been fighting the Asian citrus psyllid, an insect that can carry a disease that kills citrus trees. The disease has hit other states hard but so far has spared California. At the 2014 Citrus Showcase in Visalia Thursday, scientists and farmers will assess the progress of their work to protect citrus crops.