Food & Farm News
March 25, 2015
Strawberry harvest hits stride early
Mild winter and early-spring weather has accelerated the California strawberry harvest. A market report from the California Strawberry Commission shows that farmers have shipped almost 18 million crates so far this year, up about 8 percent from the same time a year ago and up 50 percent from 2013. Strawberry supplies went up sharply in the most recent reporting week, as Central Coast farmers got an early start on their harvest.
Lamb producers welcome holiday demand
The weeks before Easter mark a peak demand period for lamb, helping California sheep ranchers who have been struggling with drought and competition from imports. Dry weather has hurt pastures around the state and restricted the number of places where ranchers can graze their sheep. And sheep ranchers say the strong value of the U.S. dollar has made imported lamb less expensive, allowing the imports to grab a larger share of the market.
Springtime means flower time
The start of spring means a busy time for growers who produce flowers and ornamental plants. Growers say spring flower shows and home-and-garden shows typically lead to an uptick in flower sales. Demand has been strong for the 2015 spring season and the mild winter yielded ideal flower-growing weather. California produces nearly 80 percent of the ornamental flowers and plants grown in the United States.
Survey gauges young farmers’ attitudes
What’s the top challenge facing the nation’s young farmers and ranchers? According to an annual survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, it’s finding and securing land to grow crops and raise animals. Despite that and other challenges, the national survey found young farmers remain optimistic: More than 90 percent said they’re better off than they were five years ago. Three-quarters said they consider communicating with their customers to be a formal part of their jobs.