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» February 23, 2009 «
For the first time in its existence, the federal Central Valley Project may provide no water for farms and ranches. The Friday announcement said there would be no irrigation water if it remains dry, but even with large precipitation amounts in March and April, farmers would get only 10 percent of their allocations. Also, state water project recipients will receive 15 percent of allocations. Economists project this will result in the loss of 80,000 jobs and a loss of $2.2 billion to local economies. Some farmers and ranchers may also lose their property because of the inability to produce income.
California milk production again declined more than one percent in January, according to a government report. Farmers continued to react to low milk prices by eliminating 7,000 milk cows. The average amount of milk per cow also declined as farmers cut feed costs using lower quality hay. California dairies ran counter to the national average as production in the major 23 dairy states increased one percent. Wisconsin dairy farms increased production by one percent, but California continues as the leading milk producer.
A desert shrub called guayule, which can be grown in California, is being used to produce high-quality natural rubber products such as gloves and medical devices. But, researchers say bioenergy can also be produced from the leftovers of rubber production. The residue can provide the same amount of energy per pound as charcoal and it isn't a food crop, so using it for energy production won't compete with those uses. The plant thrives in hot, dry ecosystems.
Raisin exports increased 40 percent last year, according to the Raisin Administrative Committee. California raisins are exported to 56 countries and are among the top 20 California agricultural exports. The European Union, Japan and Canada are the top three export destinations. Raisin handlers are continuing to export products this year to meet demand from overseas buyers.Top