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» March 24, 2010 «
After seeing demand and prices tumble during the worldwide recession, dairy farmers say they expect demand for milk and dairy products to increase as the economy turns around. Farmers sold milk at a loss most of last year and called it one of the toughest years on record. But farmers say they're optimistic they will earn higher prices for milk in the second half of the year. Prices have generally been stronger so far this year, but in April milk prices will again drop below production costs.
The green pastures on California hillsides provide hope for cattle ranchers, who say they expect better conditions both for their animals and their markets. Winter rains have restored rangelands, providing more grass for cattle to graze. At the same time, beef markets appear to be recovering after being hurt by the economic recession. The U.S. Agriculture Department forecasts a 9 percent jump in beef exports, which fuels more optimism among ranchers.
Authorities say they will continue work to control the light brown apple moth in California, but that eradication of the invasive pest now seems unlikely. The moth attacks a wide variety of native plants and crops, and has been found in at least 17 California counties. The state Department of Food and Agriculture said it will use sterile moths and twist ties containing moth pheromones to disrupt the pest's mating.
Apricot farmers say their tree bloom is well underway. The bloom started a few days behind average, but growers say thus far the weather has been ideal. Apricots are vulnerable to rain, both at bloom time now and at harvest time later this spring and summer. Farms in the Central Valley produce more than 90 percent of the apricots grown in the United States.Top