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» April 11, 2005 «
Permanent repeal of federal estate taxes goes before the House of Representatives this week. Farm groups, which favor the repeal, say they will work for an impressive "aye" vote, in order to encourage the Senate to act on the measure. The American Farm Bureau says the "death tax" can stymie efforts to pass family farms from one generation to the next. Previous tax reform bills phased out the tax, but it is due to return in 2011 unless Congress acts.
Grower groups say they're encouraged by a report that shows continued declines in winegrape acreage. Allied Grape Growers and the California Association of Winegrape Growers say the report reflects ongoing efforts to bring supply and demand into better balance. Farmers have been working to recover from years of low crop prices. The groups say the cost for establishing new vineyards have risen, which has further slowed new plantings.
Strawberry plants have recovered from the rains that beset them earlier in the season, and crop forecasters predict that California's overall crop will increase 2 percent this year. A government report (issued Friday) says strawberry production started slowly, due to heavy rains in Southern California. But, the report says, the earlier weather problems actually served to strengthen strawberry plants. Harvest is moving north to Oxnard and Santa Maria.
Beneficial insects will play a larger role in controlling pests that damage greenhouse plants, according to experts who spoke at a California seminar. Greenhouse owners who grow ornamental plants need to minimize pest damage, because buyers expect the plants to look perfect. Advisors told growers to learn as much as they can about the life cycles of both pests and beneficial insects, so they can release the "good bugs" in their greenhouses at the most opportune time.Top