Food & Farm News
» August 1, 2005 «
West Nile virus continues to spread through California horses, as 21 new cases were reported last week. The California Department of Food and Agriculture says that brings the total number of cases to 48 and 24 of the animals have died. Cases have been reported in 16 counties with Riverside County having the most at 13. State officials continue to urge horse owners to vaccinate their animals.
With Senate passage of the energy bill last Friday, it now goes to President Bush who has indicated he will sign it. Farmers will benefit from the bill in that it provides incentives for development of additional ethanol plants. Those incentives are expected to provide development of facilities that use rice straw and orchard prunings to manufacture ethanol. The measure also provides for development of bio-diesel fuel.
San Joaquin Valley farmers say prices to growers for many specialty crops have improved this year. Consumers are paying about the same for fresh fruits and vegetables as last year, but the farmers' share of the food dollar has increased. Farmers must pay the expenses of producing the crop before any profit is earned. Last year many commodity prices were less than production costs. Higher prices this season help offset last year's losses.
Researchers are working on developing a watermelon with an orange flesh. Typically, the developers visit trade meetings of watermelon associations and outline what they are doing. Then, they select a few growers in different locations to plant test plots. Once a melon with proper sugar and texture is produced, promoters must convince farmers there is a market for the new product. It will be some time before consumers have a chance to purchase orange flesh watermelons as years of field trials are still ahead.Top