Food & Farm News
» September 6, 2005 «
In a vote that will be closely watched by family farmers and ranchers, the United States Senate may decide this week whether to repeal permanently the federal estate tax. Farm groups call it the death tax, and say it complicates efforts to pass family farms from one generation to the next. A number of California farmers say they have had to sell off portions of land in order to pay estate taxes after a family member died.
Describing this as a "troublesome year" for California tomato growers, crop forecasters reduced their estimate of the processing tomato harvest. Poor planting conditions in the spring were followed by moist, hot weather that encouraged crop diseases in tomato fields. The crop is now forecast to be 12 percent smaller than last year's. California farms produce about 95 percent of domestically grown tomatoes that go into ketchup, salsa and other products.
Increased demand absorbed a surge in California blueberry production. More farmers have been planting blueberries, especially in the Central Valley. Growers produced about 9.5 million pounds of fruit this year ... up from about 5 million pounds last year. Growers expect a similar increase next year, when almost 90 percent of the planted acreage comes into full production. They say demand for California blueberries remains encouraging.
With the goal of assuring that fresh fruits and vegetables reach market even fresher, University of California researchers will study how air flows through various types of produce packages. The team from U.C. Davis will investigate existing package designs ... such as the "clamshell" packages that now carry many fresh fruits ... and new designs, as well. They want to find packages in which produce cools uniformly, to help it maintain freshness.Top