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» October 21, 2005 «
As temperatures fall and natural gas prices rise, California greenhouse operators say they must hope for a mild winter. Flower growers say they have been told to expect natural gas prices to rise 70 percent. Cutting back on heat could disrupt the timing of flower crops, meaning farmers could miss important sales periods such as Valentine's Day. California growers oversee nearly 100 million square feet of greenhouse flower production.
State natural-resources agencies say they will take a "research-based, scientific approach" to address the decline of delta smelt and other fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Officials announced yesterday (Thursday) a plan to learn what's affecting the fish and how to resolve the situation. The delta serves as a hub for California's water supply system. Farm and water groups say they support a science-based approach to evaluate a wide range of potential causes for the fish decline.
Additional natural controls for the glassy-winged sharpshooter may be on the way, from South America. The sharpshooter is an insect that carries a fatal plant disease, and first appeared in Southern California 15 years ago. Scientists have used natural enemies, imported from the southeastern U.S., to fight the insect. They're also checking tiny wasps from Argentina, which may prove effective at destroying sharpshooter eggs.
Because farmers and ranchers must make significant investments in land, equipment and buildings, most of their resources are tied up in such capital assets. Farm groups say that's why it's important for Congress to extend reduced capital-gains tax rates. The American Farm Bureau urged Congress yesterday to make the tax reductions permanent. It said capital gains taxes make it harder for farmers to sell unneeded assets and to adapt and upgrade their operations.Top