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» November 2, 2005 «
The Bush administration's strategy to safeguard against pandemic flu includes enhanced programs to protect poultry farms from highly transmissible forms of avian influenza. The U.S. Agriculture Department says it will seek an additional $91 million for domestic and international flu-prevention programs. Most of the extra money would be spent domestically, to prevent and control avian influenza on commercial poultry farms.
Cattle ranchers hope predictions for rain in Northern California hold true. The ranchers have been moving their animals from high-elevation summer pastures to foothill and valley grazing areas. Much of that rangeland is dried-out now and subject to wildfire, though there is abundant dry grass for forage. Ranchers have been providing supplemental food for their cattle. They say rain would stimulate growth of grass and other plants and lessen the fire threat.
In other parts of the country, farmers continue to cope with the aftermath of hurricanes and floods that hit their regions last month. In Florida, the state agriculture commissioner says the damage from Hurricane Wilma will be worse than any other storm he has ever seen. Meantime, New England growers have flood damage caused by nearly two weeks of heavy rain. Those floods came as farmers were petitioning for drought relief following an extremely dry summer.
The federal government's ban on beluga caviar from the Black Sea basin has stimulated demand for California caviar. Farmers who raise sturgeon for caviar say wholesale prices now stand 25 percent higher than they did a year ago. Many wholesalers are out of caviar and are seeking to buy more California-produced product. The government banned the Black Sea caviar because of concerns about the wild sturgeon population there.Top