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» March 3, 2006 «
A key foreign market for California milk has closed off, for now. The Mexican government imposed a temporary, 30 percent import tax on U.S. milk products this week. Mexico said it took the action because of a temporary glut of domestic milk on the market. The move hits California producers of non-fat dry milk especially hard. Most California-grown milk is sold within the U.S., but Mexico is the top export market for the state's dairy products.
Rain has been welcome on dried-out Southern California pastures ... but in Northwestern California, cattle ranchers say they've seen too much of a good thing. Humboldt County ranchers say they're hoping for a dry spell. Rainfall in the region stands at more than 60 percent above average. Muddy pastures complicate ranchers' work to care for their herds. One rancher reports that a third of his pastureland has been underwater since before Christmas.
By finding a better way to wash cherries, researchers say they will enhance the crop's quality and marketability. Pests can feed on cherries after they're picked, scarring their surface and leaving the fruit less desirable. The California Cherry Advisory Board has put money into a study of new ways to bathe, dip or spray the fruit, to wash and protect it. Government and university scientists are collaborating on the project.
A leader in the California cattle business will leave his post, to direct rural-development activities in the state. Benjamin Higgins will become state director for the U.S. Agriculture Department's Rural Development agency. Rural Development invests in programs to support business growth, homeownership and other economic activity in rural areas. Higgins currently serves as executive director of the California Cattlemen's Association.Top