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» April 6, 2007 «
Lingering effects from the January freeze ... combined with a seasonal transition from one harvest region to another ... have affected prices for a number of California-grown vegetables. Market watchers say eggplant supplies have been especially tight, and that demand also outstrips supplies of broccoli and cauliflower. Supplies are beginning to pick up from the Salinas Valley and Santa Maria. And consumers should find pre-Easter bargains on asparagus and artichokes.
Three more California counties have been declared agricultural disaster areas because of damaging winter weather. The U.S. Agriculture Department declared a disaster in San Diego County because of crop losses from the January freeze, and in Mendocino and Sonoma counties due to the freeze and lack of rain. The declarations make farmers eligible to apply for emergency, low-interest loans. More than two-dozen counties have been declared disasters due to the winter weather.
The impact of higher grain prices showed itself in a retail food-price survey conducted by the American Farm Bureau. The survey showed a 4 percent rise compared to the previous quarter, led by price increases for eggs and meat. A Farm Bureau economist says higher prices for feed grains rippled through retail food markets. Even so, meat prices in the survey stayed close to their levels of a year ago.
Demand for goat meat and milk continues to grow. The Southern Counties Dairy Goat Herd Improvement Association says goat producers typically see a demand increase before Easter. Milk producers report a steady demand increase both for fluid milk and products such as cheese. Most of the expansion in goat production comes in Northern California because of increasing land costs in southern counties.Top