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» May 22, 2007 «
It's a reversal of fortune for California rice farmers, as a result of the state's dry spring weather. Rice farmers are ahead of their typical schedule for planting their crops, according to a government report released yesterday (Monday). About 85 percent of the state's rice has been planted. A year ago, only a third of the crop had been planted, because of cool and rainy weather. And farmers say most of their rice is in good or excellent condition, much improved from a year ago.
Nearly all California grazing land is now listed in "poor" or "very poor" shape … and pastures in other states have been hurt by dry weather, too. That's one factor cited in a government forecast for slower growth in cattle inventories this year. The report says average retail prices for choice-grade beef rose to $4.29 a pound during April. That's the second-highest price on record.
In the center of California's fight against the light brown apple moth, local officials say it will be a "huge undertaking" to beat the pest. Of the more than 2,000 moths that have been trapped in California, nearly 80 percent have been found in Santa Cruz County. The county agricultural commissioner says it's been an "overwhelming" job to help farms, nurseries and individuals comply with a plant quarantine. Scientists recommended last week that the state aim for long-term eradication of the moth.
It's costing more to fight fires on U.S. Forest Service land, and an independent panel has recommended ways to reduce costs while protecting safety. The Forest Service says it will act immediately on the recommendations from the Brookings Institution. The suggestions include continuous updates of fire-management plans and stronger links to land-management plans. The panel reviewed the response to 19 large forest fires that burned more than a million acres last year.Top