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» July 19, 2007 «
There's still a long way to go, but early activity on the federal Farm Bill indicates change that could benefit California farmers and ranchers. House Agriculture Committee leaders have agreed to enhance spending on programs that affect what are called "specialty crops," such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and nursery crops. The money would come in the form of grants for research, conservation and market development. But changes to the Farm Bill remain possible on the House floor and in the Senate.
Rain in the Sacramento Valley causes concern about possible damage to peaches, prunes and hay. County agricultural commissioners say a half-inch or more of rain fell in some places yesterday (Wednesday). That could harm peaches, which are now being harvested, and prunes. Farmers who have cut hay on the ground will lose quality and have to sell at a lower price. Most other crops should be okay. If will be a few days before the full impact can be assessed.
California solidified its role as the nation's top dairy state during the first half of the year. A U.S. Agriculture Department report released yesterday indicated the state's cows produced more than 2.3 billion gallons from January to June. That's up nearly 4 percent from last year's record pace. California's milk cow population stands at 1.8 million, up slightly from a year ago.
With a goal of expanding markets and updating practices, a cooperative program seeks to improve the fig business. The California Fig Advisory board and a research initiative based at Fresno State University conducted consumer research, and learned that there's potential to expand markets particularly for fresh figs. There's also health research on figs underway, and farmers have started using a Web-based program for inspection data on their crops.Top