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» November 1, 2007 «
The new nominee for U.S. agriculture secretary comes from North Dakota. President Bush nominated former North Dakota governor Ed Schafer as agriculture secretary yesterday (Wednesday). A California Farm Bureau spokesman said Schafer has a "keen understanding" of agriculture. He said California farmers will work to make sure he's familiar with issues particularly important to family farmers and ranchers here, such as pest prevention, trade and research.
In the past week, Southern California farms suffered not just from wildfires but from violent windstorms, too. Preliminary damage reports from wind losses have begun. In Riverside County, officials say winds caused at least $11 million dollars in damage to avocados and nursery crops. In Ventura County, between $10 million and $15 million dollars' worth of avocados may have been blown off trees. Officials in both counties say figures will change as they learn more.
The difference between a record crop and a near-record crop can be small, and mid-October rain in Northern California apparently thwarted record production of processing tomatoes. Analysts say the rain caused the California harvest to taper off more quickly than expected. As a result, production will likely fall just short of the record set eight years ago. California dominates production of the tomatoes used to make salsa, pasta sauce and other products.
Because rangelands have dried out so completely in California this year, cattle ranchers have not been able to provide enough forage for their animals … and many have responded by sending cattle to market earlier than they would otherwise. That trend is reflected in figures issued yesterday. A government report says cattle sent to market during September weighed, on average, 35 pounds less than the cattle California ranchers sent to market the same month a year ago.Top