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» November 5, 2007 «
As the U.S. Senate debates a new federal Farm Bill this week, California farmers and ranchers say they'll work to make sure it creates new market opportunities and improves their competitiveness. A California Farm Bureau spokeswoman says the bill contains programs that can help promote California-grown farm products to foreign consumers … nutritional programs that will encourage schoolchildren to eat more fruits and vegetables … and programs to stimulate on-farm conservation work.
Retail lettuce prices have started to ease, especially for head lettuce, after jumping during October. A report from the government Market News Service shows advertised retail prices for iceberg lettuce dropped to an average of 79 cents each during the past week. Reduced acreage and lighter yields had driven lettuce prices higher last month. Analysts say lettuce supplies should improve as desert growing areas increase their harvest during November.
With the prospect of sharply reduced water supplies looming, farmers in the western San Joaquin Valley are considering their options. In some cases, farmers say they will idle all of their land they had previously planted with vegetables, cotton and other row crops, so they can save the available water for orchards and vineyards. One farmer says he has created a small groundwater storage bank on his farm, which he can tap to keep his permanent crops alive if water supplies are tight.
Pistachios could become an answer for Central Valley farmers dealing with the scarcity and expense of irrigation water. University of California farm advisors say farmers may be able to grow pistachios successfully, even using water of "marginal quality." Given that, plus healthy markets for the crop, farm advisors say they expect to see more pistachios planted in the valley this year.Top