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» November 28, 2007 «
A proposal to require older diesel trucks to be phased out could have a "huge impact" on farms and other sectors of the economy, according to a presentation being made today (Wednesday) to the State Board of Food and Agriculture. The proposal by the Air Resources Board would require trucks weighing more than 14 thousand pounds to be replaced or upgraded. Farm and trucking groups say that in some cases, the trucks could have to be replaced twice, at considerable cost.
The first official water-supply outlook from the State Water Project says the system may be able to deliver only one quarter of its contract supplies next year. It's the lowest beginning allocation the project has made since 2003, and officials cautioned that continued dry weather could lead to further reductions. Deliveries will also be affected by court rulings requiring water to be set aside for protected fish.
Five more California counties have been declared drought disaster areas by the U.S. Agriculture Department. The declaration affects Inyo, Lassen, Mono, Plumas and Sierra counties. Farmers there and in neighboring counties can apply for low-interest disaster loans. At least 32 California counties have been declared crop disaster areas because of drought losses to rangeland, pastures and other crops.
In the future, drought-tolerant plants could help farmers cope with reduced water supplies. Researchers at the University of California, Davis, have announced development of plants that can grow on 70 percent less water. Using biotechnology, scientists at Davis and other institutions created tobacco plants that would maintain their leaves even during severe water shortages. The researchers plan to test the method in other plants, such as tomatoes, rice, wheat and cottonTop