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» December 14, 2007 «
Aid has been hard to come by, for Southern California farmers who lost crops to wildfires in October. The executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau says most farmers can't qualify for the low-interest emergency loans offered by government agencies. Other agricultural aid programs that could help have no money in their budgets. Farm groups have been working with Congress to try to rectify that.
Both on the short term and the long term, government weather forecasts hold out hope for at least partial relief from California's ongoing dry spell. Forecasters say patterns indicate that at least two storm systems, and perhaps three, will reach the Northern Sierra Nevada next week. A long-range outlook from the federal Climate Prediction Center shows drought conditions easing in much of Northern California through February, and easing somewhat in the southern half of the state.
The severe, lengthy drought in Australia leaves people there more reliant on imported citrus fruit. That's one reason for continued grown in sales of California-grown citrus to Australia. Fruit exporters shipped an additional 2 million boxes of citrus to Australia last year, compared to the year before. Sales have been helped further by a program that expedites release of fruit shipments at Australian ports.
Companies in California and Texas have won licenses to develop a new, natural pesticide. Government researchers found a bacterium that attacks several insect pests. The bacterium kills larvae of the Colorado potato beetle and weakens other pests including gypsy moths, small hive beetles and whiteflies. The U.S. Agriculture Department granted licenses to two private firms, to market the bacterium as a biocontrol agent against the pests.Top