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» January 28, 2008 «
Water shortages loom for many Central Valley farmers, according to a preliminary forecast issued (Friday) by the federal Central Valley Project. The CVP estimated it can deliver only 25 percent of contract water supplies to its farm customers. The project says its forecast reflects uncertainty about changes in operations required to benefit a protected fish. But it says allocations could rise because of storms that have boosted the Sierra snowpack.
Livestock ranchers and horse owners will likely face continued tight supplies of hay. Analysts say concerns about water availability will keep the state's hay acreage about the same as last year. A government report showed stocks of hay actually rose in California last month, compared to a year ago. But observers say that's because California buyers imported hay from several other Western states. Hay stocks in those other states have dropped, sharply.
The focus will be on the Farm Bill, as a group of California Farm Bureau leaders visits Washington this week. Congress has not yet produced a final version of a bill to re-authorize federal farm programs. Farm Bureau leaders will ask Congress and the administration to resolve funding questions that have slowed the Farm Bill. A Farm Bureau spokeswoman says key features of the bill include expanded research on air-and-water quality, and increased fruits and vegetables in school lunch programs.
Shoppers had more California-grown vegetables to choose among last year. An annual report issued (Friday) by the U.S. Agriculture Department showed that the state's production of both fresh and processed vegetables rose during 2007. The report estimates the farm value of the crop at more than $6.7 billion. California farms produced half the nation's supply of domestically grown, fresh vegetables.Top