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» February 7, 2008 «
Proposed changes to a temporary-worker program could be a partial solution to meet labor needs on farms and ranches, according to the California Farm Bureau. The Bush administration outlined proposals for the program yesterday (Wednesday). Farm Bureau President Doug Mosebar says few California farmers can use the program now. He and other farm leaders want Congress to pass a bill called AgJOBS, which would provide more comprehensive changes to agricultural immigration programs.
In another month or so, young figs will start popping out on trees in the Central Valley. Fig farmers say the off-season offers promise for a good-sized crop this year. Rain has provided soil moisture in fig orchards. The growing regions have also avoided prolonged cold weather, which can damage young fig trees. California has the only commercial fig production area in the country, located in the Central San Joaquin Valley.
If you wanted to plant a new walnut orchard, you might have to wait until 2010 to buy the young trees you'd need. Many nurseries have already sold the trees they have available for this year, and next year, too. Demand from farmers is high because of the good prices farmers earn from walnuts now. And the supply of young trees has been hurt somewhat, by production troubles reported at some plant nurseries.
Increased demand for french-fried sweet potatoes provides an expanded market for California farmers. Food processors have been buying more sweet potatoes to make french fries. That gives farmers a place to sell sweet potatoes with cosmetic flaws that make them unsuitable for the fresh market. The Sweet Potato Council of California says as much as 15 percent of the state's crop now goes into french fries, up from 5 percent in earlier years.Top