Food & Farm News
» February 14, 2005 «
Now is the time for horse owners to vaccinate their animals against West Nile virus. Veterinarians recommend that horses be vaccinated during February and March, before mosquitoes become active. The mosquito-borne virus killed more than 200 California horses last year. Most of those horses had not been vaccinated. Officials say West Nile virus turned up in every California county during 2004, and say they fear more cases of the disease this year.
For the first time in many years, ranchers plan to expand their lamb production this season. Lamb prices have hit record highs for this time of year, and farmers have retained more ewes in order to meet the increased demand. The California Sheep Commission says it expects lamb supplies to be tight throughout the year. Growing ethnic markets within the U.S. have boosted demand. California ranks second in the nation in sheep-and-lamb production, behind Texas.
Constantly changing consumer expectations will drive the work of fruit marketers. A representative of the California Tree Fruit Agreement says farmers have seen sales growth among new fruit varieties such as pluots and white-fleshed nectarines. During a seminar at last week's World Ag Expo in Tulare, he said shoppers expect choice, quality and value for their money. They also want convenience, which is why marketers now offer more fresh-cut fruit.
Do you plan to change what you eat, as a result of the government's new dietary guidelines? The guidelines, released last month, include the recommendation that Americans increase fruit and vegetable consumption. The Produce Marketing Association surveyed consumers, and found that 10 percent said they would likely change their diets as a result. People who were more familiar with the guidelines were more likely to change, and produce marketers will be featuring the government's advice in new promotions.Top