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» May 1, 2008 «
Saying that farmers want to assure that food remains available and affordable for everyone, the head of the nation's largest farm group said rising energy costs have been the main factor pushing food prices higher. American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman told a news conference in Washington yesterday (Wednesday) that growing world demand and other factors also affect food prices. He said American farmers would continue to produce abundant supplies of safe, top-quality food.
Supplies of California-grown peaches, nectarines and plums should be slightly larger this year. The California Tree Fruit Agreement made the projections, and said frost in mid-April had reduced the plum crop somewhat. Even so, the organization said it expects the plum crop to be 7 percent larger than last year's. Fruit orchards benefited from favorable weather before the freeze. California leads the nation in production of all three fruits.
As California olive trees come into bloom, growers say indications point to a light crop. Olives are known to produce smaller crops in alternate years, and the Olive Growers Council says the new harvest could be much less than last year's heavy crop. The council says this variability in year-to-year production leaves farmers vulnerable to international competition, as processors import olives to maintain adequate supplies. California is the only source of domestically grown olives.
At the same time as many California wheat farmers check their crops for potential freeze damage, researchers announced that they have identified the genes that provide frost tolerance for wheat. A plant expert at the University of California, Davis, says the knowledge allows plant breeders to develop wheat varieties that can better withstand cold temperatures. Frost damage is a significant risk in producing wheat, and observers say the April freeze will likely reduce yields in California.Top