Food & Farm News
Audio ActualityRanchers' comments about how they're coping with dry rangeland conditions
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» July 1, 2008 «
A sell-off continues on many California cattle ranches. With rangelands turned brown and springs drying up, ranchers have been forced to sell animals early. For example, ranchers along the Central Coast say they've sold calves a month earlier than usual. Many ranchers have begun selling some of their breeding stock. Drought has dried out rangeland grasses throughout the state, with 97 percent of California range and pastureland rated in "poor" or "very poor" condition.
Crop damage from a mid-April freeze has led to a federal disaster designation for three Northern California counties. The U.S. Agriculture Department said yesterday (Monday) it had declared agricultural disasters in Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties. Farmers in the region lost millions of dollars' worth of walnuts, peaches, prunes and other crops during the freeze. The declaration allows farmers in those counties and neighboring counties to apply for low-interest emergency loans.
Almond farmers expect to set new production records when they harvest their crops later this summer. A crop forecast issued yesterday estimated the crop at a record-high 1-and-a-half billion pounds. Forecasters said the almond crop benefited from what they called a "nearly perfect" bloom. The report said many almond tree limbs are bowing under the weight of the heavy crop. California farms produce more than three-quarters of the world's almond crop.
Inspired by the prospect of strong prices… and spurred in some cases by water shortages… California farmers sharply expanded acreage of several grain crops. Plantings of oats, wheat, barley and safflower showed the biggest percentage gains, in a government report released yesterday. California's corn acreage reached an all-time high. But acreage of upland cotton hit its lowest level on record, and farmers also cut plantings of hay, beans and sugar beets.Top