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» July 17, 2008 «
Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama outlined their positions on farm issues yesterday (Wednesday), during separate teleconferences with the American Farm Bureau Council of Presidents. McCain pledged his support for trade agreements that open markets for American farm goods. Obama stressed his support for the new federal farm bill. Both candidates said they favor reform of federal immigration laws.
Small amounts of additional water have become available to farmers in the western San Joaquin Valley. The Westlands Water District negotiated transfers to provide one-half of an acre-foot of water to each of its farm customers. Farmers will use most of the additional water to keep orchards and vineyards alive. The transfer won't affect autumn water availability, and most growers have already decided not to plant lettuce and other fall vegetables because of water shortages.
Cotton farmers have either not planted or abandoned more than 48,000 acres of California farmland because of water shortages. The state Department of Food and Agriculture says its field reports don't specify whether the land was left fallow, or was planted and later abandoned. The Calcot cooperative in Bakersfield says some farmers are giving cotton plants minimal amounts of water, hoping rain might ultimately add enough moisture to save the crop.
A popular conservation program received a financial boost from the federal government. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program shares costs with farmers and ranchers who pursue projects to improve air quality, enhance water efficiency or achieve other conservation goals. The U.S. Agriculture Department said it has directed another $200 million dollars to the program. A California Farm Bureau spokeswoman says the new money will allow more projects to be completed.Top