Food & Farm News
October 23, 2013
Key issues remain before Congress
With the federal government returning to full operation, California farmers and ranchers say they will press Congress to resolve two key issues before the end of the year. Farmers want Congress to finish work on an immigration-reform bill that includes an improved agricultural immigration program. They will also advocate for a rewrite of federal farm policy, to replace a farm bill that expired at the end of September.
Cotton harvest hits halfway point
Nearly ideal weather for growing cotton could lead to record yields in the Central Valley this season. But California's overall cotton production will be down, due to water shortages and market conditions. The favorable weather has pushed the crop ahead of its typical harvest schedule. A weekly crop report shows the California cotton harvest to have reached the halfway mark, with two-thirds of the crop rated in “excellent” condition.
Survey tracks farm-to-school trend
More than 300 California school districts reported participating in some sort of farm-to-school program, according to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Agriculture Department. In releasing results of its first Farm to School Census, the USDA said 43 percent of public school districts across the country have started such programs. Through farm-to-school programs, schools purchase food from local farmers, offer school gardens or other activities.
Prickly pear cactus shows promise
Its fruit can be eaten; its pulp and juice can be used to produce jams, jellies and other products. And the prickly pear cactus can grow in harsh soil with limited water. For that reason, plant breeders have been experimenting with growing the cactus in the western San Joaquin Valley. Researchers say the work has shown enough promise to warrant four new patents on cultivated cactus varieties. They're continuing to study the nutritional properties of the crop.