Food & Farm News
Audio ActualityA farmer and a processor comment about prunes
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» October 28, 2009 «
The current economic squeeze has more families looking for fun close to home ... and they're finding it at many of the state's family farms. Farmers say agritourism has remained strong, with visits to pumpkin patches, corn mazes, orchards and berry patches attracting crowds that benefit farm families and rural communities. One Orange County farmer, for example, said the number of people visiting his farm has risen as much as 15 percent, though per-person spending has declined.
As competition stiffens on the world market, California prune growers emphasize the quality and safety of their product. Prune production has been increasing rapidly in Chile, Argentina and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere. Even with the added competition, California produces about half of the world's prunes. They're marketed as dried plums here in the U.S. There are about 64,000 acres of prune orchards in California, mainly in the Central Valley.
Your vegetable-buying dollar likely will go further this winter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says farmers have planted more acreage of fresh-market vegetables than they did a year ago, and that it expects retail prices to be slightly lower. Retail prices for fresh vegetables dropped 7 percent during the summer months. The USDA said vegetable prices eased in part because of sluggish demand from restaurants and other foodservice operations.
Slow business from restaurants and other customers has caused what one analyst calls "dreadful demand" for meat, poultry and dairy products. But speakers at an outlook conference sponsored by the American Farm Bureau said they believe other sectors of agriculture could improve more rapidly in the coming year. Economists described a "cautiously optimistic" outlook for farmers and ranchers in 2010, particularly if economic recovery revives consumer demand for farm goods.Top