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» December 22, 2010 «
Farm groups say the tax package approved in Washington last week will bring short-term benefits for farmers and ranchers, but that they will continue to seek permanent reforms. At the top of the list is the federal estate tax. The new law revised exemption levels and estate tax rates, but only for the next two years. The California Farm Bureau says it will seek passage of a bill to defer the estate tax on property that will remain in family agricultural production.
Numerous causes have been proposed and investigated, for the honeybee problem known as colony collapse disorder. But a new report about research into the disorder says the cause of the malady remains unknown. Researchers have learned that many different factors may work individually or in combination to cause the bee losses. They say work will continue to pinpoint the causes and protect bee colonies.
The 2010 season marked a recovery year for the California olive harvest, with volumes at least three times larger than last year's crop. The California Olive Committee says the mild spring and summer delayed harvest by as much as 40 days, which led to some trouble at the end of the harvest. A freeze around Thanksgiving time ruined many of the olives that hadn't been picked by then.
Both of California's leading nut crops recorded 17 percent increases in harvest volume this year, according to government estimates. That means that the almond harvest increased to more than 1.6 billion pounds, and the walnut harvest rose to 510,000 tons. California produces virtually the entire U.S. crop of both nuts. The state's pecan production also increased this year, though at a smaller rate. Figures for pistachios aren't available yet.Top