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» April 12, 2005 «
It's been an unusually slow start for farmers of an important Central Valley crop. Only 5 percent of California's cotton has been planted so far, according to preliminary government figures issued yesterday (Monday). That's far behind last year's pace, when more than half the crop had been planted by now. Winter and spring rains have left ground too wet to plant. Delayed planting can lead to delayed harvest, which makes the mature cotton vulnerable to rain damage before it's picked.
Klamath Basin farmers will be assessing their planting plans, now that they've learned how much water to expect. The federal Klamath Project says it will deliver about 70 percent of irrigation water allocations. But farmers note that figure includes water that they have committed to a water bank ... and the project has asked them to reduce use further. Some farmers may change crops, for example by planting potatoes for processing, which require less water than those grown for the fresh market.
As Congress prepares to debate a potential Central American Free Trade Agreement, agricultural leaders from across the United States joined Bush administration officials in a news conference yesterday to support the proposal. Farm representatives said the agreement would open new markets for U.S. agricultural products. Supporters cited a study by the American Farm Bureau Federation, which indicates the agreement could increase U.S. farm exports by $8 billion dollars.
On-farm milk prices will rise slightly next month, according to the state Department of Food and Agriculture. On May 1st, California dairy farmers will be paid an average of $1.42 for a gallon of milk, up 2 cents from current prices. The state sets farm milk prices based on a formula that includes markets for cheese and butter. It does not regulate retail milk prices.Top