Food & Farm News
» March 7, 2012 «
The increasing price of gasoline is pinching the bottom line for Americans, and farmers are feeling the same squeeze. The price of diesel fuel used in many farm activities, from field preparation to planting and harvest to delivery, has increased to nearly 4-and-a-half dollars. The price California farmers pay for farm-use diesel is significantly higher than the national average, and some farmers anticipate that consumers will be affected as costs are absorbed at the retail level.
Recent rains were too little too late for some farmers in California. This could be the driest winter on record in some parts of the state, and consequently, farmers are making tough decisions about how they will sustain crops they have already planted. While there is still time left in the season for precipitation to help boost water supplies, farmers are determining how they will access water for existing crops or decrease the amount of acres they will plant in the coming months.
The mild winter has helped farmers grow high-quality artichokes in Southern California and the Central Coast. The California Artichoke Advisory Board reports that a surge in artichokes is expected as spring progresses. Large artichokes will be available in stores for the next few weeks, with smaller varieties arriving in mid-April. The quantity and quality of artichokes is expected to remain excellent as long as the weather continues to be mild. With a steady supply, consumers can expect prices to be favorable through the summer.
Despite record prices, wool production in California declined slightly last year. Sheep within the state produced 2.9 million pounds of wool in 2011. This is a decrease of about 3 percent compared to the previous year. The US Agriculture Department reports that last year there were 470,000 sheep shorn for wool in California. Across the country, ranchers saw record prices for wool, and in California the average price paid for wool was $1.70 per pound, slightly higher than the national average.Top