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» April 22, 2005 «
Farmers who have encountered higher fuel costs this spring hope for longer-term help from the energy bill passed by the House of Representatives yesterday (Thursday). Farm groups support the measure as a way to assure the reliable energy supplies that farmers and ranchers need. An American Farm Bureau spokesman estimates that farmers spent an additional $6 billion in energy-related costs the past two growing seasons, not counting this season˜s sharp increases.
Flower growers have encountered a few headaches in shipping their blooms to market. The main flower-trucking firm gave up the business last fall, and replacement companies are still learning how to transport the fragile flowers. The California Cut Flower Commission has formed a committee to work out the shipping issues. Meantime, some blooms are moving via package shippers, others on standard refrigerated trucks, and a few by air.
Americans appear to be taking the advice to eat more fresh vegetables. Measured on a per-person basis, use of fresh vegetables increased 4 percent last year, according to a government report released yesterday. The U.S. Agriculture Department says the most notable increases in vegetable demand came in spinach, cauliflower, onions, cabbage and lettuce. The report says the average American consumed nearly 150 pounds of fresh vegetables last year.
The word is "so far, so good," for North Coast winegrape growers. But a key point in the growing season is still to come. In the Napa Valley, farmers estimate bloom time for winegrapes remains about three weeks away. Weather has been favorable so far, and the vines accumulated adequate chill hours over the winter. It will be a couple weeks after the bloom period before farmers can gauge how their crop looks.
On the Calendar:
A "state of the state" agricultural overview highlights the spring meeting of the Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers today (Friday) in Sacramento. The Asparagus Festival opens today in Stockton, while Santa Maria kicks off its Strawberry Festival. On Saturday, Petaluma hosts its annual Butter and Egg Days Parade and Sebastopol starts its Apple Blossom Festival.