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» May 6, 2005 «
Now that it has drafted plans for a national animal identification program, the federal government wants to find out what farmers and ranchers think about them. The program aims eventually to be able to trace all commercially raised food animals, as an additional food-safety assurance. At a news conference yesterday (Thursday), officials asked for comments on the draft plan. Ranchers have expressed concerns about how the system would protect their privacy and about how costs will be shared.
The drive toward healthier fast food leads to new customers for California nut and fruit marketers. McDonald's Restaurants announced this week it will offer a new fruit and walnut salad, which will feature California-grown nuts, red grapes and apples. The California Table Grape Commission says a number of other restaurant chains have added menu items with fresh grapes, including Wendy's, Arby's and Denny's.
Lettuce has matured faster than Salinas Valley farmers originally thought it would, and that has helped close a gap in lettuce supplies. Marketers had feared a sharp drop in supplies as the lettuce harvest moved from one growing region to another. But favorable weather allowed lettuce to mature faster than expected, and farmers say recent rain hasn't harmed crop quality or slowed the harvest. As a result, wholesale lettuce prices have been declining.
First-of-the-season fresh figs should begin appearing on the market in another couple of weeks. The California Fresh Fig Growers Association says farmers believe they'll have a good-sized crop this year. But figs have been delayed a bit by rain and cool weather, and farmers have had to protect their crops from fungal diseases. Almost all the figs grown in the United States come from trees in Madera and Merced counties.
On the Calendar:
The San Bernardino County Fair begins tomorrow (Saturday) in Victorville.