Food & Farm News
» July 4, 2005 «
Attention turns to the House of Representatives, as supporters seek final approval for the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The Senate approved the agreement last week, a step that farm groups called "a big win for U.S. agriculture." The American Farm Bureau says the agreement would ultimately boost U.S. farm exports to Central American nations by nearly $1.5 billion each year. The House is expected to vote on the agreement this month.
Members of a walnut marketing cooperative have voted to convert it into a public, for-profit company. Diamond of California said (Friday) its member growers approved the planned change, with 80 percent in favor of the conversion. Diamond says a public stock offering will allow the company to raise money that it would use to develop new products and promote existing products such as its Emerald Nuts snack line.
Two key factors--weather and markets--caused California farmers to plant fewer acres of most field crops this year. A government report says farmers planted less hay, cotton, rice, wheat, sugar beets and barley. Lower prices for the commodities led to some of the acreage reduction, but weather at planting time also became a factor. Plantings of corn and oats bucked the trend, each increasing this season.
In the heart of California potato country, years of low prices have caused most farmers to reduce their acreage and at least one to leave the business altogether. Farmers in Kern County produce more than 60 percent of California-grown potatoes. They say they're used to wide swings in prices, but that earnings have stayed low for several straight years. Some farmers have responded by switching to other crops, while others say that their land remains best suited to potato production.Top