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» August 8, 2005 «
Recovery may continue this year, for winegrape growers who had seen several years of depressed prices. Farmers' representatives report strong demand for many grape varieties. As a result, grower associations throughout the state say winegrape prices are rising, though the degree of the price increases depends on the variety and where it's grown. Many California grape growers removed vineyards, after selling grapes at a loss in previous years.
Five Central California counties have been declared crop disaster areas. The federal declaration covers damage done by rain and hail during late April and early May. Although tree fruit suffered most of the damage, any farmer who lost more than 30 percent of any crop can apply for emergency loans. The declaration covers Fresno, Kern, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties. Farmers in neighboring counties may also be eligible for disaster aid.
Reports of West Nile virus among California horses continue to accelerate. Thirty-seven horses were diagnosed with the virus during the past week, and another 16 horses died. In all, West Nile virus has killed 40 horses this year. Both the number of cases and the number of horse deaths are higher than they were at this time a year ago. Veterinarians urge horse owners to vaccinate their animals against the virus.
Farmland values in California rose more than 9 percent this year, according to a new report from the U.S. Agriculture Department. The annual report placed the average value of California farmland at more than $4,100 an acre. That's nearly three times the national average. The USDA said farmland values rose throughout the country, fueled by low interest rates, high commodity production and prices, and demand for nonagricultural land uses.Top