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» November 10, 2005 «
This week's election brought a hopeful sign for California farmers, with the defeat of a county measure that would have banned biotech crops. Sonoma County voters handily rejected the measure. The California Farm Bureau says the vote shows that people recognize their food is safe, and understand the need for innovation and flexibility on California farms. The Sonoma County Farm Bureau president says voters respected the opinions of family farmers who opposed the measure.
A near-record California winegrape crop has encouraged some farmers to consider new options. A North Coast wine broker said growers who lack contracts for their grapes could find themselves with few options. The large volumes of winegrapes on the market this year have prompted some winegrape growers to obtain winery permits as a way to diversify. Because consolidation of buyers may limit opportunities to sell their grapes, those growers may become winemakers themselves.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could not discriminate against out-of-state wineries, small California wineries report a slow gain in sales to residents of other states. Several states have adopted laws that allow their residents to buy directly from out-of-state wineries. The Wine Institute says getting state legislatures and regulatory agencies to adopt new rules is a slow process. California wineries expect continued, but slow, sales increases.
Southern California farmers describe this week's rain as more of a nuisance than a cause of crop damage. But winegrape growers in San Luis Obispo County say it will be some time before they know for certain if moisture hurt their grapes. Vegetable growers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have had their harvests interrupted. Ventura County strawberry pickers were working in the light rain. Ranchers throughout the Southland say the rain benefits rangeland grasses.Top