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» December 19, 2005 «
The death toll among California horses infected with West Nile virus has reached 200. A horse in Santa Clara County became the 200th to be killed by the virus this year. But West Nile virus illnesses and deaths among horses have each dropped about 15 percent from a year ago. Officials urge horse owners to have their animals vaccinated now, to make sure the vaccine provides immunity before weather warms next spring.
Analysts who follow the retail beef market report mixed signals heading into the holidays. A government report says wholesale prices for choice-grade beef are higher than they were a year ago ... but that retail prices haven't moved much. The report says retailers have delayed passing along the higher wholesale prices, so far. During November, retail prices for choice beef averaged about $4.00 a pound, slightly lower than a year earlier.
Even before they hit their key period, sales of California sparkling wines have risen sharply this year. A wine-business analyst says California sparkling-wine sales jumped 16 percent through September, compared to a year ago. Producers of sparkling wines have worked to boost sales throughout the year, with some success. But the holiday season remains the peak sales period for sparkling wines.
For a third straight year, the federal government will increase the amount of figs it buys for food-assistance programs. The U.S. Agriculture Department says it will buy up to 6 million pounds of figs. The fruit will be available to school-lunch programs and other assistance efforts. The California Fig Advisory Board says the presence of figs in child-nutrition programs helps to introduce youngsters to the fruit.Top