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» January 6, 2006 «
North Coast counties estimate they suffered more than $35 million dollars' worth of agricultural damage, from flooding during New Year's weekend. In Napa County alone, officials estimate farm damage at nearly $33 million. One Napa County farmer says a levee breach destroyed some of his grapevines, and floodwaters carried debris into many vineyards. Officials in other counties continue to assess farm-related damage from the floods.
An agricultural disaster has been declared for a section of Northern California that was affected by cold, wet weather last year. The U.S. Agriculture Department issued the declaration for Sutter County and six neighboring counties, relating to bad weather last February. Most damage occurred to prune crops there. But any farmer who suffered crop losses of at least 35 percent may apply for aid, usually in the form of low-interest disaster loans.
More California-grown chicken and turkey should be available in supermarkets this year. The California Poultry Federation says the state's chicken production could rise 5 percent, which would match increases of the past two years. The federation says turkey production will also increase slightly. Demand has been good from within California, and a reopening of sales to Mexico has also helped poultry farmers.
As an additional food-safety precaution, the National Chicken Council says producers plan to test every chicken flock in the nation for avian flu before the birds enter the food supply. The severe form of bird flu found in Asia has not been seen in the U.S., and authorities continue to stress that poultry is safe when properly cooked. California growers have already been conducting the additional tests since 2003.Top