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» March 9, 2006 «
A strong snowpack doesn't guarantee plentiful water for farmers in the Klamath Basin. Snow levels along the California-Oregon border stand nearly 50 percent above average, but farmers remain uncertain how much water they'll have available this spring. If spring weather suddenly turns warm, the water may soak into the ground ... as it did last year. Legal and regulatory moves involving the region's disputed water supply may also reduce irrigation water.
Cooler than average temperatures in Ventura County could affect next year's avocado crop. Farm experts say avocado trees usually bloom in spring, while the current year's crop is still being picked. This year, mild winter weather encouraged the bloom to start early. But now, with below-average temperatures forecast for the next week, the avocado bloom has slowed. As a result, farmers say they expect the crop to be lighter next year and fruit to mature unevenly.
One item in the proposed federal budget bears particular interest for livestock producers. The government is working to start a nationwide animal identification program, to enhance food safety and security. But farm groups say there's not enough money set aside for the program ... especially to meet the 2009 target date for finishing it. An American Farm Bureau spokeswoman says farmers want to split the cost evenly with the government.
Strong demand for pork and ham has raised the prices that California pork producers earn for their animals. Many families serve ham during Easter celebrations, and the California Pork Producers Association says that seasonal increase in demand may affect prices further. Many California hog farmers sell their animals to regional and specialty markets. The state's farmers do not produce enough to meet demand, so most of the pork consumed here comes from other states.Top