Food & Farm News
» May 22, 2006 «
As the U.S. Senate works to finalize an immigration-reform bill, California farm groups say prospects remain good for a comprehensive bill that includes both enhanced border security and an improved guestworker program. During the past week, the Senate acted on several amendments to the immigration package, while keeping an agricultural guestworker program intact. Senate leaders say they plan to complete the immigration bill this week.
The number of workers on California farms this spring is sharply lower, compared to a year ago. The U.S. Agriculture Department surveyed farmers in mid-April and reported on the numbers Friday. The report shows the number of hired workers on California farms down more than 20 percent from the previous spring. Analysts attribute the drop to unseasonable spring weather, which slowed fieldwork, and to what the report called ongoing worker shortages.–
Vegetable farmers in California may face additional competition for East Coast customers, as a result of high fuel prices. Farmers in the East and Midwest say fuel costs give them an advantage in competing with California vegetables. A farmer in Virginia says it now costs $5,000 to ship a load of spinach from California to the East Coast, whereas he can ship a load for only $1,000. He says he's planning to expand his spinach acreage.
Americans will eat slightly more red meat and poultry next year, according to a government estimate. Forecasters say meat and poultry consumption will reach about 225.5 pounds per person in 2007. As a result, farmers will slow the rate at which they expand production. The report forecasts that total meat and poultry production will increase about 2 percent next year.Top