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» August 29, 2006 «
They're worried about invading pests, so California tomato farmers want the federal government to rethink a plan to allow tomato imports from Central America. In a rule published yesterday (Monday), the U.S. Agriculture Department said it will permit tomato imports from six nations ... so long as the farms growing the tomatoes are found to be free of certain pests. The California Tomato Commission says its members worry that the inspections won't adequately protect farms here.
The annual harvest of raisin grapes has started in the San Joaquin Valley. After harvesting the grapes, workers place them on trays between rows so the sun can dry them. Finding enough people to do that job has been a concern. Farmers also hope for warm, dry weather for the next month, to maximize the quality and quantity of their raisin production. California farms produce virtually all of the nation's domestically grown raisins.
Four new counties reported cases of equine West Nile virus during the past week. The California Department of Food and Agriculture says Lake, Mendocino, Modoc and San Luis Obispo counties each reported their first cases of the year. Horses in 14 counties have come down with the disease, and 11 horses have died. But the number of cases remains much lower than in the previous two years.
The renewable fuel known as biodiesel could lead to new options for California farmers. The University of California has formed a work group to examine potential biodiesel production in the state. Biodiesel, derived from vegetable oil, can replace regular diesel fuel. Most current biodiesel is made from Midwestern soybeans. But California farmers might be able to grow more safflower, canola or other crops to be processed into the renewable fuel.Top