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» December 18, 2006 «
Once weather warms in the Imperial Valley, harvest of lettuce and other vegetables will accelerate ... and farmers worry they won't be able to hire enough people to harvest the crops. Farmers say they have had trouble filling their field crews in the early part of the desert vegetable harvest. Long lines at border crossings have reportedly discouraged potential workers from entering Imperial County from Mexico. Cool weather has slowed the harvest and reduced the need for workers, so far.
When the new Congress reconvenes, family farmers and ranchers will renew efforts to reform the federal estate tax. The just-concluded Congress failed to act on a reform plan, but farmers say they remain committed to reform. Farmers say they often must sell land or other assets, to pay estate taxes when a family member dies. That's particularly true in California, because of the state's high land values.
Uncertainty about markets and about diesel fuel prices will contribute to a sizeable drop in sugar beet production next year. The California Beet Growers Association estimates that farmers will cut plantings by about 25 percent. The association says increased sugar imports worry farmers. And because sugar beets are heavy and fuel prices have increased, the cost to truck beets to market has risen, eroding farmers' chance to earn a profit on the crop.
Marketers say the navel orange harvest is moving along smoothly in the Central Valley. The Sunkist Growers cooperative reports good demand on domestic markets and says orange exports are ahead of last year at this time. Although the crop is lighter than last year the individual oranges are bigger in size, which makes them more marketable. California-grown navel oranges will be available into late June or July.Top