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» January 4, 2007 «
An update of federal farm policy, plus trade and tax issues, will come before the new Congress that convenes today (Thursday). The current federal Farm Bill expires this year, and renewing it will likely lead to lengthy negotiations on conservation, energy, research and other programs. Farm groups say they will seek estate tax reform and an extension of the law that allows the president to negotiate trade agreements. Immigration reform also remains a high priority for farmers and ranchers.
Shoppers seeking onions may notice shorter supplies and relatively high prices for the next couple of months. The Pacific Northwest typically provides most onions at this time of year, but plant diseases have reduced supplies from that region. Onion supplies could remain tight until March, when crops from Texas and Mexico begin to reach the market. California-grown onions from the Imperial Valley will be ready for harvest in early spring and San Joaquin Valley onions start in June.
Peak season for carrot harvest has arrived in the state's largest growing region. Kern County farmers harvest and ship carrots daily. At the same time, fields are being planted with the spring crop. Spring harvest will continue through about June, when hot temperatures cause production to shift to other locations. California produces more than 60 percent of the nation's carrot crop. Observers say the quality of this year's carrots has been high.
A quarantine has been established at three San Francisco Bay Area racetracks, in response to isolated cases of a horse virus. Horses imported from Germany reportedly brought "equine herpes virus" into California. Authorities say the illness has killed one horse in Southern California and sickened four others in the northern part of the state. The California Horse Racing Board established the quarantine affecting racetracks at Golden Gate Fields, Bay Meadows and in Pleasanton.Top