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» April 18, 2007 «
As crews work to define and fight an invasion of the light brown apple moth in the San Francisco Bay Area, farm groups urge the federal government to enhance its border inspections for exotic pests and diseases. A California Farm Bureau spokeswoman says farmers favor bills in Congress to return agricultural inspections to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Those duties now fall under jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.
A new way to fight red imported fire ants intrigues Orange County officials. Federal researchers said yesterday (Tuesday) they want to find partners to license and apply the technique. It involves a new ant bait that uses a natural virus to destroy fire-ant colonies. Orange County Vector Control District inspectors say they are looking at the method to reduce fire ant populations there. The ants sting people and hurt crops. Orange County voters approved a local tax to fight the pest.
Cheaper loans for beginning farmers and ranchers form a key part of an administration proposal to help people start lives in agriculture. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said yesterday that the plan would help young people "overcome the challenges associated with entering production agriculture." One proposal would cut in half the interest rate for beginning farmers participating in a program to aid them in making a down payment on farm or ranch land.
There hasn't been enough rain or snow in the past month to change the situation, so the state's largest supplier of irrigation water says it will maintain its forecast for summertime deliveries. The Central Valley Project says it expects to provide half of contract water supplies to farm customers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Unless above-average precipitation falls in the next month, the project says the allocations won't change this year.Top