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» February 12, 2008 «
It might seem surprising, but a forecast for sunny skies won't necessarily translate into higher attendance at the West's largest farm-equipment show. The World Ag Expo opens today (Tuesday) in Tulare. Promoters say sunny weather sometimes encourages farmers to stay home and work, rather than come to the show. No matter what the weather brings, they expect some 100,000 people to attend the three-day event. The expo features exhibitors from 27 countries.
Even though the decline in new home construction has reduced demand for sod, California turf farmers say sales remain strong. Growers say homeowners retain an interest in replacing old lawns. Homeowners who plan to sell continue to replace lawns to make their homes stand out in a sluggish market. There are about a dozen turf farms located throughout California. They produce turf for sports arenas and for business landscaping, as well as for homes.
Seeing wine as an "affordable luxury," American consumers have consistently increased their purchases of higher-priced California wines. A study of the wine business by University of California economists shows a particular impact on sales of what's called "ultra-premium" wines. Those are wines costing more than $14 a bottle. Their share of the wine market has quadrupled since 1995, to 13 percent of the total market.
A program to encourage more veterinarians to work with farm animals has languished, and supporters say that will lead to a worsening shortage of large-animal specialists. A federal program aims to help veterinarians repay their educational loans, if they pledge to work with livestock or other underserved specialties. But the American Veterinary Medical Association describes the program as "dormant." U.S. Agriculture Department officials say the program has been hard to implement.Top