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» February 22, 2008 «
Rain predicted through the weekend for California should be mainly good news for farmers and ranchers. Snow expected for the Sierra would add to a snowpack that stands just about average for this time of year. Livestock ranchers welcome the moisture to keep pastures for their animals healthy. The rain could cause problems for any Central Valley almond growers whose orchards have reached full bloom. And farmers hope the storms don't have the high winds such as those that caused damage last month.
With nearly half of their crop now picked, California farmers say they could be on the way to a record harvest of navel oranges. The California Citrus Growers Association reports excellent fruit quality and size. Rain this week will delay harvest until orchards dry, but consumers won't see any drop in availability. The association says farmers have been earning strong prices for oranges, but are still trying to make up for revenue lost during last year's freeze.
Worldwide demand for dairy products will affect retail prices in the U.S. for the foreseeable future, according to market analysts. For example, consumers in China and India use improved income to increase their purchases of dairy products. Despite the higher demand, an economist with the Dairy Institute of California says farmers here are looking cautiously at expanding milk production, in part because of high feed and fuel costs.
Economic growth in other nations receives part of the credit for a predicted record in U.S. agricultural exports. The U.S. Agriculture Department predicted yesterday (Thursday) that farmers would sell $101 billion worth of farm products to foreign customers this year. The USDA says many foreign consumers have seen their incomes rise, and spend more on food as a result. California leads the nation in agricultural exports.Top