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» February 17, 2005 «
A new drive for permanent repeal of the federal estate tax will be launched today (Thursday). A bill to be introduced in the House of Representatives would assure that estate taxes will not resume six years from now. Under current law, the tax would be phased out completely in 2010, but resume in 2011. Farmers and ranchers favor repealing the "death tax" permanently, because the tax hampers efforts to pass family farms from one generation to the next.
Pest fighters declared victory yesterday (Wednesday), in their efforts to eradicate a Southern California fruit fly infestation. The California Department of Food and Agriculture said it has ended an Oriental fruit fly quarantine in Orange County. Authorities began eradication work last July, after more than a dozen of the exotic flies were trapped in Santa Ana. The Oriental fruit fly threatens dozens of California-grown agricultural products.
Farmers will watch Central Valley orchards carefully, to gauge whether rains have affected blossoming trees. Nut and fruit trees have started blooming, and could be affected by prolonged or heavy storms. Farmers report no serious concerns, so far. Rain did halt the navel orange harvest, because the fruit can bruise easily if picked when wet. Marketers said the delay in harvest will not affect orange supplies for consumers.
Americans are drinking more wine, and California wineries also expect increased demand from export customers. But wine-business analysts say those trends won't necessarily lead to higher prices for California wine. For one thing, California wines continue to face significant competition from Australian imports. One study showed that sales of Australian wine rose nearly 30 percent in the U.S. last year.Top