Food & Farm News
» February 22, 2005 «
Consumer beef prices will likely ease a bit this year, but a government report says strong demand will keep prices at near-record levels. Retail prices for choice-grade beef averaged a record $4.07 a pound last year. The U.S. Agriculture Department predicts average prices will drop about 5 percent, as beef supplies increase. The Cattlemen's Beef Board says consumer demand has risen 25 percent since 1998.
Grape growers could certify their crops as meeting "sustainable" farming standards, under a new program to be described to Lodi-area farmers today (Tuesday). The Lodi-Woodbridge Winegrape Commission plans to retain an independent auditor, to certify that participating farmers grow grapes while following guidelines for environmental stewardship. The program, which is still being developed, could be launched later this year.
With the expectation that water supplies will be tight, federal officials have asked more Klamath Basin farmers to leave their land idle this summer. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reopened applications for a water-banking program, which reimburses farmers for fallowing farmland to save water for protected fish. The new application deadline comes this Thursday. A dry winter has raised concerns about water supplies in the region along the California-Oregon border.
Observers say that overcoming transportation problems would help more low-income women buy fresh, locally grown produce. The federal food-aid program for women, infants and children provides recipients with certificates, which they can redeem at farmers' markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Operators of California farmers' markets say just more than half of the certificates are actually redeemed, in part because women often have trouble getting to the markets.Top