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» June 25, 2008 «
This year's first reported case of equine West Nile Virus has occurred in Riverside County. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, a 15-year-old horse has died of complications from the disease. Last year's first case was reported in February, and officials expect fewer cases this year as more horse owners have had their animals vaccinated. Owners who have not had their animals vaccinated are urged to do so now.
Last week's intense heat disrupted the water plans of Southern California farmers as more water was used than planned in order to keep crops alive. There was little reported damage from the heat, but by using more water, many are concerned that there may not be enough to finish their crops in the fall. Farmers in San Diego and Riverside counties have had their water allocations cut 30 percent from last year, but cooler weather this week may help reduce water needs.
California farmers and ranchers will benefit more from the new farm bill than in previous years. It provides funding for export enhancement programs and will help develop new markets for California produce. It also provides for disaster relief, which may provide relief for farmers and ranchers whose crops were damaged by fire, frost, wind and drought this year. The bill also enables fresh fruits and vegetables to be included in school lunch programs, benefiting both farmers and students.
Hay prices have been running between $225 a ton for fair quality to over $250 a ton for supreme quality, and prices are expected to rise. Many San Joaquin Valley growers have abandoned at least part of their hay fields due to lack of water, resulting in less hay for market. They use what irrigation water they have to nurture a smaller portion of their planted acreage. Sheep and goat producers then graze their animals on the abandoned dry hay fields.Top