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» July 29, 2008 «
It's been a struggle for catfish farmers, as they try to cope with rapidly rising feed bills. Farm-raised catfish eat feed composed of soybean meal and corn, two commodities that have risen steeply in price. California farmers say they've been cutting costs wherever they can. Most of the state's catfish farms sell fish for stocking lakes or sell directly to restaurants and markets. Some larger-scale catfish farms in the South say rising feed costs will force them out of business.
Along the Central Coast, a dozen winegrape farmers aim to be among the first to have their vineyards certified as being sustainably farmed. The Central Coast Vineyard Team announced yesterday (Monday) that it has launched a program that independently certifies farms. To earn the sustainability certification, a vineyard must meet standards on a variety of factors, including air quality, water quality and conservation, and use of reduced-risk practices.
Consumers in the United States and Japan both benefited from larger supplies of California-grown cherries this spring. A preliminary report from the California Cherry Advisory Board says the state's farmers shipped more cherries this year than any year in the past decade. The volume of cherry shipments rose 20 percent compared to a year ago and exports to the state's main foreign customer, Japan, increased nearly as fast.
A longtime agricultural leader and former California Farm Bureau president will be honored as the state's 2008 Agriculturalist of the Year. Bill Pauli will receive the award from the California Exposition and State Fair next week. Pauli, a grape grower and winemaker from Mendocino County, served the maximum four terms as California Farm Bureau president before leaving office in 2005. The Agriculturalist of the Year award honors outstanding leadership.Top