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» September 30, 2008 «
Country-of-origin labels become required today (Tuesday) on all fresh produce and meat sold in retail stores. More than half of the produce already is labeled, and the rest will gradually conform. The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to educate retailers for the next six months about the requirements of the new law. Farmers and ranchers are hopeful that the labeling will become a valuable marketing tool. The new law does not cover restaurants and farmers markets.
Growers say almond harvest is going fast. Harvest started later than usual, but since then weather has cooperated and harvest crews are working rapidly. It's too early to tell if the crop will meet predictions. If the weather holds farmers will be out of their fields by November. But forecasts of rain later this week have some growers concerned, as moisture could create fungal disease problems. It is reported as a clean crop because fewer nuts are being rejected for quality problems, the fewest in several years.
Governor Schwarzenegger signed a budget trailer bill that extends the Central Valley Rural Crime Prevention Program until July 2010. He also provided additional funds to operate all border inspection stations on a full-time basis. All vehicles--commercial and private--will be checked for invasive pests, which are a constant threat to California farms and ranches. Pests have been found for the first time in the state in the past month, such as Asian citrus psyllid and false codling moth from Africa.
Consumers will be able to buy processed food like pies and jams from roadside farm stands under a law signed by Governor Schwarzenegger. It provides an exemption to regulations that require special flooring, running water and restrooms, features most seasonal farm stands cannot afford. The law also permits chefs to buy locally grown food from farmers markets, something many have been doing while unaware of rules banning the practice. Farm groups sponsored the legislation.Top