Published: Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 11:57 a.m.
Farmers say workers hard to find
Nearly two-thirds of farmers who responded to a California Farm Bureau Federation survey said they were challenged to find enough workers to tend and harvest crops this year.
The online survey included responses from nearly 800 of the federation’s members.
Sixty-one percent of respondents said they experienced worker shortages of varying degrees. To deal with shortages, farmers said they offered higher wages, delayed pruning/harvesting, used mechanization if possible or did not harvest some of their crop.
Federation President Paul Wenger said the survey showed the need for a more-effective program for hiring migrant workers. Without it, he said, agriculture “could see continuing or worsening problems, especially for small or mid-sized farms.”
State tops in winter farmers markets
California leads the nation in the number of winter farmers markets, according to a new report by the USDA.
The Golden State has 284 winter markets, followed by New York with 196 and Florida with 105.
The number of winter markets listed in the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory increased by 52 percent this year to 1,864. To qualify, such markets must operate at least once between November and March.
Winter markets account for about 24 percent of the 7,865 farmers markets listed in the national directory.
“Each winter farmers market offers additional opportunities for farmers to generate income year round,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.
Citrus restrictions to battle pest
State officials will restrict the movement of citrus fruits and trees in parts of California’s Central Valley where a potentially devastating citrus pest was discovered.
The Department of Food and Agriculture said last week the restriction will apply to 5-mile zones around two sites in Tulare County where Asian citrus psyllids were recently found. The county is part of the state’s citrus belt.
Psyllids can carry the huanglongbing bacteria, which is deadly to citrus trees. The disease has not been detected in Tulare County.
Under the restrictions, only citrus fruit that has been commercially cleaned and packed can be transported outside the 5-mile zones. The cleaning process must include the removal of all stems and leaves.
State officials say they are investigating whether the recently discovered psyllids indicate an established breeding population, or whether they were hitchhikers from infested counties in Southern California.
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