Published: Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 4:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 5:37 p.m.
Immigration reform targets farm workers
Sweeping immigration legislation taking shape in the Senate will aim to overhaul the nation’s agriculture worker program and create a steady supply of labor for farmers and growers.
Farm workers already here would get a speedier path to legal status than other immigrants here illegally, and a likely new visa program would make it easier for foreign workers to come to the United States.
At least 50 percent and as much as 70 or 80 percent of the nation’s farm workers are here illegally, according to labor and industry estimates.
Growers say they need a better way to hire labor legally. Labor advocates say workers can be exploited and need better protections and a way to earn permanent residence.
Online certification program for local gardeners
Community gardeners and others who want to sell or donate certain crops can learn about a new online self-certification program sponsored by the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.
Two informational meetings will be held April 16 and May 13 at the Agricultural Commissioner’s office, 133 Aviation Blvd., Suite 110 in Santa Rosa. Each meeting will be 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
The new program was developed in collaboration with the Sonoma County Department of Health Services and the UC Cooperative Extension. It will allow home, school and community gardeners to legally donate or sell raw, unprocessed fruits, nuts, vegetables and herbs.
The program supports county efforts to encourage locally grown foods. For more information, call 565-2029.
Food prices to rise 3 to 4 percent
U.S. retail food prices will rise 3 to 4 percent this year, a pace that is slightly faster than the 10-year average, the American Farm Bureau Federation predicted last week.
First-quarter prices for 16 staples increased 2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the federation’s Marketbasket Survey. The cost of the items totaled $51.54, $1 more than the past quarter but 2 percent lower than a year ago.
Eleven of the 16 items increased in price from the past quarter. Among them, deli ham increased 50 cents to $5.39 per pound; flour, rose 25 cents to $2.62 for a 5-pound bag; and chicken breasts increased 22 cents to $3.32 per pound.
The other items include bagged salad, orange juice, apples, potatoes, ground chuck, bacon, sirloin tip roast, eggs, milk, shredded cheese, bread, toasted oat cereal and vegetable oil.
Eighty-six shoppers in 24 states participated in the March survey.
— Staff and wire reports. Submit items to email@example.com
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