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Ag Update: Meatpacker Shut Down / More California Corn / Letuce Recall / More

California Farmers Plant 20% More Corn
USDA says California’s 2012 corn for grain production forecast is 958 thousand tons, 23 percent above 2011.With the Midwest drought the state’s farmers are expected to reap record prices with the harvest to come this fall.
The harvested acreage is expected to total 180 thousand acres, 20 percent above a year earlier. The forecast yields, at 5.32 tons per acre, are 3 percent above a year earlier.
The U.S. corn for grain production is forecast at 302 million tons, 13 percent below 2011. Widespread drought and extreme temperatures during June and July have had an adverse effect on the 2012 corn crop. Based on conditions as of August 1, yields are expected to average 3.45 tons per acre, down 16 percent from last year. If realized, this will be the lowest average yield since 1995. Growers expect to harvest 87.4 million acres of corn for grain, down 2 percent from the June forecast, but up 4 percent from last year.

Recall Of Romaine Lettuce

Salinas-based Tanimura & Antle Inc. has voluntarily recalled a single lot of romaine lettuce because it may be contaminated with Escherichia coli O157:H7 bacteria (E. Coli O157:H7).
The affected product is limited to Tanimura & Antle Field Fresh Wrapped Single Head Romaine. This product is packed in a plastic bag with the UPC number 0-27918-20314-9 and may have a Best Buy date of “08 19 12″. The product was available at retail locations Aug. 2 – Aug. 19, 2012. A total of 2,095 cases of potentially affected product were distributed throughout the US and Canada starting on August 2.

Feds Close Hanford Calif. Slaughterhouse After Abuse Video

The AP reports that” Federal regulators have shut down a Central California slaughterhouse after receiving undercover video showing dairy cows – some unable to walk – being repeatedly shocked and shot before being slaughtered.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects meat facilities, suspended operations Monday at Central Valley Meat Co. in Hanford, Calif., which slaughters cows when they lose their value as milk producers.
The USDA received hours of videotape Friday from Compassion Over Killing, an animal welfare group, which said its undercover investigator was employed by the slaughterhouse and made the video over a two-week period in June.
“USDA considers inhumane treatment of animals at slaughter facilities to be unacceptable and is conducting a thorough investigation into these allegations,” said Justin DeJong, spokesman for the Food Safety Inspection Service.”
On Wednesday Aug 22 it was reported that USDA believes there was no tainted meat from ‘downer animals” that entered the food supply. The meat packer supplies the USDA school lunch program. In another development, the fast food chain InN’Out said they would withdraw a contract with Central Valley Meat to supply them.
Local ag officials said the company appeared to be assumed guilty before the investigation was complete.But USDA said the video showed a full investigation was warranted before the plant is allowed to use their stamp of approval.
One ag official allowed that no one condones mistreatment of animals  but notes that the group that shot the video is committed to convince consumers to stop eating meat.
The issue was further clouded by the fact that two USDA inspectors were stationed at the plant who did not report the mistreatment.
Animal care expert, Dave Daley, PhD, Associate Dean for the College of Agriculture at California State University and an active member of the cattle community issued the following statement.
“The vast majority of cattlemen stand firm in adhering to the absolute best animal care and handling guidelines established by veterinarians and other experts. We do not condone any mishandling of livestock on the farm or ranch or in the packing facility. In fact, we firmly believe that those knowingly and willfully committing any abuse to animals should not be in the business – period. The actions depicted in these videos are disgraceful and not representative of the cattle community.”
The closure of the packing plant further complicates the life of stressed out dairymen who have been forced to cull their cows in increasing numbers due to high feed prices. “Dairy operators who cant afford to feed their animals are being put in a tough position” say Kings ag commissioner Tim Niswander. ”Maybe they need to let them out to pasture.” He says slaughterhouses bid at auction on lots of cows and since Central Valley Meat is not bidding now – that lowers the price of cows sold at the auction.The Kings County closure leaves only one packer in Fresno open nearby in the heart of dairy country- home to 1.6 million cows.

UC’s First Center Pivot Irrigation System
In a clear sign of changing times in California agriculture, the University of California dedicates its first full-sized center pivot overhead irrigation system at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center during the Twilight Conservation Agriculture field day at 4 p.m. on Sept. 13. The center is at 17353 W. Oakland Avenue in Five Points.
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Overhead irrigation systems, such as center pivot systems, are the most prevalent form of irrigation nationwide; however, they have not been widely adopted in California to date. Recent technological advances in overhead irrigation – which allows integration of irrigation with global positioning systems (GPS) and management of vast acreage from a computer or smart phone – have boosted farmers’ interest in converting from gravity-fed surface irrigation systems, which are still used on 5 million acres of California farmland.
“We see tremendous possibilities for overhead irrigation in cotton, alfalfa, corn, onions and wheat production,” said Jeff Mitchell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis. “There is also great potential for overhead irrigation in California’s $5 billion dairy industry for more efficiently producing feed crops like alfalfa, corn and sorghum.”
The new system at the West Side Research and Extension Center, valued at about $100,000, was donated by Reinke Manufacturing of Hastings, Neb. Reinke will also sponsor the installation of its OnTrac irrigation monitoring system, which will give farmers and the public a real-time, online window of observation on crops growing and being irrigated by the new center pivot.
To begin with, the center pivot will irrigate an 8-acre half-circle of alfalfa and an 8-acre half-circle of cotton. All aspects of production – including irrigation system performance, weed control, fertilization, soil salinity and economic viability – will be monitored by a diverse team of researchers from UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno State University and UC Davis, plus farmer cooperators and industry members.

Crop Updates: Wine Grape Crop Up 9%
Apples – California’s 2012 apple production is forecast at 140
thousand tons, unchanged from the 2011 crop.
Grapes – The California 2012 all grape forecast is 6.60 million
tons, down slightly from last year’s crop. California’s wine-type
grape production is forecast at 3.70 million tons, and
represents 56 percent of California’s total grape crop. It is up 9
percent from the 2011 crop. California’s raisin-type grape
production is forecast at 1.90 million tons, 29 percent of
California’s total grape crop. The raisin-type grape forecast is
down 13 percent from last year. California’s table-type grape
production is forecast at 1.00 million tons, down 3 percent from
the previous year. California vineyards saw warm and dry
growing conditions this spring. Mildew and European
Grapevine Moth pressure have been low this year. Bunch
counts for the Thompson grape variety were down significantly
from 2011.
Pears – The 2012 California Bartlett pear crop forecast is 170
thousand tons, down 13 percent from the 2011 crop. Bartlett
harvest began in the Sacramento Valley by mid-July. Quality
and sizing were reported to be good with no unusual pest or
disease pressure reported. The forecast for other pear types is
50.0 thousand tons, down 12 percent from the 2011 crop.

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