Here's some good nematode news

Nematodes — a threat to dozens of California crops — are nearly invisible. Ten times finer than an eyelash, these microscopic worms with voracious appetites invade the roots of plants, suck out their juices and leave them vulnerable to attack by deadly fungi and bacteria. That's the bad news. Here's the good news: Genetic researchers found a rare strain of sugar beet that resists a half-dozen nematodes and are working to insert its disease-resistant genes into peaches, tomatoes, beans, carrots and potatoes.

Proud hunters who bag their limit usually haul the meat home to feed the family. To get the maximum enjoyment from your wild game, Farm Bureau suggests that you follow food safety procedures when dressing, storing and cooking the meat. Why? Of the cases of human trichinosis reported to the Centers for Disease Control, many were the result of eating bear and other game meats.

California is the second largest cheese-producing state and manufactures one out of every six pounds of cheese produced in the U.S. California cheese production has doubled from 702 million pounds in 1990 to 1.4 billion pounds in 1999 and industry experts have projected California will move into the top cheese producing spot within five years.

Beef is the largest volume item sold in grocery stores. Farm Bureau sources report fresh beef represents 6 percent of all grocery store sales and 53 percent of retail meat, poultry and seafood sales.

Young American farmers are outstanding in their field when it comes to technology. More than 90 percent use computers and 87.4 percent own cell phones, according to Farm Bureau research.

Today's beef is 27 percent leaner than it was 20 years ago. The leanest cuts of beef are those the “loin” or “round” in the name.

How many kernels of wheat in a pound? Anywhere from 14,000 to 17,000.

The percentage of disposable personal income needed for food has declined during the last 25 years. Food Check-Out Day in 1970 would have been 13 days later, Feb. 20. Food is more affordable because of the widening gap between growth in per-capita income and the amount of money spent for food, according to USDA.

They've pledged to install two million miles of conservation buffers by 2002 in an effort to improve soil, air and water quality; enhance wildlife habitat; restore biodiversity; and create scenic landscapes. Who are they: American's farmers, ranchers and rural landowners.

Of all the pesticides sold in California, only one-third, by weight, is used for agricultural purposes.

How much of each $1 spent for food actually reaches the farmers and ranchers who produce the food? Twenty cents — down from 31 cents in 1980. The remaining 80 cents of the grocery dollar are spent for processing, marketing, sales and distribution.

President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation creating the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1862. Georgia established the first state department of agriculture in 1874.

The farm labor and acreage to produce 100 bushels of corn have been dramatically reduced thanks to advances in farm equipment and fertilizer. Back in 1850, it took 2.5 acres and from 75-90 hours of hard work to plow, hand plant, weed and harvest 100 bushels of corn, Today, that same 100 bushels of corn takes only two hours of labor and one acre of land.

There are 275 recognized breeds of cattle in the world; more than 40 breeds are produced in California. California ranks fifth in the United States in total number of cattle with five million head.

Farming has come a long way since the 1930s when only 13 percent of all farms had electricity and only a third had phones. In 1998, California farmers invested $2.4 million in computers to operate irrigation systems. About 40 percent of California farms reported using computers in their business operations in 1999.

It is reported that more than 87 percent of America's farmers own cell phones.

In the 10 years between 1988 and 1998, close to 420,000 acres of California land used for crops and grazing were converted to urban uses.

California has consistently had more female farm operators than the national average. In the years between 1978 and 1997 the number almost doubled. In 1997 13.6 percent of California farms were owned by women, compared with an 8.6 percent national average.

From producers of food and fiber to grocery stores and the food court at shopping malls, agriculture and its related industries generate jobs for more than 22 million people.

Sixty percent of California farmers are between the ages of 44 and 70. There seems to be a trend toward fewer young people choosing farming as an occupation, with only 20 percent of farmers under the age of 44; by 1997 the proportion of California farmers over 70 rose from 13 percent in 1987 to nearly 20 percent.

U.S. athletes depend on the cattle industry. Leather to make sports equipment uses hides from 100,000 cattle each year.

On average, agriculture uses about 43 percent of the state's available water.

Almost half of California farmers don't consider farming their principal occupation and must work off the farm to make ends meet.

Total U.S. agricultural exports in the early 1800s were mainly tobacco, rice, indigo, grain and meat products with an average annual value of about $23 million. In 1998, California led the nation in agricultural exports with more than 50 principal commodities valued at more than $6.6 billion.

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