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Texas Agriculture Archive

May 7, 2004

Are tourists the next cash crop?
Tourists are a cash crop for enough farmers and ranchers around the country now that a new Web site ( has opened for business. If you think you have the setting and hospitality skills, you might want to check it out.
Source: Doane's Agricultural Report; Vol. 67, No. 16-1; April 16, 2004

Sunkist to label fruit with USA stickers
Taking steps to head off mandatory federal country-of-origin labeling, Sunkist Growers Inc. plans to voluntarily put "USA" stickers on its individually sold fruits. As early as this summer, the 100-year-old California cooperative will begin adding the new labels.

Sunkist, a supporter of voluntary labeling, has long put such information on its packing boxes and bagged fruit. The cooperative said it wants to show Washington that a voluntary program, unlike proposals for mandatory labeling, isn't burdensome to growers and others in the industry.
Source: AFBF Executive Newswatch; April 9, 2004

Almonds top U.S. horticultural exports
Total U.S. shipments of horticultural products in fiscal year (FY) 2003 (October 2002–September 2003) were valued at $11.9 billion, up 7 percent from FY 2002. Canada continues to be the top market with combined sales of $3.8 billion, followed by the EU, Japan, and Mexico.

Almonds continue to lead U.S. horticultural exports, followed by wine, table grapes, fresh apples, and frozen potato fries. Expansion of the international fast-food industry, high product quality, rising incomes, tariff reductions, and ongoing Market Access Program activities should continue to drive demand for U.S. horticultural products.
Source: USDA; FAS Quarterly Reference Guide to World Horticultural Trade; January 2004

USDA to pay third of animal ID cost
According to wire reports, the Agriculture Department will pay only about one-third of the $550 million in funding needed to develop and implement a national animal identification system over the next five years. USDA's chief economist said the agency is close to garnering approval from the White House to use emergency funding in order to launch the ID program this year.

USDA said it expected to be partner in sharing the cost of the national ID program with state governments and the livestock industry.
Source: AFBF Executive Newswatch, April 20, 2004

Rustlers cash in on high beef prices
Cattle rustling is alive and well in some parts of the western United States, fueled partly by the rising demand for beef from high-protein dieters.

Thieves are boldly snatching young calves from roadside pastures, then raising them to about 450 pounds and reaping several hundred dollars in pure profit.

In 2003, about 350 cattle worth more than $200,000 were stolen across California's San Joaquin Valley, and about 70 have been rustled so far in 2004.

Some ranchers are fighting back by installing security systems and cameras on their operations.
Source: AFBF; Executive Newswatch; April 12, 2004

Brazil ag infrastructure sees big expansion
Bunge Ltd. will invest $1.3 billion in port expansion, processing, fertilizer plants, and other infrastructure in Brazil. It says the world will need another 200 million tons of corn and soybeans between 2004 and 2010 and estimates 60 million of those will come from Brazil.
Source: Doane's Agricultural Report; Vol. 67, No. 17-1; April 23, 2004

Research team turns pig manure into oil
A research team at the University of Illinois is experimenting with different methods of turning pig manure into crude oil that could be refined and used for heating homes or generating electricity. According to wire reports, the research is still in the early stages and it could be years before a commercial application sees the light of day.

Researchers have used intense heat and pressure in the lab to change the molecular structure of manure into oil in the lab. A similar process is currently used at a plant in Missouri, where turkey entrails, feathers, fat and grease are made into light crude oil. Source: AFBF Executive Newswatch; April 13, 2004

Harsher cockfighting penalty urged by NCC
The National Chicken Council (NCC) has asked Congress to increase the jail time for cockfighting to two years, double the current sentence of one year.

Although cockfighting is illegal in all but two U.S. states—Louisiana and New Mexico—underground fights take place in numerous states and could result in the spread of bird flu to commercial flocks, representatives of the trade group said.
Source: AFBF; Executive Newswatch; April 6, 2004

Tractor sales are still on fire
Last year was tremendous for tractor sales and 2004 is running even stronger.

Small tractors were the driver last year, but this year it's the bigger ones. Sales of tractors 100 hp or more were up 11.5 percent this March over March 2003, and year-to-date sales are up 38.5 percent.
Source: Doane's Agricultural Report; Vol. 67, No. 17-1; April 23, 2004