Food and Farm News - FEBRUARY 26, 2020

Legislation would enhance pest inspections


Efforts to keep agricultural pests and diseases out of California and the U.S. would receive a boost from legislation passed by Congress. The bill provides funding to add more agricultural inspectors and "sniffer dogs" at airports and seaports, to check for produce and animal products that might carry exotic pests. Supporters of the bill say invasive pests and diseases cost the economy and environment alike. President Trump is expected to sign the bill.


UC to document impact of grazing for fire prevention


More frequent and damaging wildfires have heightened the need for updated research on how livestock grazing helps reduce fire hazard, and the University of California Cooperative Extension says it will begin such a study. A UC livestock advisor says grazing is the most widespread practice to lessen grasses and reduce the speed and intensity of fire--but notes that some public land management agencies don't allow grazing.


Mushroom farmers battle rising production costs


Rising business costs have put the squeeze on California mushroom farmers. Growers say higher wages and other costs contribute to a decline in mushroom production. California remains the No. 2 mushroom-producing state, behind Pennsylvania. Farmers grow mushrooms inside, under strict climate control, with a growing cycle that usually takes 11 or 12 week.


Berry powder can delay ice cream from melting


To help keep ice cream from melting too fast, researchers have come up with a new, natural solution: freeze-dried strawberry powder. A scientist at a U.S. Agriculture Department lab in Albany tried powder from several different berries to act as a stabilizer in making ice cream, and determined strawberry powder worked best. The powder could be used to complement other products now being used, though ice cream makers would need to account for the added berry flavor.