Food and Farm News - March 11, 2020

Study predicts significant impact from water shortages


Water shortages could cause 1 million acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland to be idled and cost as many as 85,000 jobs, according to an analysis by University of California economists. The report considered the impact of potential groundwater and surface water restrictions resulting from laws and regulations. The group Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley commissioned the study and said a second report will discuss ways to reduce the impacts.  


Vineyard removal addresses grape surplus


More vineyards will be removed in California this year, as farmers and wineries work to correct an imbalance in supply and demand. Wine-business analysts say some grapes went unharvested last year, as wineries sought to reduce their inventories. The 2020 grape crop has just begun to develop, with vines pushing out buds. That means farmers will be monitoring for frost that might damage the emerging crop.  


Federal funds help fight plant pests, diseases


To protect California-grown crops, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated $12.7 million to plant-health and pest-fighting projects. More than a third of the money will go toward surveys for exotic fruit flies that could damage crops. Other grants will support "detector dog" teams that search for harmful pests in packages at mail and parcel delivery facilities, plus additional projects to fight pests and plant diseases.


Research focuses on pistachios' healthy properties


Two recent studies point to health benefits derived from pistachios. The American Pistachio Growers organization announced new studies showing roasted pistachios meet the definition of a "complete protein" that provides all essential amino acids. That makes roasted pistachios one of the few plant-based sources of complete protein. A separate study indicated pistachio extract could be used to fight a variety of bacterial or viral infections.