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Agriculture briefs

California led the nation in organic crop sales last year, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Golden State reported farm sales of nearly $1.4 billion from 1,898 farms. That amounted to 39 percent of the $3.5 billion in all U.S. farm sales.

California’s organic farms made up 21 percent of the 9,140 certified operations around the country.

Sales for the nation’s organic farms averaged $414,726, compared to $137,807 for both conventional and organic farms.

The biggest crops by revenue were vegetables with $1.1 billion in sales, followed by dairy, $765 million; fruits, $495 million; field crops, $465 million; and chicken eggs, $276 million.

The Organic Trade Association reported last spring that the U.S. retail organic market surpassed $31 billion last year.

Horse Day coming to UC Davis on Saturday

More than 350 horse experts, breeders, equestrians and other enthusiasts are expected to gather Saturday at UC Davis for Horse Day 2012.

The event, a UC Davis tradition for three decades, will include a mustang show, a therapeutic shoeing presentation, draft-horse harnessing and driving, and scoring of horses’ body condition.

The event will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and a welcome assembly in the Main Arena of the university’s Cole Facility on La Rue Road. Participants will then depart to nearby venues for instructional sessions and demonstrations.

Cost for the day will be $40 per person and $15 for each child under age 14. For more information, contact Valerie Ozella in the Department of Animal Science at (530) 752-1250 or vmozella@ucdavis.edu.

California gets $18 million in federal grants for specialty crops

California has received the biggest share of federal grants to enhance the competitiveness of such specialty crops as tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops.

The state received more than $18 million from the $55 million awarded nationwide.

The 68 funded projects in California include developing a quick drying method to cut energy use and improve quality of almonds and pistachios; offering low-income families access to fruits and vegetables at Certified Farmers’ Markets; and researching management strategies to mitigate diseases affecting the citrus industry.

“California agriculture is known for its innovators,” said Karen Ross, the state’s agriculture secretary. “We have identified projects that will take advantage of this tremendous opportunity for our researchers, educators and others in our agricultural community to improve the prospects of California’s specialty crop farmers.”

By Staff Writer Robert Digitale. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com

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