Agriculture briefs

Buyers set a new record at the Sonoma County Fair’s Junior Livestock Auction this year by spending $1.186 million on lambs, hogs and other animals.

Auction revenue increased 8 percent from last year’s total of $1.094 million. The auctions, which benefit local 4-H and FFA members, first surpassed the $1 million mark in 2007 and have done so every year since.

At the auctions, 220 lambs were purchased for an average of $9.19 per pound. Forty-two goats sold for an average of $10.07 per pound.

Seventy-two steers sold for an average of $3.78 per pound and 276 hogs were purchased for an average price of $6.22 per pound.

King honored for contributions to agriculture

Former Petaluma teacher Bill King has been selected for a “Lifetime Contribution to Sonoma County Agriculture” award by the county Harvest Fair.

King taught 3,000 students during his 39 years as a Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor and agriculture teacher at Petaluma High School. In 2007 he was inducted into the California Agricultural Teacher’s Association Hall of Fame, one of only 70 teachers to receive the award since the organization was founded 1918.

A native Petaluman, King learned about agriculture on the family farm that his grandfather purchased in 1905. He graduated from Petaluma High in 1957 and went on to receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree in range management from UC Davis.

King continues to raise beef cattle on his farm.

The 2013 Harvest Fair will be Oct. 4-6 at the county fairgrounds in Santa Rosa.

Emergency loans offered to farmers impacted by drought

North Coast farmers and ranchers became eligible for emergency loans last week after the U.S. Department of Agriculture named a wide swath of Northern California a disaster area due to drought conditions.

The department designated six counties as “primary” disaster areas: Del Norte, Mendocino, Siskiyou, Humboldt, Shasta and Trinity.

But farmers and ranchers in contiguous counties also are eligible for help. That affects those in Sonoma and Lake counties, as well Glenn, Lassen, Plumas, Tehama and Modoc counties.

Producers have up to eight months to apply for low-interest emergency loans. The department’s Farm Services Agency has other assistance programs for eligible farmers harmed by drought.

Interested farmers are encouraged to contact their local USDA Service Center for further information or online to visit http://disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

— Compiled by Robert Digitale. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com

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