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Agriculture briefs

Two young women from Petaluma each have received $1,500 as the top farm exhibitors at this year’s Sonoma County Fair.

Francesca Gambonini and Regina Pozzi, both 18, were selected for the Farm Bureau Foundation of Sonoma County’s $1,500 Gold Cup Awards.

They were chosen based on leadership, citizenship, project work, academic achievement and overall performance at the fair.

Gambonini, the daughter of Petaluma dairy farmers Frank and Stacey Gambonini, is a member of the Petaluma FFA and the Sonoma Valley 4-H Club. She showed dairy and beef cattle at the fair.

This fall she will attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to study dairy science with a goal of becoming a dairy cattle geneticist.

Pozzi, the daughter of ranchers Martin and Sally Pozzi, is a member of the Petaluma FFA and Wilson 4-H Club. She showed dairy and beef cattle and sheep.

Pozzi will attend UC Berkeley to study plant genetics with a goal of working in public policy for agriculture.

Search continues for cause of food illness outbreak

An outbreak around the country of more than 600 cases of severe stomach illnesses remains a mystery as the FDA says it found no food safety violations at a Mexican farm linked to some of the illnesses.

The FDA said last week that Taylor Farms de Mexico could resume operations after investigators found conditions there “in accordance with known food safety protocols.” The firm shut down voluntarily earlier this month after its salad mix served at Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants was linked to 242 cyclospora infections in Nebraska and Iowa.

Similar illnesses in 20 other states were never definitively linked to the farm, and officials say they do not know why the number of illnesses is still growing in some other states, including Texas, which has seen more than 280 sickened.

Cyclospora is usually found outside the United States and is caused by parasites that are spread when people ingest contaminated food or water. People who are exposed usually become sick after about a week and have diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms that can last from a few days to several months if not treated with antibiotics.

California table grape shipments on pace to break record

California table grape growers are on a record-setting pace, says Kathleen Nave, president of the Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission.

More than 28 million boxes of California table grapes have been shipped through Aug. 23, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The year-to-date total is 3 percent ahead of the pace for last year’s record-high crop.

The season total volume last year surpassed the equivalent of 100 million 19-pound boxes for the first time in the industry’s history.

Staff and wire reports. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com

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