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Agriculture briefs

A team affiliated with UC Davis is one of five finalists to join an international competition for investment funds for improving global food security.

The team of three UC Davis employees have developed a small solar-powered LED light that can boost egg production for farmers in developing countries.

Their “Henlight,” when placed in a chicken coop, can boost egg production from 40 to 80 percent during winter days, said team member Edward Silva, a recent UC Davis graduate and a program coordinator in the Graduate School of Management.

The team is taking part in the finals of the international 2013 Thought for Food Challenge Summit.

The five finalists were selected based on their idea's ability to create mass awareness about food insecurity, incite social change, be built to last, and disrupt the status quo. The ultimate winner will be selected based upon the idea's practicality, “scalability” and economic feasibility.

“Henlight will increase the value of the individual chicken by sustaining consistent production during the seasons when there are fewer hours of natural daylight and, ultimately, will improve the state of food availability for smallholder farms,” Silva said.

USDA declares drought disaster in California

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared California a drought disaster area, allowing most farmers and ranchers in the state to apply for low-interest emergency loans.

Agricultural operators in all California counties except for San Francisco can now apply for USDA's Farm Service Agency emergency loans. The maximum loan amount is $500,000.

For more information visit fsa.usda.gov.

California raisin growers propose prices

California's raisin growers are proposing a sliding scale for this year's crop that could pay growers up to $2,000 a ton — potentially a new record.

The proposal from the Fresno-based Raisin Bargaining Association features a sliding scale based on how many raisins are delivered to packers. For example, if total deliveries are more than 350,001 tons, the price to growers will be $1,700 a ton. But if deliveries are less than 300,000 tons, the price will be $2,000.

The central San Joaquin Valley is the center of the nation's raisin industry.

Glen Goto, the association's chief executive officer, said the new approach to pricing is an attempt by the growers to deal with uncertainty over the size of this year's crop.

Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated the crop will be 25 percent larger than the previous year, many in the raisin industry are forecasting a crop that may be only 10 percent to 15 percent larger.

Last year, growers produced 311,000 tons of natural seedless raisins.

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

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