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Heat puts the hurt on U.S. farmers

05 August 2006

CALIFORNIA — The triple-digit heat wave that steamrolled across the country this week killed thousands of cattle and poultry and cooked crops in the field before farmers could pick them. And experts say consumers will help foot the bill.

In California, the nation's No. 1 agriculture and dairy producer, the temperature peaked at more than 115 degrees in late July, killing 16,500 cows. A million chickens and turkeys perished and countless peaches, nectarines, nuts and melons were destroyed. As the heat plowed eastward, farmers in the Plains states and the Midwest also reported dried-out crops and lowered milk production.

"That's the humbling part about agriculture," said A.G. Kawamura, California's secretary of Food and Agriculture. "We're certainly vulnerable to a lot of factors."

Because California produce is shipped worldwide, shoppers in far-flung places will probably help pay for the $1 billion blow the heat wave dealt to the state's $33 billion agriculture industry.

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Source: AzStarNet


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