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April 2003, Volume 9, Number 2

Food, FVH Crops

US residents spent $440 billion for food at home and $298 for food consumed away from home in 2001, a total of $739 billion or 10 percent of the $7.4 trillion in disposable income. In 1950, consumers spent $36 billion for food at home and $8 billion for food away from home, a total $43 billion or 20 percent of $211 billion in disposable personal income. In 1930, consumers spent $16 billion for food at home and $2 billion for food away from home, a total $18 billion or 24 percent of $75 billion in disposable personal income.

Strawberry acreage is expanding, to a record 28,300 acres in 2003, up from the average 25,000 acres; acreage has doubled since the mid-1980s. Some 11,700 acres are in the Watsonville/Salinas area. About 83 percent of US strawberries are produced in California, and there were about two billion pounds worth $800 million produced in 2002. Yields averaged 32.3 tons an acre in Monterey county in 2002, and prices averaged $0.50 a pound.

The pesticide methyl bromide is used to fumigate land before it is planted with strawberries. The Montreal Protocol, a 1988 climate treaty, bans the use of methyl bromide after 2005 because it reduces the protective ozone layer in the atmosphere that blocks ultraviolet rays.

California growers plan 290,000 acres of processing tomatoes yielding an average 37 tons an acre, for a total of almost 11 million tons.

Table Grapes. California growers produced a record 95 million 19-pound boxes of table grapes in 2002, up from 82 million in 2002. The 600 California growers produce 97 percent of US table grapes.

Celery. California produces 95 percent of US celery worth $250 million in 2001, led by Ventura county. Celery is hand-harvested, and often washed, graded and packed in the field.

Asparagus. California normally produces asparagus from March through May, 100 million pounds in 2002. However, imports from Peru (87 million pounds) and Mexico (58 million pounds) are rising, and California growers complain that they must pay far higher wages. Costs of production are estimated at almost $1 a pound- most asparagus is sold in 28- to 30-pound crates.

US Farm Policy. Some 2,692 US counties, 86 percent of all US counties, were designated federal disaster areas in 2002, which makes farmers eligible for disaster payments. Since 1988, Congress has authorized emergency crop disaster payments almost every year.


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