This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
A lot of American farmers have had a rough early winter.
In California, citrus growers are facing hundreds of millions of dollars in
losses from a freeze earlier this month. Oranges and lemons in California's main
growing areas were not the only victims. The arctic cold front known as the
Siberian Express also damaged other fruit and vegetable crops.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger estimated losses at one billion dollars. He
declared an emergency in ten counties to provide state assistance to those
The freeze could mean months without work for thousands of farm laborers,
packing house workers and truck drivers. It will also mean higher food prices
across the country.
Much of the damage happened in the San Joaquin Valley, but it was spread
around the state. Citrus growers in California store their fruit on the tree.
Less than a third of this year's crop had been harvested when the freeze hit.
Avocados, strawberries and blueberries were also hit hard. The strawberries
were nearly ready for harvest, and only about five percent of the avocados had
been picked. Some avocado growers said this was their worst winter in sixteen
years. Spinach, lettuce and other greens were also affected.
California is the nation's top agricultural state, and top grower of fresh
citrus. Florida's big orange crop is used mostly for juice.
Right now, other states are struggling with the effects of snow and ice
storms in recent weeks. In some places, there was six meters of snow on the
Animal losses are still being counted in the Great Plains. The affected
states include Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. Some
states have been approved for emergency federal aid.
Some ranchers still do not know where all their cattle have gone, or how many
are dead. The Colorado Cattlemen's Association estimates that the final count in
that state alone could be eight thousand to fifteen thousand. That would mean a
loss of more than ten million dollars just in cattle.
In some states, National Guard helicopters not only rescued people but also
dropped hay to cattle trapped without food in the snow. Shortages of hay have
pushed up prices, adding to economic losses.
And even cattle that have been saved may not be out of danger. Many cows were
pregnant, and many could lose their calves. Other cattle weakened by the
conditions may not survive the winter.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn
Watson. I'm Faith Lapidus.