AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released the final draft of a new crop insurance plan. It's expected to save the federal government about $6-billion over 10-years.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says $4-billion of the savings will go toward deficit reduction. $2-billion will be used to expand farm risk management programs and the conservation reserve program, which pays landowners to take environmentally sensitive land out of production.

The U.S.D.A. had argued that crop insurance companies were making excessive profits. The industry's return last year was 26.4 percent.

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Wine grape growers report their crop is behind schedule.

In the Central Valley, wine grapes are two weeks late while the north coast crop is as much as a month late. Farmers say recent warm temperatures should help the crop catch up.

Some eastside San Joaquin Valley vineyards were hit with hail and frost damage during spring storms. But farmers say that shouldn't affect overall production. Farmers expect average to slightly less than average production this season.

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The recession and drought has affected California gardening businesses.

The California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers says revenues declined nearly 18-percent last year. The revenue decline also resulted in a loss of more than 25,000 jobs.

California leads the nation in the value of nursery and floral crop production.

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Researchers in Minnesota will soon produce fertilizer from the wind.

Work is beginning on a nearly $4-million project that uses wind power from a towering turbine to produce anhydrous ammonia, a common nitrogen-based fertilizer. The fertilizer produced at the test plant at the University of Minnesota in Morris will be used on the university's farm land.

The system creates fertilizer by using an air separation unit to pull nitrogen from the air, while the turbine powers a machine that separates water into hydrogen and oxygen. The nitrogen and hydrogen are then synthesized into anhydrous ammonia.

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