AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

South America's "avocado seed moth" is now wreaking havoc in Peru. In January, the U.S. began allowing imports of Peruvian avocados and growers fear it's just a matter of time before the pest arrives in the U.S. and destroys local crops. The U.S.D.A. insists import safety guidelines will protect California's avocados. But scientists say the moth will eventually make its way to the U.S..

California grows 90 percent of the nation's avocados, which are harvested in the San Joaquin Valley and in Southern California.

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A settlement for thousands of black farmers who sued the U.S.D.A. for discrimination remains held up in congress.

As many as 3,000 farmers claimed the U.S.D.A. denied them loans because of their race. The agency admits that discrimination occurred in certain areas. But funding for the $1.25-billion settlement is part of larger legislative package that was filibustered in the senate.

Republicans argued it added too much to the federal debt.

An aide for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, says democratic leaders are planning to move the settlement through congress separately as part of a supplemental appropriations bill.

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The United Farm Workers union has launched a new campaign meant to change people's minds about the role migrants play in our nation's economy. This new effort is about to get national attention but that didn't keep UFW's President Arturo Rodriguez from speaking in Fresno County.

Summer school students at Ben Benavidez Elementary school enjoyed today's visit from Rodriguez. He'll have a bigger audience when he appears on the popular political comedy show the Colbert report later this week. He will be talking about the UFW's "Take Our Jobs" campaign.

Arturo Rodriguez has a plan, "We're offering to anybody in America to come and try to work as a farm worker." Stephen Colbert is expected to take him up on the offer.

For Sanger farmer Manuel Cunha heads the Nisei Farmers' League and says today's debate over legal vs. illegal immigration is a repeat of California circa late 1990's. At that time there was a shortage of farm workers for many of the same reasons, "What the UFW has done is saying U.S. workers or those of you that are citizens or resident aliens and eligible to work: we have jobs."

Tough, back breaking jobs that this farm labor contractor is having trouble filling this season. Leopaldo Garcia a farm labor contractor told us, "This is hard work, to harvest peaches grapes or whatever's in the farm, it's hard." He has had no luck going to state unemployment offices for people willing to take the jobs he has to offer, "I make an order last week and nobody called yet, to to whoever wants to work and they don't call yet."

Finding a permanent legal solution to a now largely illegal immigrant work force is a common goal for the UFW and farmers these days. And many Central Valley farmers like Chuna are hanging their hopes on the current farm bill before congress to insure a means to harvest their crops.

Take Our Jobs
http://www.ufw.org/toj_play/TOJNEW_12_JAL.html

The Colbert Report
http://www.colbertnation.com/home?xrs=sem_col_colbert_report

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