AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

Crop insurance companies have agreed to cut their subsidies by $6-billion over the next 10 years. The U.S.D.A. says four-billion of the savings will go toward reducing the federal deficit, while two-billion will support risk management and conservation programs for farmers

The U.S.D.A. wanted to reduce the subsidies given to crop insurance companies because it says the companies were making excessive profits. Industry groups insisted it's needed to maintain high reserves in case of widespread crop disasters, but they ultimately accepted the deal.

The groups say farmers' premiums won't change.

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A South Valley lawmaker is hoping help from Hollywood will convince the governor to sign the farm worker pay bill.

State Senator Dean Florez recently won approval from the state legislature for his bill which requires overtime pay for farm workers after 8-hours each day and 40-hours per week.

Now, actor Martin Sheen is pressuring Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the legislation. In a handwritten note, sheen told the governor signing the bill would quote "add a moral depth to your legacy."

Sheen has been a longtime advocate for farm workers. He marched with labor leader Ceasar Chavez back in 1965.

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A Lodi area winery is being investigated for violating the Williamson Act.

The Lodi News Sentinel reports, the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation is accusing Viaggio Winery of using its property for non-agricultural uses. The farm bureau says part of the Viaggio property is being used for non-agricultural activities like wedding receptions, fundraisers and corporate functions.

San Joaquin County officials disagree. They say Viaggio complies with the Williamson Act because all structures on the property are used for agriculture. They say wine tasting and marketing events held there are "accessory uses" to having a wine cellar.

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The California Farm Bureau is predicting a bumper crop of almonds.

The government is forecasting a nearly two-billion-pound crop. Some growers may think it's too high, but with an increasing demand for almonds, a crop that size might be needed to satisfy it.

China is buying more California almonds, and announced changes to their system of currency could make California produce more affordable there.

Despite cooler temperatures in late spring and early summer, current warmer temperatures are aiding almond development.

California produces about 80-percent of the world's almond supply.

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