9-3 AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

Federal agriculture inspectors at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have found a destructive pest that's never been seen before in the United States.

Customs officials say it's a variety of leafhopper. The pest can cause severe damage to grapes, potatoes, soybeans and corn.

It was found late last month in a shipment of pineapples from Costa Rica.

Federal regulators will decide by the end of the year whether to allow some farmers to plant bio-tech sugar beets for the next two seasons.

Capitol Press reports, the U.S.D.A. is considering a partial deregulation of the crop. It's conducting an environmental analysis before making a decision.

There will be some restrictions. The seeds cannot be planted in California or in 19 counties in Washington. In Oregon, there will be a four-mile buffer zones between the bio-tech beets and crops that could be cross-pollinated.

Baby carrot farmers are launching a campaign that pits the little, orange, crunchy snacks as daring, fun and naughty -- just like junk food.

A group of 50 producers hopes the 'eat 'em like junk food' effort starting next week will double the one-billion dollar market in two or three years. The plan begins in Cincinnati and Syracuse, N.Y., and will take at least a year to go national.

Television ads depict futuristic scientists studying crunch, and carrot sports featuring a trip over a mountain in a grocery cart. There are also carrot vending machines.

Baby carrots will be packaged similar to potato chip bags. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One of life's little indulgences could come with a higher price tag. The rising price of cocoa is driving up the price of chocolate

Some bakeries are already feeling the pinch. The price of cocoa went up 60-percent and the delivery time for cocoa went from a three-day wait to a three-month wait.

Cocoa is a commodity. Economists say some speculators have been buying it up, and storing it, keeping it off the market and waiting for the prices to really go high and basically dumping it back in and making a huge profit.

Some bakers say if the prices continue to climb, they might as well be sprinkling gold dust not cocoa powder into their favorite recipes.

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