Ag Report - Tues Feb 8, 2011

FRESNO, Calif.

Tomato farmers are gearing up for the upcoming season.

Farmers who grow "processing tomatoes" used in products such as ketchup, salsa and soup are carefully considering their planting options. Farmers say water availability, production costs and prices for other crops will all factor into their plans.

A U.S.D.A. crop report shows tomato processors will ask farmers to grow about the same number of tomatoes as last year.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture says $15-million is available to asparagus producers to compensate them for losses related to imports during the 2004-2007 growing seasons. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says an increase in asparagus imports led to lower U.S. production and market share.

Top asparagus producing states include California, Washington and Michigan.

The Michigan Farm Bureau says unfair trade practices related to imports from Peru have damaged the U.S. asparagus industry.

The relief money was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. Applications for the "Asparagus Revenue Market Loss Assistance Payment Program" will be accepted starting Monday through April 8th. The Commodity Credit Corporation will provide $7.5-million in payments for asparagus marketed as fresh and another $7.5-million for processed asparagus.

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