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Agriculture briefs

California is in the midst of a historic rise in farmland values, driven largely by strong crop prices and increased plantings of tree nuts and winegrapes, according to a new report by the California chapter of the American Society of Farmland Managers and Rural Appraisers.

The report notes land values have reached record levels and “seldom has there been a time when so many people are so bullish about what lies ahead.”

The market value of California agricultural commodities was $42.6 billion in 2012, according to the Census of Agriculture, 26 percent more than the $33.9 billion value in 2007.

Since 2008, California farms have added 270,000 acres of almonds, walnuts, pistachios and winegrapes.

Total acreage for the four crops stands at nearly 2 million acres.

Basic food costs up 3.5 percent

The cost of 16 basic food items last month rose 3.5 percent from a year ago, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s latest Marketbasket Survey.

The March survey reported that the cost of the items increased $1.73 to $53.27.

“Several typical breakfast items increased in price, accounting for much of the modest increase,” said John Anderson, the federation’s deputy chief economist.

The price of bacon jumped 12 percent to $4.80 per pound; ground chuck rose 10 percent to $4.10 per pound; and white bread increased 10 percent to $1.81 for a 20-ounce loaf.

Prices also rose for sirloin tip roast, up 9 percent to $5.03 per pound; eggs, up 8 percent to $1.98 per dozen; whole milk, up 6 percent to $3.68 per gallon; and chicken breasts, up 6 percent to $3.51 per pound.

Eighty-nine shoppers in 27 states participated in the latest survey.

Shone Farm showcase

Art projects for children and wine tasting for adults will take place Saturday at the Spring Farm Visit at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm near Forestville.

The 365-acre farm will feature a children’s activity area with farm displays, hula hoops and bubbles. Adults can taste Shone Farm olive oil and wines, including the 2010 Shone Farm syrah, which won a gold medal in this year’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The farm features vineyards, orchards, cropland and pastures for horses, cattle and sheep. The land provides hands-on experience for the college’s agriculture students.

Saturday’s event will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the farm, 7450 Steve Olson Lane. The farm is a few minutes north of River Road.

(Staff and wire reports. Submit items to robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com)

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