Here are a few headlines and notes that I haven't had time to develop into full-blown posts this week. Enjoy.

Fresh Talk headline digest and notesMarch 29 Agricultural Prices report. The essentials: March fruit and nuts index 5.2% higher than February and 13% higher than a year ago. Veggies up 15% from February but 39% below year ago levels. Potato index up 3.4% from last month but 0.6% below year-ago levels.

This story about E. coli growth potential on fresh cut fruits and vegetables reports that passive modified atmosphere did not affect growth of E. coli O157:H7.  Further, the study found that at 25 °C, E. coli O157:H7 grew on fresh-cut escarole, carrot and melon but not on fresh-cut pineapple, while at  5 °C it did not grow but survived throughout the studied period in all tested commodities.

High profile support can't hurt when federal programs are on the chopping block, and this report by Mark Bittman of the New York Times highlights a 30% funding cut during fiscal 2012  for the Women, Infants and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program.  Bittman writes:

"WIC’s FMNP helps provide under served families across the country with fresh produce, and is not only a critical subsidy for families that might not otherwise have sufficient access to high-quality, nutritious food, but also for the small and mid-scale farmers and farmers markets that operate in low-income communities and rely on WIC’s FMNP dollars as a major source of revenue."

Bittman urges readers to petition Congress to restore funding to the program for fiscal 2013 to the fiscal year 2011 level of $20 million.

This USDA FAS 48-page report examines ag export  opportunities in Russia. Experience tells me that readers will be interested in this comprehensive report. A morsel:

In 2010, consumption of fruit in Russia increased to 71 kg per capita, up 10 percent compared with 2009 (based on the Russian Federation Statistic Committee data) but still significantly lower than consumption levels in European countries, the United States, Japan, and China. For example, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service, the typical American consumes 270 pounds (122.5 kg) of fruit and tree nuts (fresh and processed, fresh-weight basis) each year. As the demand for fruits rises, there will be a concomitant rise in mports; Russia’s fruit market is far from being saturated.


Many more headlines to review....continued tomorrow