High gas, diesel prices hurt Calif. farm industry

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FRESNO, Calif. (AP) – Farmers in California’s Central Valley say record high gas and diesel prices are putting pressure on their bottom lines. But economists say it’s unlikely that will translate into significantly higher food prices in the U.S.

The rise in gas prices has slowed, but the price Tuesday was still a state record and the highest in the nation. Regular gas in the state averaged a little over $4.67 a gallon. The price for diesel averaged $4.38 per gallon as of last week.

Farmers say they’re spending more to refuel farm equipment and have to pay fuel surcharges to people mechanically harvesting or transporting their produce.

California’s Central Valley produces much of the nation’s fruit, vegetables, nuts and dairy products. But economists say customers shouldn’t expect food prices to rise more than a few pennies on the dollar, because fuel is only a small percentage of the cost of farming.

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