Agriculture briefs: Farmer's Almanac says it will be a dry, cool winter

The Old Farmer's Almanac is predicting a mild winter for California with less than normal precipitation. The publication uses several tables in developing its forecasts, including the solar cycle. Running against current forecasts, the almanac says we are entering a colder than average period. The sun is now in a cycle with fewer solar flares than average, which will cause the Earth to cool.

Farm safety is top-of-mind this week

"Better safe than sorry." That's good advice no matter where you live, but this week the focus is on farms and ranches. Monday is the first day of National Farm Safety and Health Week, dedicated to the well-being of America's farmers and ranchers. This year's event marks the 65th consecutive signing of a proclamation by a U.S. president, beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944.

The best test at school is a taste test

Children will eat fruits and vegetables at school, if the school gives them a push. That's according to studies conducted at the University of Maryland. Researchers found that repeated exposure to fruits and vegetables -- through taste testing -- improved the kids' eating habits. Although fruits and vegetables are key contributors to children's good health, consumption tends to decrease from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Feds indict farmer, daughter in Marysville

A once-prominent Live Oak prune farmer and his daughter were indicted Thursday on conspiracy and fraud charges after she was allegedly used as a "straw buyer" to purchase property and allow her father, who had declared bankruptcy, to refinance the property and draw equity from it.

The 13-count indictment in U.S. District Court in Sacramento contends Gavrilo Spaich made a $165,000 gift to his daughter, Jeanne Spaich, of Marina Del Rey so she could buy the Mission Viejo property in Orange County.

The indictment charges Spaich and his daughter with conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and other counts.

Gavrilo Spaich for many years was one of the principals of Spaich Brothers Inc., a prune grower in Live Oak. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001. Three years later, Spaich filed for bankruptcy protection.

The indictment centers on financial transactions in 2005 involving the Mission Viejo home Spaich bought in April 1996.