FRESNO, Calif. — Farmers in California’s Central Valley said record high gas and diesel prices are putting pressure on their bottom lines.

But economists said 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.

Feds seek new review of cigarette warnings

RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. government is asking a federal appeals court to rehear a challenge to the requirement that tobacco companies put large graphic health warnings on cigarette packages.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington in August affirmed a lower court ruling blocking the Food and Drug Administration requirement.

The Justice Department filed a petition Tuesday asking for the full court to rehear the case. The court rarely grants such appeals.

Some of the nation’s largest tobacco companies sued to block the mandate to include warnings to show the dangers of smoking and encourage smokers to quit lighting up.

They argued that the proposed warnings went beyond factual information into anti-smoking advocacy. The government argued the photos of dead and diseased smokers are factual.

N.Y.’s Schumer wants tax hikes on wealthy

WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat is pushing to raise taxes on the wealthy while preserving many tax breaks benefiting the middle class in a challenge to a traditional tax reform model that lowers tax rates for all and finances the cuts through a broad assault on tax breaks and loopholes.

New York Democrat Charles Schumer says any money from curbing tax breaks should go to reducing the deficit. He also says the top tax rate should go back to Clinton-era levels.

Schumer says proposals by Mitt Romney and others to cut tax rates across the board would inevitably end up boosting taxes on the middle class because policymakers would have to slash deductions and credits that benefit the middle class, like breaks for mortgage interest and college savings.

Compiled from wire reports

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