The objective of Friday Notes is to enhance communication among various agricultural sectors, educators, students, and the public who are interested in a variety of plant, animal, food, and environmental issues. Friday Notes advocates the pursuit of credible, unbiased, science-based information. Material contained in linked articles is from the original authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the CAST organization.
Humans, animals, plants--the world needs water, and as the old saying goes, "They ain't makin' no more of it." We need to take care of what we have. These are a few of the many water-related items that flow through the media each week:
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that $33 million in assistance will be provided to farmers and ranchers to make conservation improvements that will increase water quality in 174 watersheds.
In this CAST Task Force Report, scientists provide recommendations to help better understand all aspects of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.
News and Views
** Homegrown By Heroes: The Farmer Veteran Coalition announced the national launch of the Homegrown By Heroes initiative. The product labeling program will allow farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and the like from all 50 states and U.S. territories who have served or are still serving in any branch of the U.S. military to use the logo on their food and farm products.
** GMO Opinion:This University of Florida researcher is skeptical about some GMO proponents' claims and he is cautious about extensive biotech use, but after 30 years of studying them he says theirbenefits outweigh their limitations.
** Farm Economy: Farmland values fell in the first quarter across much of the Midwest--the latest sign of a downturn in the market after a long boom driven by rising commodity prices, according to new Federal Reserve reports.
News from the Far Side of the Barn
Darth Vadar's favorite plant.
Nature's Impostors: Take a look at these plants and flowers that, whether for survival or just through sheer imagination, resemble animals.
Ag Harmony: The Farmers Only dating site now boasts 1.5 million members--one of the more successful niche dating sites that have cropped up in the last few years.
Communication Is the Word
Alison Van Eenennaam a popular addition to impressive list of BCCA recipients
By its nature and mission, the Borlaug CAST Communication Award obviously focuses on the importance of communication in the ag world. The 2014 recipient, Alison Van Eenennaam, is known for her research and academic skills, but she is also a highly regarded communicator. Through papers, speeches, interviews, online videos, and other means, she spreads scientifically sound information about the food we eat.
Dr. Van Eenennaam's selection also spurred another type of communication. Since the announcement on May 1 at the World Bank, the responses have been positive and sincere. The story was covered by many online and print sources, while social media did its share of buzzing about the event. But the most noteworthy communication has come from the many messages sent to CAST and to Van Eenennaam. From USDA officials to university administrators in the United States, from science organizations to academic institutions overseas, congratulations came in for a "terrific choice." As one message said, Van Eenennaam has a "commitment to developing educational and public communications materials focused on increasing public awareness and understanding of animal and agricultural sciences." Another comment aptly summed up the general tone, calling her "a gem for agriculture."
An award presentation for Dr. Van Eenennaam will occur at a breakfast side event cohosted by DuPont and CAST at the World Food Prize Symposium on October 15, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Spreading Influence of the Borlaug CAST Communication Award
The 2013 BCCA winner, Jeff Simmons (top left), comes from a corporate background, and he is able to use his platforms to work on global challenges, especially food security issues. He juggles company duties withvisits to farms, presentations at conferences, and an active social media presence that focuses on his "Enough" program--part of the effort to end world hunger.
Click here to read about Simmons and the previous three BCCA winners--all impressive ambassadors for agriculture. Carl Winter (top right) of UC-Davis continues his research and academic work while also using his music and performance talents to promote food knowledge and safety. Catherine Bertini (bottom left) works with education and food programs on a global front. And Akin Adesina (bottom right), the Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, promotes Africa's "Green Revolution" and is now working to help with the troubled conditions in his home country.
The Borlaug CAST Communication Award honors the legacies of Nobel Prize winner Dr. Norman Borlaug and Dr. Charles A. Black, the first president of CAST. With the past five award recipients, these legacies are certainly in good hands.
Friday Notes News Categories
Photos courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service (top masthead); TopLatest News (globe at right). P.1 Plant pic from sunnyscope.com. Animal Sec. dog pic from pbs.twimg.com. Plant Sec. coffee pic from precisionnutrition.com. Gen. Sec. map from s.wsj.net. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
Recap of 2014 Summit: The Animal Ag Alliance Summit tackled food trends, cracking the millennial code, and other issues. The Pig! Who Would Have Guessed? USDA researchers have conducted a series of studies showing that the pig is instrumental as a model for human obesity-related research.
Food Villain (video opinion): The food industry is unfairly branded as a "stock villain" in the media, resulting in food science and technology being feared and misunderstood by consumers.
Food Survey: Taste and price have been top factors affecting consumers' food and beverage purchases, but concerns about "healthfulness" are on the rise, according to the International Food Information Council.
Chinese 3-D Printer Helps Build Houses (video):Using a mixture of construction waste and concrete for printing material, this "printer" can help build a one-room house for less than $5,000.
Maize Maze: The ministry of agriculture in Kenya has banned the importation of maize seeds in order to deal with the viral maize disease which has wreaked havoc in parts of the country. Futurist or Dreamer?This presentation at a food conference in Europe includes a speaker who claims the world "can easily feed 24 billion people."
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees took the first steps this week to bringing their respective FY 2015 funding bills to the floor for consideration. It is anticipated that the House Agriculture spending bill will go to the House floor shortly after it is considered by the full House Appropriations Committee next week. The Senate full committee marked up their spending bill this week, but it is unclear when it will go to the Senate floor for consideration.
Senate Full Committee Marks Up and Reports FY 2015 Agriculture Spending Bill
The full Senate Appropriations Committee reported their FY 2015 agriculture spending bill this week. The bill provides funding of $20.575 billion for USDA and FDA spending for the next fiscal year. Discretionary funding is $90 million below the FY 2014-enacted level but $228 million above the administration's budget request.
The Senate bill provides $1.2 billion for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), which is $17 million above FY 2014. The committee also stressed the importance of the ARS increasing its effort to address the decline of honeybee health, which has widespread implications for food and plants. The ARS will develop and test the efficacy of best management practices to help prevent colony collapse disorder (CCD), reduce colony mortality to acceptable levels, and potentially isolate causal factors for CCD.
The bill provides $1.292 for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which is $15 million above FY 2014. This amount includes $325 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Marks Up FY 2015 Spending Bill
The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee marked up their FY 2015 spending bill this week, deferring amendments to full committee mark-up scheduled for next week.
The bill totals $20.9 billion in discretionary funding, which is approximately the same as the FY 2014-enacted level. In total, the bill provides $142.5 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding--$1.5 billion below the President's request and $3 billion below the FY 2014-enacted level.
The House subcommittee bill provides $2.65 billion for agriculture research programs, including the ARS. This level is approximately the same as the FY 2014-enacted level.
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Societies, Companies, and Nonprofit Organizations
Serving on the CAST Board of Representatives
* American Association of Avian Pathologists
* American Association of Bovine Practitioners
* American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, & Resources-Agricultural Management
* American Dairy Science Association
* American Farm Bureau Federation
* American Meat Science Association
* American Meteorological Society, Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
* American Society for Nutrition
* American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
* American Society of Animal Science
* American Society of Plant Biologists
* American Veterinary Medical Association
* Aquatic Plant Management Society
* Council of Entomology Department Administrators
* Croplife America
* DuPont Pioneer
* Elanco Animal Health
* Iowa Soybean Association
* National Pork Board
* North Central Weed Science Society
* Northeastern Weed Science Society
* Poultry Science Association
* Society for In Vitro Biology
* Syngenta Crop Protection
* United Soybean Board
* Weed Science Society of America
* Western Society of Weed Science
* WinField, a Land O'Lakes Company
CAST assembles, interprets, and communicates credible, science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.
Dan Gogerty (Managing Communications Editor)
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology