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.
The Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture
has been "doing its thing" since 1785--the era when Jefferson was the nation's most influential farmer and Franklin took time to publish news and fly kites.
Nominations are open until February 2 for the 2015 Borlaug CAST Communication Award, an honor that recognizes professionals actively working in the agricultural, environmental, or food sectors who are promoting agricultural science in the public policy arena.
The National Agricultural Library unveils PubAg, a user-friendly search engine that gives the public enhancedaccess to research published by USDA scientists.
The USDA announces more than $18 million to support training anddevelopment for beginning farmersand ranchers.
ISU and Farm Bureau
A new partnership was announced between Iowa State University and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation to promote farming in Iowa.
An Ohio State University study sees a corollary between fast food and test scores.
The first 2015 forecast from the USDA's National Water and Climate Center predicts the rain and snowfallexpected for the country.
|January 16, 2015|
Ag Issues Part of Legislative Surge
No Certainties about What Will Actually Get Done
Congress is back in session with a new "head count" in both houses, but some of the same debates remain. Agricultural issues will be an important part of the mix. The topics include:
** The U.S. House of Representatives passed the newest version of the Regulatory Accountability Act, but it awaits Senate action--and the President threatens a veto.
** Regarding the status of COOL, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack says the impetus is on Congress to make changes to a law requiring meat products to carry country-of-origin labeling.
** Congressional Republicans and Nebraska's Supreme Court have shipped the Keystone XL oil pipeline project back to a reluctant President Obama.
** United Farm Workers and some others criticized House leaders for votes to rescind executive orders regarding deportation deferrals--measures that will address labor challenges in the country with undocumented workers.
** President Obama announced steps he will discuss in the State of the Union address to help more Americans get access to fast and affordable broadband.
** In a recent speech, Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack touted Farm Bill progress and provided an update on program signup and availability.
The World According to Temple
Links to videos and articles about Temple Grandin often appear in this publication and others. Although not everyone agrees with all of her premises, most respect her insights and admire her straight-forward approach.
This recent video comes from a speech she made at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention. In these twenty-three minutes, she covers many animal ag issues and gives a few brief statements about biotech crops.
She says "pink slime" should be labeled, but not using it is like "taking a load of cattle out and shooting them--a terrible waste." She seems to think that sow stalls are an "impossible sell" no matter what the science shows, and she is optimistic about improved cattle practices and conditions in slaughterhouses. She also believes it is imperative to communicate clearly and scientifically about GMO food products.
News from the Far Side of the Barn
How These Brazilians Fish for Piranhas (video): Just grab some entrails, a bucket, and a bit of courage.
Sprinting Over the Dirt, with a Robot on the Hump (video): This camel racing blends traditions and modern technology as robots replace the cruel practice of using children as jockeys.
Just Another Day in a Dog's Life (video): This Seattle dog doesn't wait for her owner to take her to the dog park--she rides the bus by herself.
Brave New World of Agriculture
Young Agriculturalists Ride a Tide of Innovation and Technology
Fewer folks live "on the land," but more people than ever are involved with agriculture and food production. The future success of agriculture lies in the hands of a younger generation, and opportunities abound. Vocational agriculture classes, FFA, 4-H, and other organizations lead to dynamic ag programs in the nation's universities.
As one old-timer said, "In school I learned how to read tractor operation manuals, how farm loans are supposed to work, and how to chew tobacco without teachers catchin' me. My real learnin' came on the farm."
Sixty-five years later, agriculture education has changed. Some learn hands-on techniques, but the modern curriculum involves heavy doses of science, tech, and communication. Agriculture graduates become business entrepreneurs, scientists, community leaders, and food producers. In an era when farmers must deal with GPS devices, on-board computers, and robotic milking parlors, courses need to be flexible.
Eleven of the nation's top agriculture schools belong to CAST's education program, and thousands of high school students have access to CAST information thanks to a grant from WinField (a Land 'O Lakes company), and thanks to the editors at NAAE (National Association of Agricultural Educators).
Our member universities represent active, influential ag/science programs: Iowa State Univ., Kansas State Univ., Mississippi State Univ., Texas A&M Univ., The Ohio State University, the Univ. of Arkansas, the Univ. of California-Davis, the Univ. of Florida, the Univ. of Kentucky, the Univ. of Nebraska, and the Univ. of Nevada-Reno.
Instructors have asked about using CAST material and Friday Notes for research projects or class assignments. Individual high school and college students have contacted us about ag-related research. We encourage this. Our Ag quickCAST publications have been especially popular, and theCAST website offers lots of material available for free download.
For the younger generation, there has always been an Internet--social media, precision ag, and "drone-mania" are with us whether we want it all or not. Forward-thinking ag education will ensure that future food production is in good hands.
Friday Notes News Categories
Photos courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service (top masthead); TopLatest News (globe at right). P.1 Capitol pic from addictinginfo.org, Grandin pic from d.umn.edu, and pirahna pic from natyu.com. Animal Sec. emu pic from businessweek.jpg. Food Sec. school pic from adventuresofgrandmahoney.blogspot. Plant Sec. tomato pic from a.abcnews.com. Inter. Sec. pic of chocolate from 1clicknews.com. Gen Sec. pic of Gates from blogmytuts.blogspot.com. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.
Animal Agriculture and Environmental News
Carnitas Cutback (video): Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. suspended sales of pork at about a third of its more than 1,700 restaurants after finding an important supplier didn't comply with its animal-welfare standards.
Meat Quality (opinion): This site gives tips regarding how to improve quality, food safety, and yield with preslaughter management.
Egged On: According to this report, a shortage of legally compliant shell eggs is sending prices soaring in California.
|Emu eggs might need a descriptor all their own.|
Not Always What They're Cracked Up To Be (opinion): According to this article,egg terms such as "farm fresh" and "natural" are not always accurate.
UnCOOL (opinion): This writer says that country-of-origin labeling has meant legal wrangling and high costs--and consumers who don't really care.
Grande Topic: The Starbucks corporation plans to require dairy, meat, and egg products served in its coffee shops to come from suppliers that follow certain animal-welfare standards. This raises big questions.
Animal Health and Food Safety (related to above): The article above from foodsafetynews.com refers to the CAST Commentary The Direct Relationship between Animal Health and Food Safety Outcomes.
Pork Board Gets New Leader: A new CEO takes over at the National Pork Board and gives us a look at the agenda.
Where the Goats Roam: This map shows where goats are located in the United States--and reasons whygoats are hot items nowadays. There were 2,621,514 goats in the United States as of 2012.
The Black Sheep of the Family: A pair of ranchers in the hills of western Colorado are trying to ensure the future of the rare Black Welsh Mountain sheep.
Food Science and Safety News
|Machine-crafted Confections (video): This writer gives a "tasting" of the 3-D printed foods he was able to taste-test at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. |
Food Hubs: Move over farmers' markets. More than 300 food hubs around the country are also providing small farms another outlet to sell locally raised food to consumers.
From Paleo to Plant-based (opinion): U.S. News & World Report enlisted a panel of doctors, nutritionists, and other health experts to evaluate the most popular diets.
Plant Agriculture and Environmental News
Conservation Partnership Program: The USDA announced that 115 high-impact projects across all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico will receive more than $370 million in federal funding.
Labeling Mistake? (video opinion): According to this article, mandated labeling of genetically modified foods is a disingenuous political agenda that will be both confusing and costly for consumers.
Labeling Research (related to above): CAST's Issue Paper #54 examines the potential impacts of mandatory labeling for GMO foods.
Wheat and Global Warming (opinion): According to this report, global wheat harvests might be reduced by 6% per each degree Celsius of local temperature increase if no adaptation takes place.
Speaking Up: The EPA is soliciting comments regarding neonicotinoid seed treatments on soybeans.
|Tomato or potato? Plant identity crisis.|
Want Fries with That? You can now grow America's favorite foods with the "Ketchup 'n' Fries" hybrid plant--tomatoes and potatoes.
Some Say Potato--Some Say Biotech: The new potato varieties called "Innate" are attractive for various reasons, but some--including big company buyers--are not willing to buy them.
"Extinct Peanut" on Comeback Trail: A Clemson horticulturalist is trying to revive the South's original peanut, long thought to be extinct.
Redesigning Plants: Opening up opportunities to "redesign plants" for biofuel production, researchers identify the gene regulatory network that controls the formation of xylem--the major component of wood.
Plants vs. Ants: A tricky insect-eating plant from Borneo is living proof that one need not have a brain to outsmart the opposition.
Soybean for Animal Feed: A new high-yield, high-protein conventional soybean variety from the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is now on the market.
Take Cover: This site offers expert advice for cover-crop decisions.
|A Whole Lotta Sushi (video): A Pacific bluefin tuna went up for auction at the world's biggest fish market. The president of a popular sushi chain in Japan entered the winning bid of $37,500. |
|Better not try scrambling this egg!|
Chocolate Shell Shock: Brits are in an uproar about changeswith Cadbury's iconic Creme Eggs--foil-wrapped chocolates filled with gooey "whites" and "yolks" made of candy.
Say "Ahhhh": Japanese consumers are gobbling up U.S. cow tongue--including mashed tongue, tongue sausage, tongue gravy, tongue salad, tongue stew, fried tongue, etc.
Opening the Biotech Door: China approves imports of a genetically modified soybean variety, confirming the last of three expected approvals of biotech U.S. crops from different seed companies.
Thirsty Plants Can Order a Drink: An Israeli agri-tech start-up is bringing wi-fi technology to the home plant market.
General Interest News
Bottoms Up--Waste and Water (video): The OmniProcessor, a new kind of low-cost waste treatment plant, can transform sewage waste into useful products--including drinking water.
|Bill Gates promotes new water |
The Consumer Electronics Show (video): Some of theproducts included self-driving cars, modern climate control systems, and a robotic spider dress.
Living Drones: Tiny flying robots inspired by honeybees aren't that far from our imagination. The intent has not been agriculture so far, but a chemical sensing weapon.
The Steaks Are High: An online game, The Steaks Are High, was launched on the myamericanfarm.org website. Users pick an avatar character from the beef industry and explore the beef production process.
Water Fight: The water board of Des Moines, Iowa, approved filing a lawsuit against three counties to force farmers to reduce the nutrient runoff, mainly nitrates, that flows into the city's water supply.
A Year on the Farm: This new educational children's book introduces children, ages 4 to 8, to modern farming.
Something in the Air: A team of Iowa State University specialists has developed an online tool to help livestock and poultry producers compare odor mitigation techniques.
Cold Shock: A protein that protects hibernating animals during lengthy spells of sleeping could be the key to fighting Alzheimer's disease, according to these scientists.
Cryin' Out a Sale:
Livestock auctioneers might have 10,000 participants online nowadays, but the cadence and rhythm of the voice still echoes from the dusty sale barns
of the past.
Check out CAST's page at the YouTube site to view highly regarded ag-science videos about probiotics, food safety, and water issues--or the latest video dealing with proposed mandatory labeling of GMO food items.
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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
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* 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
* California Dairy Research Foundation
* Council of Entomology Department Administrators
* Croplife America
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* Iowa Soybean Association
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* Poultry Science Association
* Society for In Vitro Biology
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* United Soybean Board
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* Western Society of Weed Science
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