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From improving school infrastructure to serving as Executive Director of their state’s agriculture teachers association, these members have made remarkable contributions to the agricultural education profession. It is our pleasure to award these members for their hard work and years of dedication to the profession.


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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.

In This Issue...... Click to Read
Universities and Agriculture--P.2
Animal Agriculture News
Food Science and Safety News
Plant and Environment News
International News
General Interest News
American Flag
Memorial Day Weekend in the United States


Ag Investment Is Critical

The United States must doubleinvestment in agricultural and food research during the next ten years and recalibrate investment priorities in order to meet projected global food demand, according to this report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

  Ag's Rate of Return    


This CAST Commentary supports research and public funding for agriculture: Investing in a Better Future through Public Agricultural Research.

Arriving in Style for Prom Night in the Midwest 



Global Food Waste

In the United States, nearly 40% of all food never gets eaten--from food lost on the farm all the way to the potatoes left on your breakfast platter. ThisUN report examines food waste worldwide

    LISA--Saving Money   


LISA (Low-input Sustainable Agriculture) is one of many ways tosave money farming, according to this site. 


Social Media

CAST social media circle, preziA CASTMemorial Day blog views head stone epitaphs as historical tweets and graveside chats as family wikihistory.  Check the popular CAST Catch of the Day here, and CAST's Twitter site here.

May 22, 2015


Precision Ag Becomes Decision Ag
Integrated Systems--Faster, Better, Easier?



precision ag, cema-agri.orgBefore many of us have even had a chance to decide whether or not the term Big Data should be capitalized, we get word that "Precision Ag" is morphing into "Decision Ag." The following links provide a quick dip into the waters of ag's rising digital tide.

** Integrated data systems are at the forefront, and according to this article, farming becomes better due to data-driven decision ag.

** Small farmers and Big Data combine forces with Farmers Business Network--a start-up that uses Silicon Valley savvy and typifies the latest in a surge of investments applying Internet innovations to growing food.

** This blog site includes more precision ag links plus a look at a time when analog data was shared and farming was a bit less precise-- "What's in Your Cloud?"         


News and Views


**  The Heat Is on COOL:  The WTO ruled for the fourth time that the U.S. mandatory country-of-origin-labeling law is illegal, and the House Ag Committee soon voted to repeal the act.

**  Avian Flu--Updates:  Now reaching at least 15 states, the outbreak has been detected at 174 farms, according to the USDA. Some think the flu strains may be spreading because of wild ducks and geese.

**  Wide Effects of Avian Flu:  More than 35 countries have been hit with avian flu outbreaks. Check the Animal Section for related stories.

**  Calorie Count Rule:  The Food and Drug Administration's requirement that restaurants start posting calorie counts later this year is raising concerns across the political spectrum.

**  The High Costs of Food Illnesses:  The latest estimates from the Department of Agriculture suggest that foodborne illnesses cost the U.S. $15.5 billion each year.

**  Federal Policy Regarding Pollinators:  The White House released its National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators, calling for the restoration or enhancement of seven millionacres of land for pollinators. Reaction to the report has been mixed. 


News from the Far Side of the Barn


truck wreck, pbs.twimg.jpg


The slogan on the truck says it all.
It's Raining Spiders (video):  Millions of tiny spiders recently fell from the sky in Australia, alarming residents whose properties were suddenly covered with the critters and mounds of their silky threads. 

Can Your Dog Hang Ten? (video):   A short clip from the beach, in case it's been too long since you've had your fill of surfing dogs.




Universities and the Future of Ag

From Cafeteria Food to High Tech to Community Outreach



The academic year ends for some and changes for others during the month of May, but the importance of universities regarding agriculture never slows down. These are a few of the many items that recently popped up.


**  Ag Degree Jobs:  As a follow-up report to last week's positive data, this article looks at the way the ag employment projections reflect a need for a highly skilled workforce to support the food, agriculture, and natural resources industries needed to feed the world.


**  Who Has the Best College Food?  Food is certainly a key topic in the lives of most college students. So... this list presents one view of the 50 U.S. colleges with the best food


**  Importance of Land-grant Schools:  About 80% of Americans now live in urban areas, and increasingly they can turn to institutions that have been serving farmers in rural areas for more than 150 years--land-grant colleges and universities. From the University of Florida to Texas A&M, land-grant institutions dispense practical advice to farmers and hobby gardeners across the country. 


**  Universities and Drones:  Several land-grant universities are joining the Federal Aviation Administration to do research about unmanned aerial systems (drones). Mississippi State University will be the headquarters of the research--Kansas State University and others are joining the effort. 


**  Non-land-grant Schools Also Involved:  The USDA announced the availability of $4 million in grants to support research, education, and outreach activities at non-land-grant colleges and universities.
Globe (TopLatestNews)

Friday Notes News Categories

Photos courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service (top masthead); TopLatest News (globe at right). P.1 precision ag pic from and the truck pic from pbs.twimg. Animal Sec. egg pic from scienceblogs.jpg. Food section cube pic from Plant Sec. harvest pic from Inter. Sec. farmer pic from gravator.jpg. Gen. Sec. drone pic from dron.jpg. Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.  

   Baby Chicks

   Animal Agriculture and Environmental News

Expanded Data about Antimicrobials? The FDA proposes to expand animal drug data to include information about species, adding estimates of sales for cattle, swine, chickens, or turkeys.

Comments Accepted (related to above):  The FDA proposes revisions to its annual reporting requirements for drug sponsors of antimicrobials for use in food-producing animals--comment time is open now.


chick egg


Sad times for poultry farmers.
Avian Flu Impact:  The idea of 33 million lost birds in the poultry industry seems staggering for all livestock producers. How will this affect feed prices, exports, and other issues?


Video Related to Above:  This short clip explains how the stricken birds will be safely disposed of .

Hog Diseases:
  Several pathogens can cause swine respiratory disease problems. Secondary disease problems are less frequent or severe but sometimes more difficult to control.

Beef and Genetic Diversity (opinion): Crossbreeding breeds of cattle produces calves that are genetically varied. This expanded gene pool has positive benefits on calf survival, growth, and reproduction.

WWCD--What Would a Cow Do? (opinion):  This blogger looks at leadership--along with bovine common sense and human nature.

What's in a Disease Name?  The World Health Organization issues guidelines for naming new human infectious diseases--such as "bird flu" and "swine flu"--because they have unintended negative impacts

China, Peru, and Europe Open to More U.S. Pork:  While U.S. pork exports still face market access barriers in many destinations around the world, some notable gains were achieved in recent weeks. 

Porcine Tea Time: This farm in Japan gives the pigs green tea instead of plain water. The farm's owners say customers prefer the flavor and aroma of the pork.

Pets and Kids Form Bonds:  According to a recent University of Missouri study, autistic children form attachments to a variety of small pets and may therefore develop stronger social and communication skills.

Salmonella (FSIS)

   Food Science and Safety News

Labels, Ads, and Truth (opinion):  What is legit when it comes to food labels?  "Natural" and other food labels that sound legitimate but may not be.

Labels (related to above):  Check the CAST Annotated Forthcoming page to read about the upcoming Issue Paper, Process Labeling of Food: Consumer Behavior, the Agricultural Sector, and Policy Recommendations.

In-flight Dining (opinion):  Researchers suggest a surprising reason airplane food tastes terrible.

     Cubism--food style.

Food Art:
  This impressive photo shows 98 unprocessed foods cut into extremely precise 2.5-cm cubes and aligned on a staggered grid.


Ready for the Food Safety Modernization Act?  The FDA touts a new law promising to revolutionize the nation's food system into one focused on preventing foodborne illness.       



Consumer Confusion:  The International Food Information Council Foundation's Food and Health Survey found that, more than ever in the survey's history, consumer confusion is emerging as a key concern.

Still Lovin' It? Fast food giant McDonald's apparently will pursue a makeover to regain markets. Some wonder if the gleam of the golden arches is fading. How did that pop culture icon begin?

Almonds in the Raw?  With debates occurring about "raw" almonds, this UC-Davis expert says pasteurization doesn't change their nutritional value. She predicts that sterilization of more foods will soon be required. 

Bucket List Sandwiches? This site calls these "sandwiches to try before you die."

Speaking of Sandwiches (related to above):  This site claims insight into building the best pulled-pork sandwich.



   Plant Agriculture and Environmental News

Harvesting in the dark.
Harvesting at Night (video):  This greenhouse "farm" in Montreal provides just what is needed, cutting out waste and keeping everything as fresh as possible.


Bird's-eye View of Planting (video): This drone view of corn plantingin the Midwest shows the scope and beauty of the spring ritual.


Biotech Ban Nonsense (opinion):
According to this editorial, GMOfood bans pander to ignorance. It claims that some corporate decisions are based on misinformation. 

Biotech "Pro-science" Stance (opinion): Since he switched from anti to pro GMOs, Mark Lynas has continued to speak out about biotech issues

A Biotech Resistance Problem:  A new university study finds that the toxin in a widely used genetically modified crop is having little impact on the pest called corn earworm(Helicoverpa zea).

Ag Prognostication:
  The USDA released its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate report for May.

Diggin' in the Dirt: This Soil Society site has many articles--including looks at mud/landslides, soil generation, fertilizer use, and more.

Odd Organisms:  These photos (and some videos) of real plants and fungi may seem like something dreamed up for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, but they are real.

Restoring Dune Plants:  Some say that "stabilizing" dunes suppresses native species and makes the dunes themselves more prone to erosion

  World and Plug (SFGate)

  International News  

Precision Farming Way Down Under:  Tasmanian researchers have been testing optical sensor boom sprayers to reduce nitrogen use on dairy farms.

Yes--We Have Some Bananas (opinion):  Angola's blooming banana plantations offer new hope for farming, as they thrive again in the tropical plains of Caxito.

young african farmer,


Keeping them on the farm
in the age of smart phones.
Tough Keeping Them on the Farm in Uganda:  Authorities worry thatyoungsters just want to migrate to urban centers--especially to operate "boda-boda," motorcycle taxis.

Ye Olde Switcheroo:
  A pet store in Brazil performed an experiment to see what would happen if they put shelter pets in place of the regular animals for sale, and if this would help more shelter animals find homes. 

Named and Shamed:   Some New Zealanders are using social mediato shame farmers who pay workers below minimum wage and offer poor working conditions.

Emerald Isle Milk Farmer Shortage:  Ireland's Minister for Agriculture says it is time to start attracting nonfarmers into agricultural education because of the expected shortage of workers on dairy farms.

Quinoa and Soy Milk--What about the Vegemite? Australian nonprofit Nutrition Australia has a campaign centering around a modern-day food pyramid based on the country's most recent nutritional guidelines.


African Livestock Study: Researchers have suspected a link between the health of farmers and the health of their livestock--a team of veterinary and economic scientists produced the first relevant study.

  General Interest News

Hmmm--Is This Always a Good Thing? (video):  Throw this drone in the air and it follows you around--and of course it films you.

Is that your drone or mine?

Drones and Ag (opinion):  This site presents five ways drones could change the way America eats--including methods to herd cattle, count fish, and apply pesticides.

In Case You Need Gift Ideas--and Have Plenty of Money:  This photo essay shows some cool unmanned aircraft from theInternational Drone Expo in Chiba, Japan. 

Mandatory or Voluntary Runoff Rules?  Agriculture and environmental interests both see the need to cut back nutrient runoff, but the path toward achieving those cutbacks
continues to be a point of contention


Charitable Food Truck:  Seattle will open a food truck this summer that will use proceeds (and sandwiches) to serve people in need: patients in hospitals, hospices, long-term residential facilities, and more.


Hydroponics Now More Affordable?  Hydroponics--combined with 3D printing--seems to be getting less expensive and more accessible for home gardeners.

Fill 'Er Up: Driven by growth in the use of biofuels and natural gas, non-petroleum energy now makes up the highest percentage of total fuel consumption for transport in the United States since 1954.

Seems Like a Sound Idea:
  This community is using ultrasonic soundwaves to kill off troublesome algae

Research about Algae (related to above):  Click here to access the CAST Commentary about nuisance aquatic plants and algae, and click here for the Ag quickCAST version of this influential paper.


CAST Information


YouTubeCheck 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.


fishing ideas kgtohbuIf you have a good idea for a CAST publication, contact us by clicking HERE for the "Proposal Format and Background Information Form."



CAST provides Friday Notes as a benefit to its members.  Please do not forward, edit, copy, or distribute the Notes in any form to nonmembers without the express permission of the CAST Executive Vice President Linda Chimenti ( Instead, please encourage your colleagues to join CAST and thereby become eligible for all membership benefits. Contact Colleen Hamilton at 515-292-2125, ext. 224 or, orCLICK HERE for CAST membership information.


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 Nutritional Sciences Council   

* American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers

* American Society of Animal Science  

* American Society of Plant Biologists                                      world supported by plants and animals

* American Veterinary Medical Association

* Aquatic Plant Management Society

* California Dairy Research Foundation                                        

* Council of Entomology Department Administrators  

* Croplife America 

* Crop Science Society of America                                                                       

* DuPont Pioneer 

* Elanco Animal Health

* Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy                                  

* Monsanto                                                                                    

* National Pork Board

* National Turkey Federation

* 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.  

CAST Logo Jan 2010


Dan Gogerty (Managing Communications Editor) 

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology

4420 West Lincoln Way

Ames, Iowa  50014-3347

Phone: 515-292-2125, ext. 222; Fax: 515-292-4512; E-mail:

**  With assistance from Carol Gostele (Managing Scientific Editor).   




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