News Tidbits
April 28, 2005

Business Development Funds Available

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced today the selection of 16 loan and grant recipients who will receive $6 million in rural business development funds. The funding, which went to recipients in 10 states, is meant to support economic and community development and assist in the creation or saving of more than 1,000 rural jobs, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) release stated.

Funds support community facilities and infrastructure, access to local medical care and other projects that encourage a favorable climate for jobs and growth. Funding of selected applicants will be contingent upon meeting the conditions of the loan and/or grant agreement. Visit for a complete list of recipients and additional information on rural programs.

Mastitis-Resistant Cow Cloned

The USDA has cloned a cow that is resistant to a form of mastitis, a bacterial infection that costs the dairy industry almost $2 billion per year by infecting cows’ udders, The Associated Press (AP) has reported.

According to the article, a professor at the University of Vermont modified a gene from a bacterium that produces an enzyme that kills another mastitis-causing strain of bacteria. USDA researchers then inserted the gene into Jersey cow embryos. Once the cows matured, researchers infused their udders with mastitis-causing bacteria. Only 14% of the animals’ mammary glands became infected, compared to 71% in cows without the modified gene. The genetically engineered cows are expected to pass their mastitis-resistant gene on to their offspring; however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would have to approve milk containing the enzyme. The bacteria killed by the modified gene cause approximately one-third of mastitis cases, the article noted.

School’s in Session

Working the land and tending to cattle are just parts of everyday life for many in agriculture, but for some students, farm and ranch activity is serving as an important part of their education. According to an AP article released Monday, the Practical Farm Training Program at the Farm School in Athol, Mass. — a 180-acre farm 70 miles northwest of Boston — is home to six students who have paid up to $9,240 in tuition, room and board. Students learn practical skills in addition to planting and harvesting crops and breeding and caring for animals. Students are taught how to manage a farm budget and take part in everyday chores. A similar school, the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, in Santa Cruz, Calif., is educating students using similar guidelines.

To read the complete article, visit

compiled by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc. assistant editor

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