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News Update

March 2, 2012

CAFO Meeting Scheduled for March 13 in West Point, Neb.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 representatives will host a public informational meeting for livestock producers about the Agency's inspection program for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on Tuesday, March 13, in West Point, Neb. EPA Region 7's inspections are part of an increased national emphasis on ending harmful discharges of pollutants from CAFOs into rivers and streams.

"It is important for EPA Region 7 staff to be out in the countryside so we can educate communities about EPA's job and how inspections support the agency's duties," EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. "That's why outreach efforts like this one are so important in obtaining the overall goal of protecting human health and water quality."

Topics at the meeting include selection of CAFOs for inspection, aerial overflights to assess CAFOs, winter feeding areas, manure stockpiling and nutrient management plans. There will be an opportunity for attendees to interact with EPA officials during a question-and-answer session led by Larry Howard, of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension.

The meeting will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave., West Point, NE 68788. EPA Region 7 representatives attending this event will include Josh Svaty, senior adviser to the regional administrator; Stephen Pollard, CAFO compliance and enforcement coordinator; and Trevor Urban, senior CAFO inspector.

Farm Foundation Forum: China's Future Economic Performance

China's future economic performance and the potential implications for U.S. and global agriculture will be examined at the Farm Foundation® Forum Wednesday, March 14.

The Forum will open with presentations by Colin Carter of the University of California–Davis and Brett Stuart of Global AgriTrends. After their brief presentations, the floor will be opened for discussion. Additional speakers have been invited.

There is no charge to participate in the March 14 Forum, but registration is requested by noon on Friday, March 9. Click here to send your email registration.

The Forum will be 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EDT at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C. Coffee will be available at 8:30 a.m.

Attendance is suggested for people with an interest in agricultural, food and rural policy, including members of Congress, congressional staff, executive branch officials, industry representatives, NGO representatives, academics and members of the media.

Please RSVP to by noon. There is no charge to participate. Review past Forum presentations and audio files at the Foundation's website.

You Can't Go Wrong with Conservation

"Today's Senate Agriculture Committee hearing confirmed something America's farmers have known for a long time: You can't go wrong with conservation programs," said Jon Scholl, president of American Farmland Trust (AFT). "The panelists gave a strong defense of the conservation programs that we have in place today and also provided thoughtful suggestions for how to make the programs even more efficient, effective and focused in the future.

"Several themes stood out during the hearing," says Scholl. "One is how valuable conservation programs are to farmers, especially those focused on working lands. The farmers who spoke about their own conservation efforts gave us a firsthand look at conservation's crucial role in helping meet rapidly increasing demand while maintaining healthy soils, water and air."

In addition, many of the panelists noted that conservation programs can drive economic growth on multiple levels:

In light of these economic benefits, the unintended consequences of proposed cuts to conservation are particularly troubling.

"Panelist Carl Mattson, a farmer from Montana, offered some very wise input to the committee," Scholl adds. "He said that current levels of spending on conservation may not be enough and reminded us that investment in conservation today is 'insurance' to help steward our natural resources for the future, when our agricultural capacity must increase."

Says Scholl, "Finalizing the 2012 Farm Bill this spring should be 'job number one' because a temporary extension of current policy merely creates needless uncertainty and greater fiscal challenges in the future. We need to move forward with strong conservation programs and policies that better serve farmers, consumers and our environment."

Missouri ProStart Competition Gives Students Beef Cooking Confidence

Visualize an Iron Chef competition happening in the middle of a large school gymnasium with 31 high school culinary teams. In a nearby room, another 11 high school teams are involved in a restaurant industry management competition.

That was the Missouri State ProStart Competition, which took place at East Central College in Union, Mo., Feb. 17 with approximately 130 high school students from throughout the state.

The annual competition, which is sponsored by the Missouri Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the Office of College and Career Readiness, Family Consumer Sciences and Human Services, DESE, provides students the opportunity to showcase their love for food and cooking and to develop restaurant management skills.

As a major sponsor, the Missouri Beef Industry Council provides these high school culinary and management students, along with other students in Family and Consumer Science (FACS) classes, the experience of cooking with lean beef.

Whitney Wallace, Missouri Beef Industry Council director of consumer outreach, attended this year's culinary contest on behalf of the beef checkoff.

"We sponsor the ProStart program because we want to encourage students to expand their culinary skills," Wallace said. "We're thrilled to assist in teaching these students the essentials of becoming top-notch chefs, as they learn how versatile and delicious beef is as the center of their culinary creations."

Wallace said the students exhibited strong passion for what they're learning in their culinary arts and FACS classes. "These students are excited about food and cooking, and it is rewarding to see how their involvement has provided them with key life lessons in areas like team work, responsibility, time management, and confidence," she said.

At the event, Wallace had many conversations about the importance of beef as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Through these key connections with young consumers and their instructors, the Missouri Beef Industry Council builds relationships and leverages checkoff dollars to further the promotion of beef resources in classrooms and the lives of future food industry professionals.

Of the 32 participating teams, 31 competed in the culinary contest where they were responsible for preparing original recipes and creating attractive plated presentations. Eleven teams competed in the management contest, which focuses on creating restaurant plans, from the concept, menu items and pricing all the way to restaurant layout, and other key logistical strategies for new restaurants.

Schools are allowed to enter both the culinary and management divisions.

Judges from the foodservice industry and leading colleges and universities selected winning teams in the culinary and management contests. First-place teams in each division, culinary and management, compete in the National ProStart Competition, hosted by the National Restaurant Association. The national competition will take place April 27-29 in Baltimore, Md.


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