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News Update

February 26, 2013

World Organization for Animal Health
Recommends U.S. BSE Risk Status Be Upgraded

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement about notification received from the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommending that the United States’ risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be upgraded to negligible risk:

“I am very pleased with this decision and recommendation by the OIE’s Scientific Commission. This is a significant achievement for the United States, American beef producers and businesses, and federal and state partners who work in coordination to maintain a system of three interlocking safeguards against BSE that protect our public and animal health. Being classified as negligible risk for BSE by the OIE will also greatly support our efforts to increase exports of U.S. beef and beef products.

“In recommending that the United States receive negligible risk classification, the Commission stated that the risk assessments submitted for their evaluation were robust and comprehensive, and that both our surveillance for, and safeguards against, BSE are strong. U.S. beef and beef products are of the highest quality, wholesome and produced to the highest safety standards in the world. The United States continues to press for normalization of beef trade with several nations in a manner that is based on science and consistent with international standards. U.S. food and agricultural exporters and consumers worldwide benefit when countries adopt international standards.”

For more information and a background, click here.

MSU Extension Online Crop and
Forage Highlights Scheduled for March 14 and 21

On Thursday evenings March 14 and 21, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension will offer Online Crop and Forage Highlights addressing key production points for 2013 in a virtual format. These programs will run from 7-9 p.m. EST and can be viewed independently online at no cost over a high-speed Internet connection. Those unable to access the programs online can attend one of several group viewing sites throughout Michigan for $10 per person.

The March 14 program will focus on enhancing corn and small-grain systems in the coming season by addressing emerging production and pest management issues. Presentations will include tips for maximizing corn production from Purdue University corn specialist Bob Nielsen; small grain production pointers from MSU Extension educators Martin Nagelkirk and Jim Isleib; a weed management report from MSU’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences’ Christy Sprague; and an insect pest update by MSU Extension’s Bruce MacKellar. Viewing sites for this event will be available in Bellaire, Benton Harbor, Escanaba, Grand Rapids, Monroe, Ontonagon, Rogers City, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Johns, Tustin and West Branch, Mich.

The March 21 program will address agronomic, economic and environmental aspects of forage systems. Nielsen will give a presentation on corn silage production, followed by Kim Cassida of MSU Extension and her discussion of drought recovery management for forages, a presentation on cost of production by MSU Extension’s Phil Kaatz, and an introduction to MAEAP verification for forage and livestock systems by Josh Appleby. Viewing sites for March 21 will be available in Bellaire, Benton Harbor, Escanaba, Grand Rapids, Ionia, L’Anse, Monroe, Rogers City, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Johns, Tustin and West Branch, Mich.

For more information and the full release, click here.

Windbreaks Provide Permanent Protection During Drought

The second chapter of article 20 of Kansas state statutes indicates “soil erosion caused by wind or dust storms is declared to be destructive to the natural resources of the state and a menace to the health and well-being of our citizens.” The statutes suggest it is the duty of Kansas landowners “to conserve the natural resources of the state, and to prevent the injurious effects of dust storm by planting perennial grasses, shrubs and trees” and introducing other emergency control measures.

Kansas continues to experience extreme drought conditions in 76% of the state, with the remainder in exceptional drought. These conditions have created concern among Kansas State University soil scientists, agronomists and foresters that severe dust storms and wind-blown soil erosion will occur in late winter and spring of 2013. Annually, an estimated 2 tons per acre per year of topsoil is lost to wind erosion on the 24 million acres of cultivated cropland in Kansas. There is little doubt that 2013 will exceed that average.

“There are many conservation techniques that can reduce soil erosion such as the integration of crop residues or performing emergency tillage to roughen surfaces,” according to Bob Atchison, rural forestry coordinator with the Kansas Forest Service. “However, during drought years, it is hard to beat the time-tested shelterbelts and windbreaks to provide the most effective and persistent control of wind erosion.”

Tree and shrub windbreaks provide excellent wind protection at a distance 10 times the height of the windbreak. In Kansas that equates to an estimated 579,221 acres protected based on the 289,577 acres of windbreaks that stretch 43,436 miles in length, a length that would cross the state east to west almost 100 times.

“In response to drought and dust storms of the 1930s, more than 200 million trees and shrubs were planted to windbreaks on 30,000 farms throughout the Great Plains between 1935 and 1942,” Atchison said. “Unfortunately many of these windbreaks have been removed to make way for pivot irrigation systems and are continuing to be removed to make way for more farm ground due to high prices for crops.”

For more information and the full release, click here.

Institute Gives Students Global Perspective on Hunger

Indiana high school students studying to help end world hunger can compete at Purdue University in April to earn a place among their peers at an international symposium organized by the World Food Prize Foundation.

The Global Youth Institute program allows students to research topics related to food insecurity and present their findings at a state and global level and in front of audiences of educators, scientists, researchers, experts and fellow students.

In Indiana, students will begin by attending the World Food Prize Youth Institute at Purdue University, home of World Food Prize laureates Philip E. Nelson in 2007 and Gebisa Ejeta in 2009. The World Food Prize often is referred to as the “Nobel Prize of Agriculture.”

The state-level program is open at no cost for those in grades 9-12 who research and write a paper on a topic related to food security in developing countries under the guidance of one of their teachers, who serves as a mentor. Students will present their research to their peers during the Purdue symposium, and the top five participants will be chosen as Indiana’s delegates to the Global Youth Institute in October in Des Moines, Iowa, where the World Food Prize Foundation is based.

The required research meets Indiana state educational standards, serves as a class project and enables the students to gain a perspective unmatched by few of their peers, said Donna Keener, academic coordinator for the Purdue Department of Food Science.

“The World Food Prize Youth Institute at Purdue is a unique opportunity for students and their mentor teachers to come together to interact with experts on global food security issues,” Keener said. “The research project leading up to the event is a chance for students to reach understanding beyond their own community and life experiences toward the complexities and urgency of feeding our world population, which takes students to a level of understanding far beyond most of their peers.”

For more information and the full release, click here.


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