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As this year's apples ripen, researchers at Iowa State University are finding that producers are following safe and sanitary procedures for cider manufacturing. "We have found no microorganisms that can cause food-borne illnesses over the past three years at selected Iowa apple cider producing sites," said Bonnie Glatz, professor of food science and human nutrition. Since 1998, FDA regulations have required labeling that indicates whether cider has been pasteurized to kill pathogens. Iowa State University has conducted cider schools educating producers as a partial requirement for certification by the Iowa Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association. As FDA rules become more stringent, educating producers is increasingly important. "The training programs stress rules and regulations, good manufacturing practices, proper sanitation and hygiene, and the new Hazard Analysis and Critical Controlled Points (HACCP) regulation process during the cider making process," said Lester Wilson, professor of food science and human nutrition. Contact Wilson, (515) 294-3889; Glatz, (515) 294-3970; or Barb McManus, Ag Communications Service, (515) 294-0707.

Question: Can Vidalia onions be grown in Iowa? Answer: No, Vidalia onions can only be grown in a legislated geographical region in the state of Georgia, and the producers who grow these famous sweet onions have a federal marketing order that says so. An analysis of how a trademark and a federal marketing order can be part of a strategy to increase the economic value of agricultural products is available from the Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center (MATRIC) at Iowa State University. Vidalia onions represent a proven success story in using effective marketing, legislation and research to develop a niche market for an agricultural product. By protecting a product's name, quality and image through state ownership of the trademark, producers can protect their market from becoming oversupplied, creating higher value throughout the marketing chain. The paper, "Why Can't Vidalia Onions Be Grown in Iowa? Developing a Branded Agricultural Product," is available at Contact Roxanne Clemens, MATRIC, (515) 294-8842; or Sandy Clarke, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development Communications, (515) 294-6257.

China's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001 was a significant event for U.S. agricultural trade. China has promised to cut tariffs and further open its markets to U.S. products. The exact composition and extent of U.S. agricultural and food trade with China, however, remains unclear. Recent research at the Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center (MATRIC) compares the productivity and cost of production of China and the U.S. Midwest to see how the two agricultural powers might stack up. The results show that the U.S. Midwest has a substantial advantage in land and labor productivities in producing corn and soybeans. Only China's Northeast region has an advantage over the U.S. in cost of production. In hog production, the U.S. Midwest has a cost advantage over China in feed cost and labor productivity, but this advantage is more than offset by the lower cost of feeder pigs and possible lower capital replacement cost in China. Land policy and labor productivity will be important determinants of the competitive positions of the two countries in the future. For more information, see "Does the U.S. Midwest Have a Cost Advantage Over China in Producing Corn, Soybeans, and Hogs?" available at Contact Jacinto Fabiosa, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) (515) 294-6183; or Sandy Clarke, CARD Communications, (515) 204-6257.


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