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September 2003


Iowa grown and processed grape juice may have a ready market in consumer buying clubs and churches, according to results from two recent surveys funded by a competitive grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. Craig Chase, an ISU Extension specialist in Black Hawk County, mailed a questionnaire to 500 buying clubs of Blooming Prairie, a natural foods distributor based in Iowa City. He also surveyed 120 randomly selected congregations in the United Methodist, Church of Christ and Presbyterian churches in Iowa. Nearly all of the buying clubs that responded to the survey indicated an interest in purchasing a locally grown organic product. Chase also found a sizeable potential market for locally grown sparkling grape juice. Among the churches that responded, convenience and taste were important factors in purchasing grape juice for communion. Congregations of more than 200 indicated they would be willing to pay more for a local product. For a copy of the final report, "Let the Vineyards Be Fruitful: A Study of the Potential Market for Iowa Grape Juice," contact the Leopold Center, (515) 294-3711, Contact Rich Pirog, (515) 294-1854, Leopold Center; or Laura Miller, Leopold Center, (515) 294-5272.

Recent studies in the Iowa State University department of agricultural education and studies indicate the factors most important in influencing the status of women in agricultural careers are experience, education and mentoring. The results of a mail survey of 200 agribusiness people in the Des Moines area showed women tend to be less positive than men about career opportunities for women in the agriculture industry. The study also showed that while women are advancing into upper management positions in the agriculture industry, equitable pay between women and men is still a concern. Recent emphasis on career opportunities for women in agriculture indicates they are taking advantage of the opportunities and are beginning to reach salary equity in professional agriculture careers. Contact Robert Martin, agricultural education and studies, (515) 294-0896; or Susan Thompson, Ag Communications, (515) 294-0705.

Muscle loss during aging has a major impact on quality of life. Enhancing the quality of protein the elderly consume could slow muscle loss, says Paul Flakoll, a nutritional physiologist and director of the Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition at Iowa State University. This fall, Flakoll will begin a two-year, $850,000 study funded by the National Institutes of Health to measure how protein is metabolized in 80 seniors. "We're looking at specific amino acids, which are building blocks of proteins, that may enhance the quality of protein intake enough to blunt muscle loss," he said. "Preliminary data suggest that, particularly in women, supplementation with specific amino acids improves the overall potential for protein synthesis and will have positive effects on the elderly's muscle mass, strength and ability to perform simple physical activities." In the study, one group will receive an amino acid supplement and one group won't. Flakoll and his colleagues will measure body fat and lean muscle mass, hand and leg strength, and protein synthesis and breakdown. They'll also make estimates of function, like counting how many times a participant can stand up and sit down in 30 seconds. The Center for Designing Foods to Improve Nutrition is a research center of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, College of Agriculture and the Plant Sciences Institute. Contact Flakoll, (515) 294-8489; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

Farmers interested in breeding their own corn can learn the basics of plant breeding and take home samples of improved, open-pollinated corn at a field workshop, 9 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 4, near Madrid. "Corn Breeding for Farmer Involvement, High Quality, and Sustainable Systems" will include a presentation by Kendall Lamkey, Iowa State University agronomy professor. "We'd like farmers to get involved in the breeding process, understand what breeders do and participate in plant breeding. Eventually, farmers could breed their own corn," Lamkey said. "We hope this will be a way to get feedback from farmers, too, so we can learn what they'd like us to work on. The workshop helps connect our work to farmers, especially through the corn samples developed at ISU." Other presenters will cover the history of corn, corn traits, breeding cycles, mass selection and open pollination. The workshop will be at the Full Circle Farm of Don Adams and Nan Bonfils near Madrid (directions are available at The workshop is part of a field day hosted by the ISU agronomy department, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and the USDA Agricultural Research Service. There is no charge for the workshop. Participation is limited; pre-registration is requested by calling PFI, (515) 232-5661, ext. 120, by Oct. 2. Afternoon activities, which are open to everyone without registration, include a farm tour and presentations on market gardening, organic certification of field crops, marketing grass-fed beef and living with wildlife. Contact Lamkey, (515) 294-7826; Rick Exner, PFI, (515) 294-5486; or Melea Reicks Licht, Agronomy, (515) 294-1890.

A new series of fact sheets on the Environmental Protection Agency's 2003 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) regulations is available from the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship (LPES) project. Jeff Lorimor, associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, is an Iowa State University representative to the national LPES project team that created an educational curriculum upon which the series is based. Each fact sheet addresses a common producer question or concern about the CAFO regulations, along with a non-technical review of the regulations and recommendations for achieving compliance. Topics include: "Do I need an NPDES permit for my livestock and poultry operation?", "How soon must I apply for an NPDES permit?" and "What is the agricultural storm water exemption?" Most of the fact sheets are available at no charge as individual files in pdf format on the LPES Web site at For a fee, the fact sheet series and original curriculum materials are available in print and electronic versions through Midwest Plan Service at ISU, (800) 562-3618. Contact Lorimor, (515) 294-9806; or Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center, (515) 294-4496.

In order to combat the cattle industry's cyclical nature and uncertain profitability, producers in Iowa and throughout the Midwest have invested in new processing facilities for cows and bulls, or are considering investing in existing facilities or launching new ones. A new Web site can help producers analyze potential facility investments and the feasibility of launching a new facility. Developed and refined by the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) at Iowa State University and Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, the Web site at is an online slaughter cow and bull processing plant pre-feasibility model. The Web site template gives an initial overview of the costs, returns and feasibility of a 400-head/hour cow and bull slaughter plant. "Market conditions, supply and prices, transportation choices, environmental issues, energy costs, federal and state incentives and funding alternatives are some of the variables that must be understood and managed before embarking on a producer-owned processing venture," said Mary Holz-Clause, co-director, AgMRC. "This Web site helps producers understand how these economic factors operate in successful--and less than successful--combinations before they proceed with an in-depth analysis of a specific opportunity." Producers can select different and varying input and output costs and analyze the affect they have on the profitability. The AgMRC is a newly formed national electronic, or virtual, resource center for value-added agricultural groups. It provides independent producers and processors with critical information to build successful value-added agricultural enterprises. Contact AgMRC toll free at (866) 277-5567, by e-mail to or on the Web at Contact Holz-Clause, (515) 294-0648; Phil Kenkel, Oklahoma State, (405) 744-9818; or Christa Hartsook, AgMRC, (515) 294-4430.


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