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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director, (515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

Agriculture, veterinary medicine and natural resources news from Iowa State University

05-02-05

STUDY ANALYZES FACTORS BEHIND COUNTY ECONOMIC GROWTH

Rural amenities, state and local tax burdens, population, amount of primary agriculture activity and demographics -- these factors have the largest impact on county economic growth, according to new research from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD). The analysis used economic growth models and data from 734 counties in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. The research also used geographical information systems (GIS) software to map growth spots in those states.

The study found that counties with a heavy agricultural presence have not fared as well as less agriculturally dependent counties, although counties that increased their value-added agriculture (measured as growth in livestock sales receipts) enjoyed additional economic growth. Also, increased livestock production must be weighed against availability of recreational amenities, which are a significant growth factor and may become even more important as the demand for outdoor recreation increases with growing incomes, leisure time and population. Counties with an older population experienced slower economic growth, further eroding tax bases and services. Higher local tax burdens had a negative impact on growth; although local tax burdens can be reduced, this will affect the level of local services. Further, the researchers found that higher local government salaries relative to a county's population had a negative effect on county growth. Counties can reduce costs through consolidation, reorganization, and regionalization of services, but while this will save money, it will also reduce local employment opportunities. For more information, see "An Analysis of Regional Economic Growth in the U.S. Midwest," available at http://www.card.iastate.edu. Contact Bruce Babcock, CARD, (515) 294-6785; or Sandy Clarke, CARD communications, (515) 294-6257.

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSISTANCE FOR CATTLE FEEDLOT PRODUCERS

There are more than 1 million cattle on feed and another 1 million beef cows in Iowa. Several programs can help producers protect ground and surface water quality near their cattle operations, including one that provides assistance in developing an Environmental Management System (EMS). John Lawrence, ISU Extension livestock economist and director of the Iowa Beef Center, says the EMS model helps cattle producers identify strengths and weaknesses in their operations. "It's a continuous process that follows a practical approach of 'plan, implement, check and improve.' Cattle producers are proud to be good environmental stewards, and this is a way to prove it," he says. Lawrence says spring is the perfect time to work on an EMS plan. "The rainy spring season is the time to check feedlots and see how they can be improved. There are cattle in those lots now, so it's the best time to see how they're working. When the pens are empty in August, the work that was planned this spring can be done," he says.

Help is available. Producers can contact their county extension office to get connected with a livestock specialist or ag engineer who can help with an initial assessment and provide technical assistance on feedlot design and manure management. Technical assistance and cost-sharing funds are available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. A new state program, which began May 1, will provide low-interest loans for water-quality protection work. More information is available at http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/content/environment.htm. Contact Lawrence, (515) 294-6290; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0705.

ISU VET MED COLLEGE HELPS FOOD ANIMAL VETS STAY CURRENT

When determining how to proceed with a patient's care, most veterinarians balance clinical experience with research information. But staying current through traditional methods -- like journals or courses -- can be inefficient. Veterinarians need the information 'just in time,' not 'just in case,' says Dr. Mike Apley, Eugene and Linda Lloyd Endowed Professor in Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Apley and faculty colleagues are studying a new approach to the animal disease diagnosis and treatment called evidence-based medicine. "In production animal medicine, evidence-based medicine involves combining practical experience with research data to meet animal health and production goals shared between the veterinarian and the client," Apley said. Practicing veterinarians need timely access to concise summaries of available data that applies to a health or production challenge they face at the moment. Practitioners also need expert evaluation of the validity and applicability of the available studies. "Our past experience creates a bias," Apley said. "We need to constantly evaluate our experience-based knowledge by examining the best evidence available." The veterinary medicine college is working toward being a more effective resource for practitioners in this area. Systematic review of the available data and critical appraisal of the methods with which it was generated are key components of what the college will provide. Contact Apley, (515) 294-6462; Dr. Annette O'Connor, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, (515) 294-8791; Dr. Rich Evans, veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine, (515) 294-3836; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

AGREEMENT WITH SOUTH KOREAN UNIVERSITY LEADS TO EXCHANGES

An agreement between Iowa State University's College of Agriculture and Yeungnam University's College of Natural Resources in South Korea has led to several exchanges and programs. One is a dual degree program that allows students to attend Yeungnam University for two years before transferring to Iowa State for another one or two years. This dual degree program is the first of its kind for ISU's College of Agriculture. Two Yeungnam students -- a horticulture major and ag business major -- arrived at Iowa State in January and will be in Ames for at least one year. Another part of this exchange agreement will bring a group of 24 Yeungnam students to Iowa State for three weeks in July. The students participate in a class on U.S. agriculture and natural resource management taught by Richard Schultz and Joe Colletti, professors in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management. In summer 2004, Schultz and Colletti led seven ISU students on a three-week study abroad trip to South Korea that focused on natural resources and agriculture. They will take a similar trip in summer 2006. Contact Shelley Taylor, College of Agriculture Study Abroad Office, (515) 294-5393; Schultz, (515) 294-7602; Colletti, (515) 294-4912; or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Communications, (515) 294-0705.

Of note

Findings from a study of the factors behind county economic growth and information on programs to assist cattle operations with environmental protection are in the May Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine News from ISU.

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