News Service

December 1997

Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Resources News from Iowa State University

Consumers will buy irradiated meat, if the price is right

Will consumers buy irradiated meat? In a collaborative project, Iowa State and Kansas State University surveyed Manhattan, Kan., residents and found that 87 percent would buy irradiated chicken if it was priced 10 percent below non-irradiated chicken. If it was priced 10 percent higher, 31 percent would still choose it. The researchers also sold irradiated chicken breasts in two Manhattan grocery stores, varying the price over four weeks. When priced 10 percent below its non-irradiated counterpart, the chicken breasts accounted for more than 60 percent of sales. When the price was 10 percent higher, irradiated chicken's market share was 25 percent. When prices were the same, irradiated and non-irradiated chicken sold the same amount. ISU irradiation specialist Dennis Olson said the results showed that prices drive buying decisions, and that some consumers are willing to pay extra for irradiation's food safety benefit. Contact Olson at (515) 294-1055 or Brian Meyer, Ag Information, (515) 294- 0706.

Irradiation's next step: USDA guidelines

Now that the Food and Drug Administration has approved irradiation for red meat, it's up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set irradiation and labeling guidelines before products can be sold. George Beran, a microbiologist at the ISU College of Veterinary Medicine, said the USDA must determine irradiation doses for different types of meat products. Irradiation levels also must be established for fresh and frozen meats. Beran also said he envisions nursing homes to be among the first to use irradiated meats. The elderly and young children are most susceptible to food-borne pathogens. Beran is the director of the Food Safety Consortium, of which ISU is a member. He also is the director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Food Safety, located at ISU. Contact Beran at (515) 294-7630 or Steve Jones, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

Putting variety in Iowa's Christmas tree industry

Each year, Americans purchase and decorate 37 million natural Christmas trees. There are nearly 200 Christmas tree growers in Iowa, with Scotch, red and white pines grown most often. In an effort to expand those options, ISU extension forester Paul Wray has organized a research project to grow other pine varieties on seven Iowa farms. Wray says fresh, Iowa-grown Christmas trees offer lots of advantages. He can talk about those advantages, his research project and the Iowa Christmas tree industry. Contact Wray at (515) 294-1168 or Susan Thompson, Ag Information, at (515) 294-0705.

Students learn ins and outs of embryo transfer

ISU students are learning about the cutting edge of livestock genetic improvement in an embryo transfer course that is believed to be the only one in the country offered for undergraduates. Students get hands-on experience with techniques to collect, preserve and transfer embryos from cattle. Instructor Curt Youngs says the goal isn't to train students to become embryo transfer specialists, but to give them information they can use for careers in livestock production. "We discuss the genetic and economic benefits and risks of using this technology in livestock operations," he said. The animal science course is offered in collaboration with the College of Veterinary Medicine. Contact Youngs at (515) 294-5541 or Brian Meyer, Ag Information, at (515) 294-0706.

Wood made with corn and soybeans

ISU researchers are developing ways to make fiberboard used in furniture with recycled wood wastes and cornstalks or switchgrass held together by soybean-based adhesives. Besides the new uses for agricultural products, the technology would reduce the amount of waste wood going into landfills. A two-year study funded by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Landfill Alternative Assistance Program will examine processing methods for recycling wood waste, find the optimal mix of fiber types and soybean-based adhesive, produce fiberboards and evaluate them for furniture and cabinet making. Researchers will work with the R.S. Bacon Veneer Co., Grundy Center, to transfer the technology. Contact Dan Curry, ISU Extension, (515) 294-1938, Monlin Kuo, forestry, (515) 294-1225, or Ed Adcock, Ag Information, (515) 294-2314.

Iowa buffer initiative grows out of ISU research

A new project was announced Dec. 3 to increase awareness of long- term land management practices and how these can improve water quality. The Trees Forever Iowa Buffer Initiative will focus on developing demonstration projects along streams and rivers using trees and grasses known as riparian buffer systems. This system was developed by the agroecology issue team of ISU's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at a research site along Bear Creek in central Iowa. Nine landowners have worked with the researchers along a 10-mile stretch of the creek to install trees, shrubs and grasses to slow water movement from farm fields. The work at Bear Creek is nationally recognized and has contributed to the research base for a national conservation buffer initiative. Contact Richard Schultz, (515) 294-7602, Tom Isenhart, (515) 294-8056, Joe Colletti, (515) 294-4912, all in the ISU forestry department, or Susan Thompson, Ag Information, (515) 294-0705.

Coming Events

Iowa's Pork Industry -- Dollars and Scents

The ongoing debate about Iowa's pork industry is expected to continue in the coming months, as policy makers at the national, state and local levels discuss current laws and future strategies. To help provide research-based background information for these discussions, ISU is sponsoring a day-long program Jan. 6 on the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). Titled "Iowa's Pork Industry -- Dollars and Scents," the ICN broadcast will be available at 28 sites. New information about what rural Iowans think of the industry and what production trends are occurring, plus a review of waste management options and an analysis of policy alternatives, will be shared by ISU economists. Four 30- minute breaks will provide time for local discussions. Contact John Miranowski, economics, (515) 294-6741, John Lawrence, economics, (515) 294-6290, or Susan Thompson, Ag Information, (515) 294-0705.

Learning the cattle marketing business

The Fed-Cattle Market Simulator is a computer-based cattle trading system designed to help cattle feeders gain a better understanding of the cattle marketing business. During two-day workshops, participants take on the role of either a packing plant manager or a feedlot operator. Teams receive computerized profit and loss statements after each trading session. Four workshops are scheduled so far this winter, with the first Dec. 17-18 at the Starlite Village in Ft. Dodge. Others will be in Sioux Falls, S.D., Jan. 13-14; Cascade, Jan. 15-16; and the Armstrong Research and Demonstration Farm near Atlantic, Feb. 20 and 27. Contact instructors Tim Eggers, area extension farm management specialist, (712) 542-5171, or John Lawrence, economics, (515) 294-6290, or Susan Thompson, Ag Information, (515) 294-0705.


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