AGRICULTURE, VETERINARY MEDICINE AND NATURAL RESOURCES NEWS FROM IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
FAMILY-FARM BANKRUPTCY LAW WILL EXPIRE SEPT. 30
A federal bankruptcy law designed for family farmers is due to expire Sept. 30. Since it was first enacted in 1986, the Chapter 12 bankruptcy law has been extended three times. Agricultural economist Neil Harl conducted surveys in 1987 and 1994 that indicated the law was beneficial for farmers, primarily because it encourages negotiations between borrowers and lenders. Harl said there is a push to make the law permanent. Contact Harl, (515) 294-6354, or Barbara McManus, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0707.
DOES IT PAY TO GROW GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS?
Whether or not Iowa farmers planted genetically modified crops in 1998, their bottom lines were basically the same, according to an analysis of 1998 farm costs and returns. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture funded the analysis of the USDA's annual cropping practices survey. "Based on a cross-sectional examination of Iowa cropping practices in 1998, genetically modified crops provided farmers with no significant difference in returns," said Mike Duffy, agricultural economist and Leopold Center associate director. Duffy's analysis can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/99-3gmoduffy.html. Contact Duffy at (515) 294-6160, or Anne Larson, Leopold Center, (515) 294-0626.
BATS: THE TEENAGE DRIVERS OF THE AUTUMN SKIES
With cooler temperatures, homeowners are discovering unexpected and often unwelcome houseguests. Bats follow air currents and often get pulled into chimneys. Young bats also like to explore, says Jim Pease, extension wildlife specialist. He compares them to teenagers learning how to drive. "They're learning how to get around and sometimes end up in unexpected places," he says. People often see more bats in the fall because it's breeding season for some species and because they're eating more to prepare for hibernation. For the most part, bats are harmless, but there have been concerns with some bats in Ames testing positive for rabies. Pease says the best way to keep bats out of the house is to find out where they get in and seal the opening. Contact Pease, (515) 294-7429, or Megan Kuhn, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-2957.
FARM SAFETY & HEALTH WEEK: AG REMAINS A DANGEROUS JOB
The concern for farm safety began during World War II, when the National Safety Council was charged to reduce farm injuries that interfered with the production of agricultural commodities that aided the war effort. In 1999, the 56th year of the observance of National Farm Safety and Health Week, agriculture remains one the nation's most dangerous occupations, according to ISU Extension agricultural engineer Chuck Schwab, who keeps tabs on Iowa's farm-related deaths and injuries. September 19-25 is Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week, and Sept. 22 is Iowa Farm Safety and Health Day for Children and Youth. Contact Schwab, (515) 294-6360, or Laura Miller, Extension Communications, (515) 294-5272.
FARM SAFETY & HEALTH WEEK: NEW TAPE MAY PREVENT MISHAPS
Road safety is a critical issue for farmers as people move to rural subdivisions, farm equipment gets larger and farm operations include fields in numerous locations. ISU Extension agricultural engineer Mark Hanna can talk about a new type of reflective and fluorescent tape that can make farm vehicles more visible both during the day and at night. September 19-25 is Iowa Farm Safety and Health Week, and Sept. 22 is Iowa Farm Safety and Health Day for Children and Youth. Contact Hanna, (515) 294-6360, or Laura Miller, Extension Communications, (515) 294-5272.
FARM SAFETY & HEALTH WEEK: ISU STUDENTS ORGANIZE CAMP
Iowa State students are organizing a Farm Safety Day Camp for young people, ages 9 to 15, on Saturday, Sept. 18, in Kildee Hall on the Ames campus. ISU faculty and staff and industry professionals will give presentations on safety issues related to animals, farm equipment, first aid, pesticides, small engines (chainsaws, ATVs, lawnmowers), grain bins and electricity. The event is sponsored by Sigma Alpha and several other ISU student clubs, the College of Agriculture, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative and Dow AgriSciences. Contact Angie Pithan, (515) 268-1843; Lindsay Searle, (515) 663-9892; or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
MORE LEARNING ABOUT BIOLOGY ONLINE
More students around Iowa are learning about biology and other life sciences through ISU online courses. Project Bio offers the courses via the Internet. The project started in the fall of 1996 with two classes and 29 students. Last spring more than 500 students were enrolled in 10 courses in biology, genetics, zoology, microbiology, economics and others. Project Bio director Tom Ingebritsen, a faculty member in zoology and genetics, says students like the accessibility of materials on the Internet and the flexibility to work on a course anytime. "All of the materials and lectures can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week," says Ingebritsen. Students interact online with classmates and instructors through e-mail, chat rooms and bulletin boards. Project Bio students may be on-campus, in high schools or in their homes. Some Iowa community colleges are partnering with ISU to offer Project Bio courses to their students. ISU provides lectures, support materials and technical support, while the community colleges supply on-site instructors. ISU receives a licensing fee for the use of Project Bio courseware. Contact Ingebritsen, (515) 294-9432, or Megan Kuhn, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-2957.
SNEAK PEEK OF BOOK ON PEOPLE SUSTAINING THE LAND
Iowa State entomology professor Jerry DeWitt and professional photographer Cynthia Vagnetti teamed up to document the experiences of the nation's farm families who are using sustainable agriculture practices. They interviewed and photographed families in 20 states, traveling more than 45,000 miles. They are assembling their materials for a book, "People Sustaining the Land." A preview of their work can be seen on The Digital Journalist web site at: http://digitaljournalist.org/issue9907/gift_into.htm. Look for the "Gifts and Graces of the Land" link. Contact DeWitt, (515) 294-1923, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
COOL CLOUDS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES
Agronomy professor Richard Carlson has taken his lifelong love of clouds to the World Wide Web. Carlson, who this fall is beginning a phased retirement from his faculty duties at ISU, has taken photos of unusual and beautiful clouds for many years and used them in the introductory meteorology course he taught. The Web site opens with Carlson's favorite cloud picture -- one that resembles the Energizer bunny. Also on the site are photos Carlson has taken of sunsets, ice-coated trees and springtime on the ISU campus. The Web address for "Cool Clouds for Kids of All Ages" is: http://pals.agron.iastate.edu/carlson/. Contact Carlson, (515) 294-9868, or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0705.
VISIT THE IOWA STATE TENT AT THE FARM PROGRESS SHOW
The Iowa State University exhibit at the 1999 Farm Progress Show, Sept. 28-30, near Amana, features more than 30 displays and field plots, focusing on topics such as value-added agriculture and conversations across the generations. A new feature this year is the ISU hoop building, including educational programming, live radio broadcasts and listening sessions, where ISU Extension staff can get feedback from producers, agricultural leaders, farm families and agribusiness professionals on the current status of rural communities and farming. Contact Wendy Wintersteen, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension, (515) 294-7801, or Elaine Edwards, Extension Communications, (515) 294-5168.
'SAND COUNTY ALMANAC' MARKS 50th ANNIVERSARY
October marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac," a book that outlined the Iowa native's "land ethic" philosophy that has guided the modern environmental movement. Dennis Keeney, director of ISU's Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, will participate in a national conference to examine Leopold's legacy Oct. 5-7 in Madison, Wis. More information about the book and the author, for whom the Leopold Center is named, can be found on the Web at: http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/fall99leoletterindex.html. Contact Keeney, (515) 294-3711, or Anne Larson, Leopold Center, (515) 294-0626.
USDA TO NAME BUILDING IN HONOR OF CARVER
Iowa State University, Simpson College and Tuskegee University will help honor George Washington Carver at U.S. Department of Agriculture events, Oct. 4-8. The USDA will dedicate a new Beltsville, Md., research facility in Carver's name. Carver was educated at Simpson and ISU, and was on the faculty at ISU and Tuskegee. The three institutions will have displays at some of the events. Alumni from the three schools will be invited to a reception Oct. 7 at the USDA's Whitten Building. Contact Eric Hoiberg, associate dean, College of Agriculture, (515) 294-6614, or Karen Bolluyt, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-5616.
FIELD DAYS FOR CORN WITH INTERNATIONAL TRAITS
Two upcoming field days will showcase recent work in a national project on corn germ plasm. The Germ plasm Enhancement of Maize (GEM) project is a cooperative effort of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, land-grant universities and private industry. The project is studying corn from other parts of the world that may provide pest-resistance genes, could lead to increased yields and may contain quality traits to meet new market demands. The first field day will be held 1 to 5 p.m., Sept. 22, on an ISU research farm south of Ames. The second will be held 1:30 to 5 p.m., Sept. 27, near Harlan. At both field days, plots will include a demonstration of breeding progress in traditional Corn Belt and new materials. Hybrids using lines with unusual value-added traits also will be on display. The GEM project also will be highlighted at the Farm Progress Show in Amana, Sept. 28-30. Contact Linda Pollak, GEM project coordinator, (515) 294-7831, or Susan Thompson, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0705.
ECONOMISTS STUDYING THE ENVIRONMENT TO MEET IN AMES
ISU is organizing the first Heartland Environmental and Resource Economics workshop, Sept. 19-21, in Ames. This is the first meeting of Midwestern academics, professional economists and graduate students who are studying economics related to environmental issues. Attendees will present technical reports on their work and learn what their Midwestern colleagues are doing. Research includes studies on wetlands, outdoor recreation areas, water quality and nonpoint-source pollution. The meeting is supported by ISU, the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. Contact Cathy Kling, Economics, (515) 294-5767, or Brian Meyer, Agriculture Information, (515) 294-0706.
WEB SITE TO HELP FARMERS WITH CROP MARKETING STRATEGIES
The Center for Agricultural and Rural Development has launched an interactive Web site (http://www.card.iastate.edu) to help farmers understand the risks and rewards associated with alternative marketing strategies for corn and soybeans. Producers can access the site, input their county name and crop information, and receive county and crop loan rates, posted county prices and per-bushel loan deficiency payment (LDP) figures. In addition, the site will provide information that can help producers decide whether it is better to store or sell their crops at harvest. Contact Bruce Babcock, CARD, (515) 294-6785, or Judith Pim, CARD, (515) 294-6257.
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