URBANA, Ill. - Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is partnering with the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) and four other institutions on a program to conduct a USAID Farmer-to-Farmer program that connects farmers in the United States with other farmers in the East African nations of Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda for training and technical assistance.
“Catholic Relief Services will work with grassroots organizations to identify specific farmers in their East Africa Region to assess their needs,” said Rolin Oliver Ferguson, international program coordinator in ACES. “Our role will be to help locate knowledgeable volunteers who will travel to Africa and provide training.”
Ferguson said that the volunteers may be individuals, growers, and producers with specific expertise, Master Gardeners, and U of I Extension personnel.
The CRS Farmer-to-Farmer program proposes to place over 300 volunteers to conduct 500 volunteer assignments over a five-year period. “We have many talented people in Illinois and affiliated with the university who might be willing to contribute and provide training in agriculture, food security, or nutrition,” Ferguson said. The volunteers would travel to East Africa with their expenses for two to three weeks covered by the project.
“The program will use the expertise of U.S. Catholics and non-Catholics to help the impoverished communities we serve in this part of Africa,” said Bruce White, director for the CRS program. White said that this is the first time CRS has been involved in the 28-year-old Farmer-to-Farmer program funded by the U.S. government.
The other four institutions that are involved with the partnership are the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, Foods Resource Bank, National Association of Agricultural Educators, and American Agri-Women.
For more information or to learn more about volunteering for the program, contact Ferguson at 217-300-0203 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top 10 ways to avoid gaining holiday weight
URBANA, Ill. – If you think that a five-pound weight gain is inevitable during the holiday season, you’re wrong. It’s a myth, said Mary Liz Wright, a University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator.
“Actually, according to the National Institute of Health, http://www.nichd.nih.gov, the average American gains just under one pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Wright said.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that most of us never lose that one pound, she said, and if we are overweight, we are more likely to gain five or more pounds during the holiday season.
“What causes this weight gain, you ask? Is it the never-ending parade of goodies brought by well-intentioned co-workers? Is it the lack of sleep caused by too many late-night parties or the time you spend putting some-assembly-required gifts together?” Wright asked.
All of those can be a factor, but the biggest culprit may be our tendency to avoid the gym when we need it the most. A hectic holiday schedule can wreak havoc on a would-be exerciser with the best possible intentions. So what’s a person to do?
Wright offers her top 10 ways of avoiding holiday weight gain:
- Drink plenty of water. It will fill you up and keep you hydrated and energized.
- Fill half your plate with vegetables, even at holiday gatherings.
- Send leftovers home with your guests. Better yet, avoid leftovers altogether by preparing only what your guests will eat at one sitting.
- Eat breakfast every day to maintain energy levels. It will help you avoid temptation by keeping your metabolism revved up.
- Eat a healthy snack just before you leave for a party. You’ll avoid the urge to overeat at the buffet table when you arrive at the party ravenous.
- Try to cut 100 calories from each festive meal—skip the bread, skip the butter, or only choose a small serving of the higher-calorie selections.
- Be conscious of the “Oh, well” trap. Don’t overeat because you’ve already had a cookie at work or because you’re going on a diet after the holidays.
- Watch your alcohol consumption. Even one drink can lower your resistance to tempting foods.
- Find time to exercise. Don’t skip your workout, and if you can, add 15 minutes on days when you know you’ll be indulging in holiday goodies.
- Give yourself a break. Have a cookie—but don’t have 12!
Extension publications Altering Recipes (NCR473) and Adjusting Recipes to Meet Dietary Guidelines (University of Nebraska Extension EC 442) offer these helpful hints when baking for the holidays.
Reduce fat by doing the following:
- For every tablespoon of solid fat, use ¾ tablespoon liquid oil.
- Replace half the fat in a recipe with unsweetened applesauce or prune puree or plain low-fat yogurt.
Reduce sugar by:
- Cut sugar by one-fourth to one-third.
- Use a heat-stable sugar substitute.
Increase whole grain:
- Replace one-third of the flour in a recipe with whole-grain flour.
- Replace salt with herbs or spices.
Finally, Wright offers this healthier version of a classic recipe, gleaned from the American Diabetes Association.
Serving size: 1 slice
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups Splenda® no-calorie sweetener, granulated
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a Bundt pan with butter-flavored cooking spray. Set aside.
- Pour applesauce, molasses, and vegetable oil into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs. Stir well.
- Blend remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix well.
- Add dry ingredients to the applesauce mixture. Stir well.
- Pour cake batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated 350°F oven 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack approximately 20 minutes. Invert cake onto serving plate. Serve warm or cool.
Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories from fat: 45
Total fat: 5g
Saturated fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 35 mg
Sodium: 240 mg
Total carbohydrate: 30 g
Dietary fiber: 1g
Sugar: 13 g
Protein: 3 g
“Take these tips to heart and your heart will be merry but your tummy a little less jiggly after the holidays this year,” Wright said.
Corn used for ethanol production
Date: Nov. 11, 2013
URBANA, Ill. – In the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report (WASDE) released on Nov. 8, the USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board estimated that 4.648 billion bushels of corn were used to produce ethanol and co-products during the 2012-13 marketing year. That estimate is 371 million bushels less than the estimate for the 2010-11 marketing year and 352 million less than estimated use during the 2011-12 marketing year. Domestic ethanol production declined from an estimated 13.796 billion gallons during the 2011-12 corn marketing year to an estimated 12.899 billion gallons last year.
“On the surface, the reasons for the year-over-year decline in ethanol production and corn use in the 2012-13 marketing year are not obvious,” said University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good. “Based on estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic ethanol consumption (including small quantities of denaturant) was nearly identical in the two years, totaling 12.933 billion gallons during the 2011-12 corn marketing year and 12.991 billion gallons last year. The decline in ethanol production then was not associated with a decline in domestic consumption. The decline reflected a year-over-year change in the ethanol trade balance and a change in ethanol inventories,” he said.
During the 2011-12 marketing year, imports were a modest 293 million gallons and exports were quite large at 1.095 billion gallons. The large positive trade of ethanol reflected, in part, reduced Brazilian ethanol production and exports stemming from smaller supplies and higher prices of sugar. During the 2012-13 marketing year, U.S. ethanol trade was balanced. Estimated imports totaled 558 million gallons, and estimated exports totaled 567 million gallons. The difference of 793 million gallons in the trade balance between the two years represents about 285 million bushels of corn.
Good reported that estimated ethanol stocks at the end of the 2011-12 corn marketing year were 62 million gallons larger than stocks at the beginning of the year. An estimated 22 million bushels of corn then were used as a result of the buildup in inventories. In contrast, ethanol stocks at the end of the 2012-13 marketing year were 101 million gallons smaller than stocks at the beginning of the year. The drawdown in stocks replaced about 37 million bushels of corn to produce ethanol. The difference in ethanol stock changes during the two marketing years represented about 59 million bushels of corn. When added to the difference of 285 million bushels of corn represented by the change in the ethanol trade balance, the total is very close to the 352-million-bushel decline in the USDA estimate of corn use for the two years.
“Much has been made of the recent surge in domestic ethanol production and the re-opening of some ethanol plants,” Good said. “Based on weekly estimates from the EIA, ethanol production in the first two months of the 2013-14 corn marketing year of 2.226 billion gallons was about 7.5 percent larger than production during the first two months of the 2012-13 marketing year. The increase, however, may not imply any substantial increase in domestic ethanol consumption, but instead may reflect changes in net trade and stock levels. Imports totaled only 23.5 million gallons in September and were zero in October. Export estimates for those two months are not yet available but would have totaled about 100 million gallons if the August pace was maintained,” he said.
Stocks of ethanol were about 75 million gallons less at the end of October than at the end of August, Good added. Domestic consumption in the two months may have totaled about 2.225 billion gallons, a year-over-year increase of about 2 percent. Estimates of domestic consumption for September will be available with EIA estimates of production, trade, and stocks to be released in the last week of November.
“Importantly, estimated ethanol production during the first two months of the 2013-14 marketing year was 3.2 percent less than during the first two months of the 2011-12 marketing year,” Good said.
For the current marketing year, the USDA projects corn used for ethanol and co-product production at 4.9 billion bushels. “Actual consumption of corn could be somewhat different than that projection, depending on domestic consumption of ethanol, net ethanol trade, and the change in ethanol stock levels,” Good said. “Domestic ethanol consumption will be influenced by biofuels policy and by ethanol prices. Ethanol prices will in turn be influenced by corn prices.
“It is generally assumed that domestic ethanol consumption will be at least as large as in the past three years, near the 10 percent blend wall of 13 billion gallons,” Good said. “However, if the EPA reduces the total and renewable biofuels mandates for 2014, as has been rumored, domestic consumption could be less than 13 billion gallons if obligated parties choose to use more of the Renewable Identification Numbers (RIN) stocks to meet the renewable mandate. That choice would likely be influenced by an assessment of the risk of EPA rule making being overturned by the courts. On the other hand, maintaining the renewable mandates at higher levels and/or low corn and ethanol prices could stimulate E85 consumption and push domestic ethanol production above the 10 percent blend wall,” he said.
Good said that ethanol trade will also be influenced by biofuels policy as the size of the reduction in the advanced biofuels mandate for 2014 could influence the demand for imported ethanol. Under blend-wall constraints, ethanol imports substitute for domestic ethanol production.
“A better indication of which ethanol and corn scenario will unfold will be available when EPA releases preliminary rule making for 2014,” Good said. “For the corn market, the implications may be more important for future marketing years than for the current year since it will influence the magnitude of needed corn production.”
ACE Research Celebration
The Department of ACE will be holding its and ACE RESEARCH CELEBRATION Friday, November 8 in the ACES Library. Students who have completed their second year research papers will present their work at this event. Please plan to attend to support these students and to enjoy the presentation of some high quality research. Schedule is attached.
Researchers suggest plan to address hypoxia in Gulf of Mexico
URBANA, Ill. – Despite a 12-year action plan calling for reducing the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico, little progress has been made, and there is no evidence that nutrient loading to the Gulf has decreased during this period. University of Illinois researchers have identified some of the biophysical and social barriers to progress and propose a way forward.
“We are suggesting that a partnership of researchers work closely with farmers to develop the suite of practices that are needed to reduce nutrient losses from agricultural fields,” said U of I biogeochemist Mark David who has been studying nitrate loss since 1993. “Working with farmers is essential to develop realistic practices on real-world farms—where the constraints that influence management are present—to document the effectiveness, and to communicate the environmental and socioeconomic results regionally.”
“Biophysical and Social Barriers Restrict Water Quality Improvements in the Mississippi River Basin” was published in the Nov. 5 issue of Environmental Science and Technology. The opinion piece was authored by researchers Mark B. David, Courtney G. Flint, Gregory F. McIsaac, Lowell E. Gentry, Mallory K. Dolan, and George F. Czapar.
David said that the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic zone that was measured in July 2013 was 5,800 square miles (nearly the size of Connecticut), the result of riverine losses of nitrate and total phosphorus from the Mississippi River Basin. The goal of the 2008 action plan is to reduce the zone to a five-year running average of 2,000 square miles by 2015 and calls for a 45 percent reduction in total nitrogen and phosphorus, but these goals have not been met.
“Much of the nitrate that leads to the hypoxic zone formation is lost from millions of acres of fields across the upper Midwest, where drainage has been accelerated by a variety of agricultural practices,” David said. “Many flat agricultural fields are artificially drained with perforated plastic tubing or older clay drainage tiles to allow timely field work and enhance crop growth. There are now tens of millions of acres of tile-drained fields with large losses of nitrate, even with the recommended best management practices being followed,” he said.
According to the researchers, the combination of expanded and patterned tile drainage, increased fertilizer use due to more corn production, and more frequent high-intensity precipitation events all contribute to greater losses of nutrients and therefore a large hypoxic zone. This occurs even though nutrient balances (inputs minus outputs) have generally improved across the upper Midwest.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) promotes and provides technical information on a wide array of techniques that can be used to reduce nutrient losses, including fertilizer rate, timing and placement; cover crops; nitrification inhibiters; water table management; tile bioreactors; constructed wetlands; buffer strips; and conversion of row crops to CRP or perennial crops. David said that unfortunately, few of these methods are used on tile-drained fields because they impose substantial costs and/or risks on the producer without increasing crop production.
“For example, end-of-pipe practices such as tile bioreactors or constructed wetlands have substantial construction costs, require land to be taken out of production, and provide no production benefit to the producer,” David said.
The researchers noted that important constraints are in the socioeconomic realm and relate to factors influencing adoption of farm conservation practices.
“Producers view themselves as stewards who care for the land, but they need to make a living from it,” said rural sociologist Courtney Flint. “Not only can they not see the loss of nutrients, they are disconnected physically from the downstream effects. Stewardship objectives may be strong, but they can be trumped or complicated by other economic, social, and environmental drivers.
“Additionally, there is a growing sense among farmers that policy makers are too far removed from the realities of farming,” Flint added. “This leads to an ever-widening trust gap that is a major barrier to effective collaboration and policy development for water-quality improvement in the Mississippi River Basin and beyond.”
The researchers believe that having farmers actively participate with researchers to develop realistic suites of practices could find widespread regional acceptance, but they realize that real-world, on-farm longitudinal studies of nutrient loss reduction practices will require considerable funding for cost-sharing practice development and implementation.
NRES Special Departmental Seminar by Dr. Carmen Ugarte
S-509 Turner Hall
NRES Special Seminar Presented by Dr. Carmen Ugarte
Title: Biologically Mediated Relationships: Implications for Soil Resource Management
The overarching goal of land stewardship programs is to promote sustainable management. Achieving sustainable management will depend upon our ability to optimize soil functioning and environmental quality in such a way that production goals do not compromise the environment. Work on soil quality has emphasized the importance of promoting soil functions that are regulated by soil organic matter and microbial activity as a key component of soil resource management. Subsequently, microbial communities are influenced by organisms in higher trophic levels and so deepening our understanding of relationships between soil quality and the trophic interactions within the soil food web will support development of frameworks for testing that will help farmers manage soils with sustainable production practices. This presentation will discuss a variety of approaches used to understand how farming practices influence soil biology and function and consider how this information could be made useful to farmers.
Carmen Ugarte was born and raised in southern Bolivia. She received her BS in Agricultural Engineering from Zamorano University, Honduras, MSc and PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences from the University of Illinois with a focus on soil biology and ecology. She has been working in NRES as a postdoctoral research scientist evaluating the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Management Tool and is a co-PI on a NIFA-funded project evaluating soil quality as a result of different grain farming practices in Illinois.
University of Illinois Students Win Awards at State PAS Conference
Bloomington, ILLINOIS – Students from the University of Illinois Post-secondary Agricultural Student (PAS) organization competed in the Illinois PAS Fall Conference on Friday, October 25, 2013, at the Illinois Farm Bureau Building in Bloomington, Illinois. Students competed in career and skill based areas related to various agricultural professions.
UIUC students who won were:
- Josh Donoho, 1st place in Agriculture Sales Employment Interview
- Erica Navis, 1st place in Dairy Employment Interview
- Kiersten Kasey, 2nd place in Agriculture Communications Employment Interview
- Leon Peters, 2rd place in Fertilizers and Agriculture Chemicals Employment Interview
- Liz Harfst, 2nd place in Agriculture Education Employment Interview
- Jenna Sudeth, 2nd place in Agribusiness Administrative Employment Interview
Students who participate in Employment Interviews have to submit a cover letter, resume, and job application. Students then have a fifteen-minute with the judge of the specified interview area.
Students who placed first or second in their categories will advance to the National PAS Conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota, in March.
Jacob Dickey and Betsy Kueker also participated in the Illinois Farm Bureau discussion meet. Topics discussed were: (a) How should Farmer Bureau engage farmer/rancher members, representing all types and kinds of operations to work together to better promote a more positive image of agriculture?; (b) How do we encourage young farmers and ranchers to continue to be involved in Farm Bureau and how can young producers lead even if they don’t hold elected positions on boards?; (c) What are the best practices for youth working on farms and ranches to ensure their safety and provide them learning opportunities in the area of agriculture production?
Dickey placed second and will receive an all expense paid trip to the 2013 IAA Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, on December 7-10, 2013. He will also receive an all expense paid trip to represent the Illinois Farm Bureau and compete in the National Collegiate Discussion Meet in Virginia Beach, Virginia, on February 7-10, 2014.
The University of Illinois is also represented on the state PAS level by two state officers. Brianna Harmon and Clayton Carley, juniors in Agricultural Education, help plan and host two state conferences. They are also members of the Illinois PAS Board of Directors. Both will be retiring from their respective offices in February 2014.
The PAS Organization “aspires to be the premier leadership and career development organization serving college agriculture students”. National PAS is approved as one of the eleven career and technical student organizations by the U.S. Department of Education. Illinois PAS “provides opportunities for individual growth, leadership and career preparation”.
Ken Rinkenberger, an agricultural communications graduate, grew up on a corn and soybean farm, with a view of the world not much bigger than his bedroom window.
“The first thing the University of Illinois did was expand my window and expose a much larger world to me,” Ken says. “With 35,000 students and being part of the Big Ten, I could envision a future much larger than anything I had ever imagined. With only 50 students in agricultural communications, the program was like a small village within a university that was like a big city. I immediately felt at home.”
“When I was a sophomore, I went with the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) to Chicago for a few days to visit WGN, the Chicago Tribune and Leo Burnett, a leading advertising agency,” Ken says. “I fell in love with the advertising field and decided to focus on that route.”
Over the past 40 years, Ken worked in many communications sectors, including advertising and marketing services. He also served in many product and business management roles and believes root skills in communications enabled him to be successful in each of his career facets.
“I got confidence and direction at Illinois,” Ken says. “And I was fortunate to learn from great faculty how to communicate in an effective manner, which helped me throughout my career, whether directly in advertising or marketing services or indirectly in business leadership environments.
Ken believes the U of I has one of the most elite programs in the country for agricultural communications. He says Dr. James Evans was the magnet that attracted him—and many others—to the college. “He was amazing, vibrant, inspirational, and like a second father,” Ken says. “He took incredible personal interest in all of his students. He gave us his full attention and inspired us.”
“Once I was committed to my career path, I knew I was getting the best education in the country. I believe Illinois was and is the best.”