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Illinois Water Conference Oct. 14-15

Published September 2, 2014
Water drop

URBANA, Ill. - Researchers, agency personnel, and students from across Illinois will come together in October to present the latest research on issues affecting the state’s water resources and systems during the 2014 Illinois Water Conference. Held Oct. 14-15 at the Illini Union at the University of Illinois, the conference will feature sessions on key issues, such as monitoring, climate change, and emerging contaminants. 

The biennial conference, hosted by the Illinois Water Resource Center (IWRC), will kick off with a panel discussion on the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy, which will be presented to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency later this fall after a public comment period. Representatives from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and the Illinois Farm Bureau will introduce nutrient management practices laid out in the strategy for both point and non-point sources and discuss how they will help improve local water quality and address hypoxic conditions in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition to plenary and technical sessions, the conference will include a student poster session where undergraduate and graduate researchers will be available to answer questions and discuss their work one-on-one. Student attendees interested in water resource careers can also attend a career panel on Oct. 15 to learn more about careers in engineering, biology, planning, and public outreach.

Participants are also invited to the Illinois Water Resource Center 50th Anniversary Dinner on Oct. 14. The event celebrates IWRC’s ongoing efforts to overcome water resource challenges through improved research, outreach, and education. 

For more information and to register, visit An early registration discount is available through Sept. 15. Students are encouraged to apply for scholarship funding. Particular consideration will be given to students presenting posters.

Illinois Water 2014 is sponsored by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the Illinois Chapter for the American Water Resources Association, the Illinois Farm Bureau, the Illinois State Water Survey, the Illinois State Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Illinois Water Authority Association, the Environmental Hydrology and Hydraulic Engineering Program at the University of Illinois, and Illinois EPA.



Rebuilding U.S. animal industries

Published September 2, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – According to Purdue University Extension economist Chris Hurt, in 2007 meat consumption per person in the U.S. was 219 pounds for the big four: beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. Current USDA estimates for this year are down to 199 pounds per person, nearly a 10 percent decrease in seven years. Out of the 20-pound total reduction, beef was down 11 pounds, pork was down 5 pounds, and chicken and turkey were down about 2 pounds each.  In percentage terms, consumption of beef has been down 17 percent, followed by 10 percent for both pork and turkey, and a more modest 3 percent for chicken.

The question Hurt asks is: Why would U.S. consumers be eating so much less meat?

“Some argue that diets have changed and U.S. citizens have made lifestyle changes that include less meat and that the new norm will be the current smaller per capita levels of consumption,” Hurt said. “There is probably some truth to the lifestyle change hypothesis, but other factors are more important.

“Retail meat prices had to rise sharply for animal producers to cover the much higher costs of feed from the 2006 to the 2012 crops,” Hurt said. “When feed prices rose, animal producer returns dropped toward losses. Over a period of years, those losses caused some liquidation of herds, which in turn reduced supply and increased consumer prices. Retail prices of beef and pork in 2014 are about 40 percent higher than in 2007. This rate of increase was about 5 percent per year, far above the general inflation rate. People simply eat less meat when prices rise quickly. Retail chicken prices, in contrast, were up a far smaller 18 percent since 2007,” he said.

Hurt said that high feed and forage prices forced a national beef cow reduction of 12 percent from 2007 to 2014. In addition to high feed costs, Southern Plains producers had the additional problem of widespread drought. As a result of the double whammy, producers liquidated 21 percent of the beef cows in that region, which is the largest production region.

“Another critical factor reducing U.S. consumption of meats is related to domestic and foreign incomes,” Hurt said. “Domestic incomes were under pressure in the financial crisis of late 2008-09, setting off the Great Recession from which employment and consumer incomes are just now recovering. While U.S. consumers were under pressure, incomes in developing countries were rising. This caused U.S. meat exports to rise, pitting foreign consumers against domestic consumers for the limited U.S. meat supplies,” he said.

According to Hurt, the next era for animal industries will be one of rebuilding herds and flocks. This will be a multiple-year process and will be characterized as a role reversal for the crops sector and the animal sector.

“If the years from 2007 to 2013 could be described as the Grain Era, in which crop-sector incomes had an extraordinary run, the coming period may be described as the Animal Era, when producers of animal products have strong returns,” Hurt said. “During the Grain Era, some resources like pasture land and forage production were converted to cash crop production. In the coming Animal Era, there will be some incentive to convert cash crop land back to animal industry use. This will be most predominant for the marginal cash crop lands of the central and western Great Plains.”

The three important causes of declining per capita consumption are shifting from negative to positive drivers, Hurt continued. Feed prices are much lower, drought continues to abate in the Southern Plains, and the U.S. economy continues a slow but steady process of bringing more families back into the workforce.

So how much of the 20-pound-per-person reduction in meat consumption will the animal industries recover in coming years? Hurt said that the answer to that question depends on the magnitude of the changes in the drivers. As an example, 219 pounds of meat consumption per person was based on a period when corn prices averaged about $2 a bushel and soybean meal $200 a ton.

“As feed prices re-set in the coming era, few believe feed prices will drop back to those low levels,” Hurt said. “Given current expectations for feed prices in coming years, a recovery of 10 to 12 pounds of the lost 20 seems like a reasonable estimate. This would mean a recovery from 199 pounds to near 210 pounds,” he said.

Hurt said that the animal industries finally have a positive multiple-year outlook.

“The favorable income prospects will be based on feed prices re-setting to lower levels, continued reductions in drought-affected pastures, and to strengthening domestic incomes,” Hurt said. “Animal industries are expected to be in a mini-boom phase in coming years, led by rising per capita consumption, continued small growth in U.S. population, and growing export demand. An important determining force of how big the boom will be will depend to what level feed prices re-set.”

This mini-boom phase for animal agriculture will be economically supportive to rural communities with strong animal populations, Hurt added. “It will also stimulate economic activity in industries that supply, market, and process animal products, including animal buildings and equipment, animal feed, haying and forage equipment, animal pharmaceuticals, and lending for animal expansion,” he said.




4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
180 Bevier Hall

Gail Harrison, Professor, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health - TBD


Rising Food Prices & Food Security: Household Evidence from Afghanistan

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
180 Bevier Hall

Dean Jolliffe, Senior Economist, The World Bank Group – “Rising Food Prices & Food Security: Household Evidence from Afghanistan”


Agriculture Production Subsidies, Poverty and Child Health: Evidence from Malawi

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
180 Bevier Hall

Hope Michelson, Assistant Professor, Department of Agriculture & Consumer Economic, UIUC –
“Agriculture Production Subsidies, Poverty and Child Health: Evidence from Malawi”


Faculty/Student – Nutrition Quiz Bowl

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Bevier Spice Box / Bevier Commons

Faculty/Student – Nutrition Quiz Bowl, Bevier Spice Box

Please join us in Bevier Commons for refreshments following.


Too Little, too big; Too long, too short; Too fast; Too slow; Too large, too small; Too wild, to straight; too old, too young; Can’t one size fit all [for nutrition]? A play on words from the words of medical profession"

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
180 Bevier Hall

Carl Sather, Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine & Pediatrics, UIUC – “Too Little, too big; Too long, too short; Too fast; Too slow; Too large, too small; Too wild, to straight; too old, too young; Can’t one size fit all [for nutrition]? A play on words from the words the medical profession”


Dianne Neumark-Stzainer, Professor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota (I-TOPP Speaker)

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Doris Kelly Christopher Hall, Classroom 7

Dianne Neumark-Stzainer, Professor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota (I-TOPP Speaker)

*12:00PM-1:00PM in classroom 7 of Doris Kelly Christopher Hall.  Lunch will also be provided*