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Study determines rice co-products valuable sources of amino acids in pig diets

Published December 18, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – The global demand for meat is expected to continue to increase rapidly as populations grow and incomes in developing countries rise. Rice is a staple food for more than half of the world's population, and the production of rice for human consumption yields over 200 million tons of co-products per year. Those co-products can be fed to livestock and thus help meet the demand for animal protein.

"Different procedures used in rice milling may negatively affect the digestibility and availability of amino acids," said Hans H. Stein, professor of animal sciences at the University of Illinois. Stein and his team recently published the results of an experiment to determine the digestibility of amino acids in several rice co-products fed to growing pigs.

Stein and his team tested broken rice, two sources of full fat rice bran (FFRB-1 and FFRB-2), and one source of defatted rice bran (DFRB). Rice bran is the outer layer of the rice grain, which is removed to make polished white rice. Broken rice consists of polished white rice kernels that are too short to be sold for human consumption.

The standardized ileal digestibility (SID) of crude protein was 97.2 percent in broken rice, 83.9 percent in FFRB-1, 79.8 percent in FFRB-2, and 78.7 percent in DFRB. For all amino acids, values for standardized ileal amino acid digestibility were greatest in broken rice. Digestibility values for most amino acids were the same for the two sources of full fat rice bran, but digestibility was greater in FFRB-1 for some amino acids, including lysine, methionine, and histidine. Digestibility values were greater in both FFRB-1 and FFRB-2 than in DFRB for most amino acids.

"Full fat rice bran has more fat and less fiber than defatted rice bran, and both of these factors improve amino acid digestibility," Stein said. "But digestibility is greatest in broken rice because it contains virtually no fiber."

Digestibility isn't the whole story, Stein pointed out. Most of the protein in rice is contained in the bran, so the concentration of amino acids in broken rice is very low.

"Defatted rice bran actually had the greatest concentration of standardized ileal digestible amino acids, and broken rice had the least," he said. "The amount of amino acids in the rice bran products was so much greater than in broken rice that it made up for the relatively low digestibility."

But all rice co-products contain protein of high quality and a balance of indispensable amino acids that is closer to the requirements for pigs than in most other co-products from cereal grains. This favorable amino acid balance in combination with the relatively high digestibility makes rice co-products valuable sources of amino acids if included in diets fed to pigs.

The paper, "Amino acid digestibility in rice co-products fed to growing pigs," was published in a recent edition of Animal Feed Science and Technology.  It was co-authored by Gloria Casas and Juliana Almeida, both from the U of I. The full text can be found online at

Illinois Master Gardener program celebrates 40th anniversary

Published December 17, 2015
Master Gardener Elaine Weil teaches children at the Easter Seals camp how to plant herbs in an Earth Box.

URBANA, Ill. – For the University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener program, the last four decades can be measured by the millions of volunteer hours given to help bring horticultural help to communities across the state.

This past year marked the 40th anniversary of the Illinois Master Gardener program. With over 3,000 members today, Illinois Master Gardeners have given more than 2,309,348 volunteer hours, a value of over $46 million, to the state.

The program began in Illinois in 1975, under the direction of Floyd Giles, a former Extension horticultural specialist and state Master Gardener coordinator. That first program was conducted in Will, DuPage, and northern Cook counties. Training of the first volunteers took place in Wheaton, and the first Master Gardener office operated out of the Des Plaines post office.

Today, Master Gardener volunteers—who come from farms, small towns, suburbs, and cities—offer numerous educational opportunities related to gardening in nearly every county in the state.

The mission of the Illinois Master Gardener program is “Helping Others Learn to Grow.” After 60 hours of training in topics such as vegetable and flower gardening, insect problems, and plant diseases, the volunteers participate in programs throughout their communities. Some of those opportunities may include speaking at garden clubs, civic groups, or schools; answering calls or emails at garden help desks; establishing demonstration gardens that serve as educational tools; and educating citizens on how to establish community gardens.

Monica David, state coordinator for the Illinois program, points out that the programs vary by county depending on the needs of the community and the Master Gardeners themselves. “There isn’t a cookie cutter volunteer project in every county,” David explains. “Some counties focus on youth gardening and some stress answering questions that come in to the local Extension office. Each county is a little different.”

David says people who may already have an interest in gardening, but who especially want to give back to their communities are those who become Master Gardeners. “It’s not always people with a horticultural background, because we do train them. It’s people who are interested in helping people and working with the public that come to the program,” David says.

Before joining the Master Gardener program 16 years ago, David was in the field of medical microbiology for nearly 25 years. “I decided I wanted a switch, so I went back and got a master’s degree in horticulture with an emphasis on plant diseases. A job was open in the program and I’ve been here ever since,” David says.

After serving as the Illinois Master Gardener program state coordinator since 2003, David will retire on Dec. 31.

David explains that while the program tends to attract most of its members from the “retired crowd,” there has been an increase in people from younger generations signing up. “It’s a lot about people who really want to further their education, too,” she says.

During the 2015 Master Gardener State Conference in O’Fallon in September, a celebration was held to celebrate the anniversary and present awards to projects from across the state.

A few examples of teamwork award winners include:

  • “Trees are Terrific” Arbor Day Program (Cook South Suburban) - Eight Master Gardeners contributed 272.5 volunteer hours presenting 23 “Trees are Terrific” Arbor Day programs from 2009 through 2014. The volunteers adapted the Extension website Trees are Terrific to become a face-to-face and hands-on program for pre-K through first grade at nine separate schools.
  • Vermicomposting in the Classroom (Jo Daviess County) - A team of Jo Daviess County Master Gardeners have been implementing Vermicomposting in the Classroom since Earth Day 2013. The team travels to one elementary school per year bringing hands-on materials for third graders to experience, learn about, and create compost bins with red worms.
  • The Gardens at SIUe (Madison-Monroe-St. Clair Counties) - Unit 22 Master Gardeners took over the planting and maintenance of these gardens as well as educational efforts. In 2014 Master Gardeners donated over 900 volunteer hours to plant and maintain the Shakespearean Garden, the Presidential Walkway, the Prairie Portal, and a butterfly garden.
  • Healthy Gardening Food Pantry Project (Marshall-Putnam County) - This project was an outreach program to benefit and aide in educating and assisting 18 rural communities within this small multi-county unit on the health benefits of home gardening with the focus being on those in need at local food pantries. Phase one began with Master Gardeners teaching basic vegetable gardening classes in five different locations. Phase two involved distributing containers, plants, seed, and soil to people at all five food pantries.
  • Discovery Garden (McDonough County) - In 2013, a small garden committee met to begin planning and developing the Discovery Garden on the Extension grounds. This garden is made  up of 18 individual gardens including a front window garden, sedum garden, bulb garden, daffodil and daylily garden, rainbow garden, butterfly garden, sod test garden, front sign garden, shade garden, hummingbird garden, ornamental grasses garden, test plots, nursery garden, sun garden, fruit trees garden, hydrangea garden, a Chief garden for natives, and a high-tunnel garden. These gardens show the public best gardening practices and successful varieties.
  • Self Help Garden Club (Whiteside County) - The Self Help Garden Club serves developmentally delayed adults living in group homes and/or on their own among the community. The goals of this project are to educate these consumers on food production and to increase their awareness of healthy eating.

For a full list of this year’s award winners, visit

The first Master Gardener program began in 1972 in Washington state. Because Extension specialists received so many requests for gardening information, the program was created to allow Extension specialists and faculty to train volunteers in exchange for a commitment to spend a specified number of hours doing volunteer work in the community. The program has since spread to all 50 states and several Canadian provinces.

For more information on volunteer opportunities or how to become an Illinois Master Gardener, go to

New book discusses the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Published December 15, 2015
portion of book cover

URBANA, Ill. – A new book looks at aspects of how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) affects health and well-being. SNAP Matters includes a chapter on obesity by University of Illinois economist Craig Gundersen, who is also one of the book’s editors.

The central goal of SNAP is to reduce food insecurity in the United States. Although SNAP, (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) is one of the country’s most successful safety net programs since its beginnings about 50 years ago, it has its critics.

“Most recently, SNAP has come under attack for being perceived as a contributor to obesity among low-income Americans,” says Gundersen. “There are some groups who would even like to restrict what can and cannot be purchased with SNAP.”

In Gundersen’s chapter on “SNAP and Obesity,” he says there is very little evidence that SNAP is associated with higher probabilities of obesity among participants in comparison to eligible nonparticipants.

Quite the contrary.

“There is actually clear evidence that SNAP improves the well-being of recipients over numerous dimensions and that imposing restrictions would lead to declines in participation and increases in food insecurity. In addition, restrictions would lead to increases in food prices due to all the extra labelling needed and don’t help hungry people,” Gundersen says.

If restrictions on purchases are imposed, the number of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from would increase, and the rate of obesity would not decline.

“Although there are a few outliers, most competently done studies have shown that SNAP recipients are no more likely to be obese than eligible nonrecipients,” Gundersen says. “Some studies have even shown that SNAP participants are less likely to be obese.” 

The book has seven other chapters: Why Are So Many Americans on Food Stamps? The Role of the Economy, Policy, and Demographics; The Effect of SNAP on Poverty; The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Food Insecurity; SNAP and Food Consumption; The Health and Nutrition Effects of SNAP: Selection into the Program and a Review of the Literature on Its Effects; SNAP and the School Meal Programs; and Multiple Program Participation and the SNAP Program.

SNAP Matters: How Food Stamps Affect Health and Well-Being was edited by Judith Bartfeld and Timothy M. Smeeding, University of Wisconsin; Craig Gundersen, Soybean Industry Endowed Professor of Agricultural Strategy in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois; and James P. Ziliak, University of Kentucky. It is published by Stanford University Press.

Financial support was provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Economic Research Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the Ford Foundation; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


Study reports childhood family breakups harder on girls’ health

Published December 14, 2015
young girls running in a field
  • Girls’ mental and overall physical health are more affected by family breakups than boys’ health.
  • Childhood family breakups may have long-term impacts on adult health.  
  • Men and women who smoke and lived without their father during childhood may need more help to quit smoking.

URBANA, Ill. – A childhood family breakup can have long-term negative consequences for the children. Recent University of Illinois research looks at overall health, depression, and smoking as a health-related behavior and finds that, for girls, all three are worse.  

“Girls’ health is more sensitive to family structure,” says Andrea Beller, a U of I economist who studies educational attainment and the effects of single-parent family living. “Prior research shows that family breakups affect boys more than girls through cognitive, educational, and emotional channels. We find that, if you grow up in a non-traditional family structure—single parent or step-parent or a cohabiting relationship, girls are more likely than boys to be depressed and report worse overall health.” 

Beller and former graduate student Alex Slade used the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health), which consists of data collected from 90,000 adolescents in four waves over 13 years. The present study selected a subsample of just 7,607 individuals aged 15 to 18 at the first collection in 1996; of those, 4,757 aged 27 to 32 remained in the sample at the most recent data collection in 2009. The sample was selected using criteria such as single-mother homes in which the mother reported both her marital history and the presence or absence of the child’s biological father.  It excluded individuals whose fathers had died.

“In other studies, if the biological father left and later came back, it misclassifies him as always there,” says Beller. “In addition, most other research projects on this topic are static. They look at a single point or short period in time. In this study, we follow the individuals into adulthood and factor in how old the child was when the biological father left the home.”

The study points out that a girl’s age at the time of the family breakup matters.

“Between ages 6 and 10 is an important life period when girls are particularly vulnerable,” says Beller. “Early father absence is adversely associated with smoking behavior, overall health, and depression well into adulthood. And the pattern of findings for depression over the time periods suggests that family structure has a more complex role in girls’ mental than physical health.”

The researchers chose to add smoking to the mix because other research shows that children from single-parent homes are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. They controlled for maternal smoking because, although single mothers are more likely to smoke than mothers in two-parent families, children are more likely to smoke if the mother smokes even in homes with two biological parents.

For each of the four interview waves, Beller and Slade looked at when the individuals started and stopped smoking. For both men and women, starting and quitting was affected by the family structure of the child’s home.

“We find that if the biological father was never present, smoking, physical, and mental health are all worse,” Beller adds.  “And if they leave when girls are in very early childhood (0 to 5 years old), we find a significant association with worse physical health, regardless of the presence of other males.” Because of this finding, the researchers suggest that perhaps public health policy should incorporate family background as a risk factor for lifelong as well as adolescent smoking, recognizing that smoking cessation may be particularly challenging for individuals who experienced family breakups in childhood.

The subjects in the survey were interviewed the first time when they were in grades 7 to 12 so the breakup may have already occurred. Their mothers were asked to provide information about their marital history—the three most recent marriage or marriage-like relationships. Beller says including cohabiting relationships is innovative.

“The men may or may not have acted as a dad to the child. We don’t know how they interacted, but we do know that the presence of such father-substitutes tends to be associated with much worse outcomes for girls, while the absence of father-substitutes leads to some of the worst family structure associations for boys.”

In 1995, when the ADD Health data were first collected, a third of the adolescents had experienced a father having left the household. Some never had a father. Beller points out that current statistics are even more adverse concerning the number of homes without a father present.

“Family structure and young adult health outcomes,” written by Alexander N. Slade, Andrea H. Beller, and Elizabeth T. Powers was published in the Review of Economics of the Household.


News Source:

Andrea Beller

Anticipating the Dec. 1 corn stocks estimate

Published December 14, 2015

URBANA, Ill. – On Jan.12, the USDA will release the final estimate of the size of the 2015 corn crop and an estimate of the magnitude of corn stocks that were being held on Dec. 1. Those estimates will reveal the pace of corn consumption during the first quarter of the 2015-16 marketing year as well as the inventory of corn available for consumption during the remainder of the marketing year. According to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, those estimates will allow for an updated projection of the level of stocks likely to be on hand at the end of the marketing year and will set the tone for corn prices into the spring of the year.

“It is difficult to anticipate the estimate of the magnitude of Dec.1 corn inventories because neither the final estimate of the size of the 2015 crop nor the magnitude of consumption during the first quarter of the marketing year are known,” said Good. “What can be calculated is the likely magnitude of stocks if; the final production estimate is equal to the November forecast; if non-feed consumption during the quarter was near the level estimated from incomplete consumption data already revealed; and if feed and residual use of corn during the quarter was at the pace of total marketing-year consumption projected by the USDA.”

Good said that a Dec. 1 stocks estimate near the calculated value is considered neutral for corn prices, while an estimate that differed substantially from the calculated value would likely result in some price adjustment.

“The most is known about the magnitude of exports during the first quarter of the marketing year,” Good said. “Official Census Bureau export estimates are available for September and October and USDA cumulative weekly export inspection estimates are available through the week that ended Dec.10. Cumulative export inspections for September, October, and November totaled 277 million bushels. Census Bureau estimates through October exceeded cumulative export inspections by 16 million bushels. Historically, that margin has been even larger by the end of November.  Assuming that is the case this year, corn exports during the first quarter of the marketing year were likely very close to 300 million bushels. That level of exports would be about 100 million bushels less than during the first quarter last year, the smallest for the quarter since the extremely small crop of 2012, and the third smallest since 1974.”

Based on estimates in the USDA Grain Crushings and Co-Products Production reports, 872 million bushels of corn were used for ethanol and co-product production in September and October of 2015. The use of corn for the production of those products during November can be estimated based on the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) ethanol production estimate for November. The official estimate for November will not be released until the end of January.

“For now, the production estimate for November is based on weekly EIA estimates, which sometimes differ from the subsequent monthly estimates,” Good said. “Weekly estimates point to November 2015 ethanol production of 1.219 billion gallons, 1.5 percent larger than production in November 2014 when 434 million bushels of corn were used for ethanol and co-product production.  A 1.5 percent increase would put November 2015 corn use at 441 million bushels and use during the first quarter of the marketing year at 1.313 billion bushels. However, a bit more sorghum may have been used for ethanol production in November this year. Corn use during the quarter is estimated at 1.305 billion bushels.”

For the 2015-16 marketing year, the USDA projects domestic corn consumption for the production of food, seed, and industrial products other than ethanol at 1.38 billion bushels. That is 1.5 percent larger than consumption during the previous year.  Quarterly consumption for those products is relatively consistent from year to year, so that a 1.5 percent year-over-year increase in the first quarter this year would have resulted in use of about 343 million bushels.

“The least is known about the magnitude of feed and residual use of corn during the first quarter of the marketing year because use in that category is not measured,” Good said. “Instead, use will be revealed by the December 1 stocks estimate. For the year, the USDA has projected feed and residual use of corn at 5.3 billion bushels, slightly less than the estimate of 5.315 billion bushels used in the previous year. The quarterly distribution of feed and residual use continues to vary from year to year. An estimated 2.226 billion bushels of corn were used in the feed and residual category during the first quarter of the marketing year last year. With a year-over-year increase in the number of hogs fed, the number of cattle on feed, and the number of dairy cows on farms, feed and residual use should be proceeding at least as rapidly as last year even with no increase in broiler chick placements and a decline in layer numbers.”

Corn consumption during the first quarter of the marketing year is estimated to be near 4.174 billion bushels, Good said. Stocks of corn at the beginning of the marketing year totaled 1.731 billion bushels and imports during the quarter were likely near seven million bushels. “With a crop of 13.654 billion bushels, the corn supply totaled 15.392 billion bushels. The calculation for the Dec. 1 stocks estimate is 11.218 billion bushels, almost identical to the level of stocks a year earlier.”