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AG News




Landscape pruning Page 3 Protecting peaches Page 7 Space travel food Page 11 Urban farm Page 13

January 2012

North Georgia’s Agricultural Newspaper

2012 IPE/IFE set for Atlanta By Barbara Olejnik Georgia Ag News Staff

ATLANTA — Poultry Week, proclaimed for the week of Jan. 22-28 by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, will be full of activities for the poultry and egg industries, including the 64th annual International Poultry Expo sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and the International Feed Expo sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association. The 2012 IPE/IFE will be held Jan. 24-26 at the Georgia World Congress Center. The trade show will showcase industry developments including advancements in feed milling,

hatchery, live production, pro- programs have been added to cessing, marketing and other the 2012 activities that IPE/IFE support activities. attendees can sign up for. Scheduling for the 2012 IPE/ Those programs are ChartIFE has been moved to a Tues- ing the Course: An Executive day through Thursday event, Conference on the Future of which is expected to provide the American Poultry Industry, additional time for educational Jan.24; Charting the Course: meetings as well as separate An Executive Conference on organizational meetings held in the Future of the American Egg conjunction with the Expo. Industry, Jan. 24; IPE Pre-HarWhile the trade show part of vest Food Safety Conference, the Expo provides an opportu- Jan. 24-25; International Rennity to view a large display of dering Symposium, Jan. 26equipment, supplies and ser- 27; and a Poultry Leaders of vices to the poultry, egg and the Future: Managerial Basics feed industries, a great deal of Workshop, Jan. 26-27. emphasis has been placed on Other educational programs the accompanying educational at the IPE/IFE include the Anisessions of the 2012 show. In fact, five new educational See IPE/IFE, Page 6

Photo by David B. Strickland

Farm-City breakfast: The recent Hall County FarmCity Breakfast was a chance to herald the praises of agriculture, as well as noting the importance agribusiness has to Georgia’s economy. That message was shared by the breakfast’s guest speaker, Bryan Tolar, right, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council. Tolar was welcomed to the event by Michael Wheeler, Hall County Extension coordinator, as both hold the proclamation presented by the Hall County Board of Commissioners declaring Farm-City Week in Hall County.

Photo by David B. Strickland

Poultry expo: Approximately 900 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees from all across the U.S., and the world will be on hand for the International Poultry Expo/International Feed Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, Jan. 24-26.

USDA forecasting broiler production decrease for 2012 By David B. Strickland Georgia Ag News Staff

WASHINGTON — Production of broiler meat is being forecast to decrease in 2012, to 36.7 billion pounds, a decrease of 1.7 percent, due to higher prices of corn and soybean meal, as well as the slow economy, USDA’s Economic Research Service notes in its recent Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook.

In regard to broiler and turkey exports, there was a noted increase in September from last year’s amounts. “Broiler shipments totaled 637 million pounds, a 3.1 percent increase from September 2010 shipments,” ERS reported. “Turkey shipments totaled 58.8 million pounds, an 18 percent increase from last year.”

See Forecast, Page 12


GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

Coupon clipping and comparison shopping By Michael Rupured Special to Georgia Ag News

ATHENS — Clipping coupons and thrifty shopping are back in style. Reality shows and specialty blogs feature super coupon users who pay pennies on the dollar at the grocery store. Spending an hour or two preparing to shop before you head to the store can help you save money. Out of all of the categories in your personal spending plan, you have the most control over your food budget. The amount you spend at the grocery store depends entirely upon the choices you make. Here are some tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension for saving money when making food purchases. l Make menus, then a shopping list. Plan ahead. Think about the meals you need to prepare be-

tween now and the next time you will shop. The more detailed your menu is, the more help it will be when you get to the store. Better yet, use your menu to create your shopping list. Never go into the grocery store without a list. Shopping without a list makes you much more likely to buy impulse items and other things you may not need. Without a list, you are also more likely to forget something, which means making another trip to the grocery and more impulse buys. Get to know the store you use the most, and list the items you need in order of where they are in the store. l Buy produce in season. Buy fresh fruit and vegetables when they are in season. For example, instead of buying blueberries in winter months and paying for the shipping and import fees, buy them in the summer when they are more likely to be grown nearby.

You get a fresher product and hang on to more of your money. The food section in your local newspaper usually features articles and recipes on seasonal items.

Coupons Food companies release coupons to increase sales, especially for new products. Use coupons to save money on items you usually buy anyway. Avoid buying items you would not normally purchase just because you have a coupon. Even with a coupon, brand name products are often more expensive than other options. Consider buying the store brand instead of the national brand. If you compare ingredients, you will often find no difference between store and national brands. As far as taste goes, store brands are often as good and in some instances, even better than national brands. Compare costs Use the unit price to compare costs. The unit price is how much the item costs per ounce, pound or other unit. Contrary to what many people think, the largest size is not always the cheapest. You can find the unit price on the shelf sticker. Paying attention to how you

Stephanie Schupska/UGA

Buy in season: Comparing unit prices and buying produce when it’s in season are just two money-saving tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension experts.

shop at the grocery store can help you get more for your food dollar. Saving a few dollars each trip to the store may seem to be more trouble than it is worth. Those few dollars each week can add up to a

lot of money in a year or two. Michael Rupured is a financial specialist with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

Flavor of Georgia 2012 contest accepting entries By April Sorrow

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATHENS — High Road Craft Ice Cream won top prize in the dairy division of the 2011 Flavor of Georgia Food Product Contest. Since winning the University of Georgia contest, the company has been growing by leaps and bounds. Eight months ago High Road Craft sold its

handmade ice cream to about 50 restaurants in Atlanta. Today, their creamy desserts are featured in 150 restaurants, 22 Whole Food Markets and on the shelves of specialty markets from North Carolina to Colorado. “The Flavor of Georgia contest really brought a lot of exposure to us, our sales have quadrupled,” said Nicki Shroeder, the company’s chief marketing officer. “After winning the contest, we could add ‘Flavor of Georgia Award Winner’ to our marketing materials and it gave credibility to our products.”

April R. Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and See Contest, Page 10 Environmental Sciences.

GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012


Hold off on pruning plants in your landscape By Paul Pugliese

Special to Georgia Ag News

CANTON — As the days get shorter and plants go dormant for winter, many homeowners become anxious to prune their landscapes. For most trees and shrubs, pruning in the fall isn’t the best time. Some woody trees and shrubs can be injured during winter from pruning cuts or open wounds that won’t have a chance to

heal properly until next spring. An open wound in the winter is more likely to suffer damage from water freezing and thawing inside the cracks and crevices of the exposed wood.

February/March It is generally better to prune trees and shrubs in February or early March just before spring growth begins. This is the ideal time to prune fruit trees, shade

trees, crape myrtles, shrub roses, hollies and other evergreen plants. Pruning in late winter minimizes the time the wound is exposed. As trees break dormancy in the spring, their rapid growth will quickly heal over any exposed wounds or cuts. Wound sealants or pruning paints are not recommended. Numerous studies have shown that these products actually slow or delay

University of Georgia receives $16K grant TUCKER — The University of Georgia Poultry Science Department recently received a $16,334 student recruiting grant from the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association Foundation. Tom Hensley, president of Fieldale Farms and USPOULTRY board member, presented the check to Dr. Mike Lacy, professor and head of the Poultry Science Department at the University of Georgia. Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, and Abit Massey, GPF’s president emeritus, assisted with the check presentation. “The University of Georgia Department of Poultry Science uses funds from the USPOULTRY Foundation to attract students to its majors through summer programs, which introduce high school students to the interesting field of poultry science,” Lacy said. “Funds are also used to create recruiting materials to help students who are already attending UGA, but are not familiar with the poultry science, become aware of the tremen-


UGA grant: The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association Foundation recently presented the University of Georgia Poultry Science Department with a $16,334 student recruiting grant. On hand for the presentation were, left to right, Dr. Mike Lacy, head of the UGA Poultry Science Department; Tom Hensley, president of Fieldale Farms, as well as a USPOULTRY board member; Mike Giles, president of the Georgia Poultry Federation; and Abit Massey, GPF’s president emeritus.

dous number and diversity of career opportunities available in the poultry industry.” The USPOULTRY Foundation board recently approved student recruiting grants totaling more than $180,000 to the six U.S. universities with poultry science departments and 14 other institutions with poultry programs. The founda-

tion provides annual recruiting funds to colleges and universities to attract students to their poultry programs. The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is an all-feather organization representing the complete spectrum of the poultry industry. Founded in 1947, the association is based in Tucker, Ga.

the healing process and provide little or no benefit.

Exceptions Of course with any rule there are a few exceptions. Herbaceous perennial plants like daylilies, peonies, black-eyed susans, hostas and purple coneflowers can be cut back once they are dormant. Remove dead leaves and stems in the fall and add mulch to protect roots from freezing weather. Some gardeners don’t cut back perennials, such as ornamental grasses, until late winter because their dormant leaves provide winter interest and texture to the landscape. Other exceptions are trees and shrubs that produce flowers on old wood, or buds formed during the previous season. Pruning these trees while dormant will not harm them, but the following year’s flower buds will be sacrificed. Examples of trees and shrubs that bloom on old wood are dogwoods, redbuds, flowering cherries, azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, climbing roses that bloom in spring, forsythias, lilacs and viburnums. These trees and shrubs should be pruned immediately after their blooming season ends to avoid removal of next year’s flower buds. Most of these plants have obvious flower buds that should provide a fair warning not to prune them. If renovation or renewal pruning

is necessary during the dormant season, don’t expect many flowers for at least a year.

Use sharp tools Hand pruners are your best tool. Avoid using gas-powered trimmers when doing major corrective pruning and reshaping jobs. The bypass cut or scissor type pruners are the most useful. Anvil-type, hard pruners aren’t as good as they tend to crush rather than cut limbs. Use lopping shears to prune small trees or shrubs with diameters up to 1.5 inches. For plants with branches more than 2-inches thick, use a pruning saw. Make sure your tools are sharp. Sharp tools will make cleaner cuts and allow them to heal faster. When pruning diseased plants, consider sterilizing the pruning blades with a 10-percent bleach solution. This should especially be done between individual plants. This will minimize the spread of diseases from plant to plant. When you finish pruning, don’t just throw your pruning tools in the shed. Clean them and apply a light coat of household oil to prevent rust.

Paul Pugliese is the agriculture and natural resources agent for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Cherokee County.



GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

Viewpoint Agriculture raises a collective voice By Mike Giles

Special to Georgia Ag News

GAINESVILLE — How often have you had conversations with colleagues and partners in other sectors of agriculture about how we need to do a better job of telling the amazing story of modern poultry production and agriculture in general? Maybe it was about the need to educate our youth, or perhaps it was about Giles trying to reverse myths among consumers about how poultry and other food products are produced. There appears to be a revolution happening that could have a dramatic impact on poultry producers and our partners in agricultural food production. I’m not talking about technological advances that will enable farmers and food producers to provide even safer and more healthy foods or ones that will allow us to continue to make efficiency improvements which will make our poultry operations even more sustainable in the future — though these advancements are sure to happen in the coming years. I’m talking about the ways in which farmers and food producers respond to consumers’ insatiable curiosity about the food they purchase Mike Giles is president of the Georgia Poultry Federation with offices in Gainesville, Ga.

and feed to their families. Conversations are happening at the dinner table, among neighbors and friends and perhaps most significantly online in the social media space. Those who are critical of modern farming practices have been actively engaged in these conversations for some time, in many cases driving the discussions. There are millions of consumers though that simply have questions about the food they eat — where it was produced and how it was raised. As they should be, consumers are curious and are looking for answers. The question remains whether their questions will be answered by those who know the most about agriculture and food production, farmers and food processors, or whether they will be answered by critics with a bias against modern agricultural practices. Farmers across the nation are stepping up to the challenge. There are farmers speaking out on Twitter with tens of thousands of followers. They are talking about their everyday activities associated with raising food and caring for animals, and at the same time they are demystifying what it means to be a family farmer for millions of those curious consumers. Organizations such as the AgChat Foundation and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) are among those facilitating these online discussions. The Alliance is a coalition of more than 50 national, regional and state agricultural groups and their partners. The poultry industry is an active partner in this coalition through the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and

United Egg Producers. USFRA is billed as the first collaboration of such a wide range of groups gathered to lead a dialogue about how food is raised. USFRA started by listening to people to learn what questions they have about how food is raised and what is most important to them as consumers. It turns out that some of the messages that we in agriculture have used for years, while true and important, might not be what consumers are most interested in. For example, 64 percent of consumers say that keeping food prices low is very important, but they also want to know that the food they feed their families is safe and healthy for them in the long term. On the other hand, they might be less interested in how U.S. agriculture creates jobs and is poised to feed a hungry world over the coming decades. The poultry industry has a remarkable story to tell when it comes to providing affordable food. According to Dr. Mike Lacy, head of the Poultry Science Department at the University of Georgia, “Chicken and eggs sell today for about one-eighth of the cost they did in 1950, when you consider the value of the dollar in 1950. Taking into account the change in the value of the dollar, essentially, chicken today is selling for $4.90 less per pound and eggs $13.20 less per dozen. It is almost impossible to find another commodity that sells for the same price now as it did in the 1950s.” At the same time, the wide variety of poultry products available to consumers has never

Consumers have questions about the food they eat . . . Farmers across the nation are stepping up to the challenge . . . talking about their everyday activities . . . demystifying what it means to be a family farmer.

been safer or more beneficial to the long term health of their families. These are two messages that are at the heart of what consumers say is important about the food they purchase and consume. Environmental sustainability is another topic that consumers want to know more about. Large scale agriculture is often

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painted as being not sustainable, whatever that means. Some say big is bad, and small or locally produced is good. For poultry producers, what is lost in the comparison are the tremendous gains in efficiencies that have occurred over the recent decades. Breeding programs initiated in

See Giles, Page 7 Account Executive Stacy Louis 770-718-3445 Account Executive Dinah Winfree 770-718-3438

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GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012


Youth farm work opportunities at risk By Lynne Finnerty

Special to Georgia Ag News

WASHINGTON — Every summer, rural teenagers get jobs on local farms to earn some cash while being outdoors. Some just enjoy helping a relative or neighbor on his farm or ranch — because it really is a great experience to drive a tractor. Across rural America, young people help cut and bale hay on other people’s land. In the Midwest, many a teen has worked as a corn detasseler, removing tassels from one variety of plants so they can be pollinated by another and create a high-yield hybrid. For others, their first job might have been picking fruit in an orchard. By working on farms, their own family’s or someone else’s, young people learn about agriculture, how to respect and care for animals and how to work safely with farm equipment. They also learn important values, such as a good

work ethic and taking on responsibility. But under a Labor Department proposal, such work could be off-limits to minors. They would not be allowed to work on a farm that isn’t directly owned by their parents or operate any powerdriven equipment — even something as simple as a battery-powered screwdriver. “Under this proposal, it sounds like youths would be allowed to push open the barn door, but whether they can flip the light switch inside is unclear,” explained American Farm Bureau labor specialist Paul Schlegel. “But they sure couldn’t use a flashlight or pick up a weed whacker. And they couldn’t go up in the barn loft because it’s greater than 6 feet above ground level.” The real impacts aren’t fully understood. It could depend literally on how government regulators write the final rules and then interpret them. Most likely, young people couldn’t even

work on their own family farm if, like many farms these days, it’s set up as a corporation or partnership, not wholly owned by the kid’s parents. The Labor Department says its proposal is needed to protect young people from dangerous work. However, as is often the case when the feds deal with an issue, the proposal goes too far. It’s like trying to kill a gnat with a sledgehammer. Farm work can have its hazards, and no one wants kids working when and where they shouldn’t be. But ask any farmer how she learned to do farm work, correctly and safely, and you’re likely to hear that she grew up doing it on either a family farm or through agricultural education programs, which also would be at risk if kids are not allowed to do many farm tasks. If we can’t train the next generation of farmers, then the implications go beyond whether a teenager can earn a

Ag Science is delivering great value By John Hart

Special to Georgia Ag News

WASHINGTON — In these challenging economic times, consumers are looking to save money in any way they can. This certainly is true at the grocery store where many customers turn to coupons, advertising circulars and loyalty cards to keep more dollars in their pocket at the checkout line. The diversity of American agriculture succeeds in providing our nation’s consumers with a vast array of food products. Shoppers today can select foods based on production practice, locale or value pricing. They can make those purchases at traditional grocery stores, specialty John Hart is director of news services for the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C.

venues, large discount chains, farmers’ markets or even farmdirect stands. Regardless of where shoppers go to make their food purchases, however, price always comes into play. And for people who make their decisions on price alone, it is important to remember that food prices could be much higher if it weren’t for the efficiency of today’s agriculture and food systems. Compared to other nations, American-grown food is affordable. That is a fact that today is often taken for granted — so much so that many scoff at its mere mention. But even in this what-have-you-done-for-melately environment, it is still valuable to look at the underlying reasons for the success. Modern farm families and the methods they use to grow food help ensure U.S. food affordability and quality is among the

best in the world. This fact goes far beyond any relief provided at the checkout counter by the redemption of a cents-off coupon. Foremost among the tools farmers use is a delicate but precise combination of nutrient management, crop protection and advancements in biotechnology. A precise plan to control insects, weeds and plant diseases allows farmers to grow more food using fewer resources on fewer acres. Since the 20th century, U.S. farmers have relied on advances in science and technology to meet the food needs of an ever increasing global population. It has been a true miracle of science, but it has also been a miracle of economics. A new study conducted for CropLife America by agronomist Mark Goodwin reveals

See Hart, Page 6

little spending money. Parents, not the federal government, should decide what’s safe for their kids. For those jobs that are particularly hazardous, the government has a role to play. But the government should at least write rules that won’t threaten the very structure of family farms and rural communities. The comment period on the proposal has closed. Now the government will continue with the rulemaking process. As it does, it is hoped that the rules will make more sense for how farms work today, and for youngsters who want the experience of working on a farm. It will be important for farm families and agricultural educators to weigh in to ensure that outcome. Lynne Finnerty is the editor of FBNews, the newspaper of the American Farm Bureau Federation.


GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

Ag Forecast meeting set for January By April Sorrow

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATHENS — Agriculture is the food you eat, clothes you wear and the fuel that runs your life. From the local Georgia farm to the globally stocked supermarket, access to safe and affordable products is important. Learn what’s ahead for this vital industry at the 2012 Ag Forecast series to be held 10 a.m.-noon: April R. Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

l Jan. 23 in Macon, l Jan. 24 in Tifton l Jan. 25 in Statesboro l Jan. 26 in Gainesville l Jan. 27 in Carrollton Producers, policymakers, agribusiness professionals and consumers will hear the 2012 economic outlook for agriculture from University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences economists. Regional speakers will discuss farm labor issues. Participants will receive a copy of the 2012 Ag Forecast book, which gives a detailed analysis of each major agricultural product — from broilers to blueberries — produced

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•Hart (Continued from page 5)

the economic benefits of pesticides. The research finds that American families save 35 percent on fresh fruit and 45 percent on fresh vegetables because of efficiencies in crop production as a result of crop protection products. The average savings on food from the use of conventional crop protection techniques for a family of four is 47.92 percent overall. Goodwin’s research also shows that the use of crop protection products adds $82 billion in increased yield and quality to field, nut, fruit and vegetable crops. Increased crop production from the use of crop protection products results in more than 1 million jobs generating more than $33 billion in wages for U.S. workers, according to Goodwin’s research. The use of modern crop production tools by farmers also reduces the need for tillage, which cuts fossil fuel use by 558 million gallons per year. And thanks to scientific techniques, farmers now

(Continued from page 1)

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produce four times as much corn and wheat as they did in the early 1900s, without impacting forests or wetlands. Because of modern agricultural practices and equipment, including satellite and computer technology, methods used to control weeds, insects and diseases today are very precise. Farmers also follow a strict set of regulations and are educated in selecting and applying only those crop protection products allowed by federal mandates. As Goodwin’s research shows, you can put a very valuable price tag on the economic benefits that American agriculture brings to the checkout counter. It remains a topic worthy of mention, even though for many consumers it has become a basic expectation. But being able to meet that expectation also has helped put other food quality choices in reach for all Americans.


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mal Ag Sustainability Summit, Jan. 23; International Poultry Scientific Forum, Jan. 23-25; Pet Food Conference, Jan. 24; Hatchery-Breeder Clinic, Jan. 24-25; and the AFIA International Feed Education program, Jan. 25. USPOULTRY is also collaborating with the University of Georgia for the school’s International Poultry Short Court and Poultry Processing Spanish Course, which will be held Jan. 27-Feb. 1, and will include free admission to the IPE/IFE 2012. Various allied organizations will be holding committee, board and annual meetings throughout the week. One such organization is the National Poultry & Food Distributors Association, which will hold its annual convention on Jan. 24-27 in conjunction with the IPE/IFE.

The annual Expo ranks as the largest annual trade show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. An estimated 20,000 people are expected to pass through the center’s doors during the week. Governor Deal, in welcoming the IPE/IFE to the city, noted that Atlanta also provides many attractions, including fine dining and historic sites. “We hope you have the opportunity to enjoy Atlanta’s sites and experience the hospitality that is so much a part of our everyday lives,” the governor said. The Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau provides a list of “50 Fun Things to See and Do in Atlanta” on a web site at http://www. More information on the 2012 International Poultry Expo and the International Feed Expo can be found at

GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012


Protecting peaches using tall fescue grass Special to Georgia Ag News

BELTSVILLE, Md. — Planting tall fescue grass as a ground cover in peach orchards helps protect peach trees from nematodes that attack tree roots, according to USDA scientists. In a study published in the Journal of Nematology, USDA Agricultural Research Service plant pathologists Andy Nyczepir at the Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Ga., and Susan Meyer at the Nematology Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., tested several tall fescue varieties to find out if they could thwart four troublesome root-knot nematode species — Meloidogyne incognita, M. hapla, M. javanica, and M. arenaria. In the study, Nyczepir and Meyer found that a commercial tall fescue, MaxQ, prevented M. incognita and M. hapla from reproducing. M. javanica has a low level of reproduction on MaxQ, but M. arenaria can reproduce on it. Traditionally, growers have fumigated peach orchard soils prior to planting and then used a nematode-resistant rootstock. But in recent years, growers have faced tough times that have made it difficult to afford preplant fumigants, such as Telone II or Vapam.

Many growers also have difficulty fumigating at the recommended time of year because of conflicts with managing other crops. In Georgia, rotation with coastal Bermuda grass, which can also be harvested for hay, is recommended for control of root-knot nematode. According to Nyczepir, their studies show that MaxQ may have potential as a preplant control strategy for M. incognita and M. hapla in southeastern and northeastern areas of the United States. Using this tall fescue as a preplant cover crop treatment may allow growers to reduce the use of chemical nematicides. Preliminary data from the team’s field trials using the fescue as a preplant cover crop have so far found that peach trees planted after the cover crop are larger than those planted in soil that is not fumigated. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency, and the research supports the USDA priority of promoting international food security. Sharon Durham is a public affairs specialist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.

•Giles (Continued from page 4)

the U.S. have provided specialized poultry breeds that produce more eggs and meat with less feed. In 1950, it took 10 weeks and more than 10 pounds of feed to grow a 3.2 pound broiler. Today, broiler growers produce a 5 pound chicken in about six weeks and only need a little more than 9 pounds of feed to do so. The poultry industry has also made strides in other areas such as conserving water and energy. Large scale agricultural production and “sustainable” aren’t mutually exclusive, but acknowledging that this is important to consumers and communicating our achievements in this area is the responsibility of these new agricultural voices. There are lively conversations happening online about how antibiotics are used, how livestock and poultry are cared for and what is the difference be-

tween a “family farm” and a “factory farm.” The difference seems to be that agricultural voices are being heard in response to questions from typical consumers who want to know more about how food is raised in our nation. It is no surprise that hard-working farmers and the innovative people in food processing believe that agriculture is under appreciated and that the positive messages about how food is produced isn’t getting through to consumers. At the same time, we can’t ignore USFRA’s survey result which says that 42 percent of consumers believe that the U.S. is “on the wrong track” in the way we produce food. Check out the site where USFRA is facilitating this discussion — — you will find the discussions to be interesting, and you might even find yourself diving into the conversation.

USDA Agricultural Research Service

Protecting peaches: USDA Agricultural Research Service pathologist Andy Nyczepir has found that growing a type of tall fescue grass as a cover crop in peach orchards can result in bigger trees with fewer problems from nematodes compared to soil that is fumigated to deal with these pests.

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GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

Georgia sod prices up, production down By Sharon Dowdy

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATHENS — A lush sodded-turfgrass lawn can be the envy of the neighborhood, but people who want to install sod lawns next year can expect to pay more, according to a Georgia Urban Ag Council ancillary survey. Eleven producers participated in the September telephone survey, representing farms ranging from less than 300 acres to more than 900 acres. The survey results help landscape companies bid jobs for 2012. It also responded to scattered reports of currently low inventory, elevated prices and the likelihood of limited supply next year, said Clint Waltz, turfgrass specialist with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

The big three “Considering the ‘big 3’ spe-

cies, bermudagrass, centipedegrass and zoysiagrass, most growers anticipate increased prices in 2012,” he said. “From this survey it’s evident that turfgrass prices are rising on the two species in greatest production.” All the surveyed producers grow bermudagrass. Forty-six percent rated their fall inventory as adequate to excellent. Moving into 2012, 55 percent projected having less than adequate supplies. Of the 11 producers surveyed, eight grow centipedegrass. Eighty-eight percent have adequate to excellent inventory. Thirteen percent of the centipedegrass growers anticipate a shortage during 2012. This fall, 60 percent of all zoysiagrass producers surveyed project a shortage of grass with 67 percent of the larger growers, or those growing more than 600 acres, projecting a shortage. St. Augustinegrass is grown by three of the 11 producers


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surveyed. Of those, 67 percent report adequate supply. All tall fescue producers reported adequate inventory, which continues a seven-year trend.

Prices up When it comes to price, the on-the-farm fall 2011 prices for bermudagrass, zoysiagrass and tall fescue had a substantive price increase from spring 2011, according to the survey. There was a rise in the delivered price for bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, tall fescue and St. Augustinegrass. The average price per square foot for a truckload of bermudagrass delivered to the Atlanta area, or within 100 miles of the farm, increased from the spring. This fall’s average delivery price was the greatest documented in the last decade. Regarding grower price expectations, 91 percent expect bermudagrass prices to increase while 9 percent expect them to remain steady. The fall 2011 average price for a delivered truckload of zoysiagrass also increased from spring 2011. For zoysiagrass, 80 percent of producers anticipate rising prices in 2012, while 20 percent forecast no change. Prices continue to rise for centipedegrass, reversing a three-year falling trend for that species. The delivered price of tall fescue rose 12.1 percent for fall 2011, reversing the spring decline in price from 2010. Half of centipedegrass and tall fescue producers expect prices to remain constant. The price of delivered St. Augustinegrass rose from spring to fall. This fall’s rise (11.4 percent) negated last spring’s 3.2 percent decrease from 2010, Waltz said. Some 67 percent of St. Augustinegrass producers expect prices to increase. “Contributing factors that

Sharon Dowdy/UGA

Sod lawns: Installing a sodded-turfgrass lawn will cost more in 2012, a recent survey shows.

may explain these data are basic economics, drought and industry constriction. It would stand to reason that as supply diminishes and demand either remains constant or increases, the price would rise,” Waltz said. “Environmental conditions across Georgia during 2011 were not ideally conducive for sod production, particularly in the state’s southern production region.”

Less growers During the past five years the number of sod producers in Georgia has declined, as have the total acres in turfgrass production. In 2007, the Georgia Crop Improvement Association reported 45 growers with 11,977 acres in certified turfgrass. These numbers fell to 34 producers with 6,633 acres in 2011, a 24 percent reduction in number of growers and 45

percent reduction in acres. The UGA Farm Gate Value Repot estimated 50,595 acres in 2007 and 33,986 in 2009. “These interrelated factors are likely contributing to lower inventories and increased prices. This late in the production season it is not possible for producers to establish new fields or push existing immature turf to make up for the shortfall of grass,” he said. Sod inventories will recover over time, he said. In the meantime, prices will likely remain high or possibly increase. The complete Georgia Urban Ag Council ancillary survey can be obtained at Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012


Broccoli packed with health By Sharon Durham

Special to Georgia Ag News

BELTSVILLE, Md. — Research performed by scientists at the USDA and published recently in the journal Crop Science has demonstrated that mineral levels in new varieties of broccoli have not declined since 1975, and that the broccoli contains the same levels of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and other minerals that have made the vegetable a healthy staple of American diets for decades. “This research provides data on the nutritional content of broccoli for breeders to consider as they further improve this important vegetable,” said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the department’s principal intramural scientific research agency. “The research demonstrates how ARS is helping to find answers to agricultural problems that impact Americans every day, from field to table.” A team of three scientists evaluated

the mineral content of 14 broccoli cultivars released during a span of more than 50 years: ARS geneticist and research leader Mark Farnham at the agency’s U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, S.C.; plant physiologist Michael Grusak at the USDA-ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center in Houston, Texas; and Clemson University scientist Anthony Keinath. The researchers grew the 14 cultivars in two field trials in 2008 and 2009, and harvested florets for testing. “Our studies show that not much has changed in terms of mineral content in the last 35 years in a crop that has undergone significant improvement from a quality standpoint and that was not widely consumed in the United States before the 1960s,” said Farnham. Broccoli florets in the study were tested for levels of calcium, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sodium, phosphorous, sulfur and zinc. Results indicated significant cultivar differences

in floret concentrations of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, sodium, phosphorous and zinc, but not of potassium, manganese, molybdenum or sulfur. There was no clear relationship between mineral concentration and release year. “For broccoli cultivars grown during the past 35 years, when hybrids became the standard cultivar, evidence indicates that mineral concentrations remain unchanged,” said Farnham. “As broccoli breeders continue to improve this crop in the future, data from this study can serve as a very useful guide in helping breeders understand the variation in mineral concentrations they should expect among their breeding stocks and also provide a realistic baseline that should be maintained as other characteristics are manipulated in the future.” Sharon Durham is a public affairs specialist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.


USDA Agricultural Research Service

Healthy broccoli: USDA Agricultural Research Service agronomist Sharon Benzen in Salinas, Calif., displays a sample of fresh grown broccoli. ARS researchers have seen that broccoli types through the years have not declined in nutritional content.


GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

USDA: Field-raised cows benefit environment By Ann Perry

Special to Georgia Ag News

BELTSVILLE, Md. — Computer simulation studies by scientists at the USDA suggests that a dairy cow living year-round in the great outdoors may leave a markedly smaller ecological hoofprint than its more sheltered sisters. USDA Agricultural Research Service agricultural engineer Al Rotz led a team that evaluated how different management systems on a typical 250-acre Pennsylvania dairy farm would affect the environment. ARS is USDA’s chief intramural scientific research agency, and this work supports the USDA commitment to promoting sustainable agriculture. Rotz

works at the ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pa. For this study, Rotz and his team used the Integrated Farm System Model, a computer program that simulates the major biological and physical processes and interactions of a crop, beef or dairy farm. The scientists collected a range of field data on grazing systems, manure management and their effects on nutrient loss to the environment. Then they used their farm model, supported by the field data, to evaluate the environmental dynamics of four different dairy farms in all types of weather for a span of 25 years.

The model generated estimates for ammonia emissions from manure, soil denitrification rates, nitrate leaching losses, soil erosion and phosphorus losses from field runoff. Estimates for emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide from both primary production and the secondary production of pesticides, fuels, electricity and other resources were also considered. Compared to high confinement systems, keeping dairy cows outdoors all year lowered levels of ammonia emission by about 30 percent. The model results also indicated that the total emissions for the

Make it at Home Recipe Mini Cheddar Quiche Bites American Egg Board Servings: makes 24 mini quiches Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 12 to 15 minutes

Ingredients: 1/4 to to 1/2 cup panko or regular bread crumbs 4 eggs 1/3 cup half-and-half 1/4 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. pepper 1-1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (5 oz.) Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray 24 mini-muffin cups with cooking spray. Pat 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crumbs in the bottom of each muffin cup. Tap muffin pan to lightly coat sides of each muffin cup. Beat eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. Add cheese; mix well. Spoon evenly into mini-muffin cups, about 1 tablespoon each. Bake in 350 degrees F oven until just set, 12

to 15 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes. Loosen quiches from sides of muffin cups with a thin knife. Remove from cups; serve warm. Leftovers are good cold or reheated briefly in the oven or microwave. Great for snacking or a quick breakfast on the run. For added flavor — add 1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon, sausage or chopped ham with cheese. More egg recipes may be obtained from the American Egg Board at

greenhouse gases methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide were 8 percent lower in a year-round outdoor production system than in a high-production confinement system. Another plus: When fields formerly used for feed crops were converted to perennial grasslands for grazing, carbon sequestration levels climbed from zero to as high as 3,400 pounds per acre every year.

The results also suggested that a well-managed dairy herd kept outdoors yearround left a carbon footprint 6 percent smaller than that of a high-production dairy herd kept in barns. Ann Perry is a public affairs specialist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.

•Contest (Continued from page 2)

2012 contest On March 13, the UGA Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development will reveal the winners of the 2012 Flavor of Georgia contest at Georgia Ag Day. Judges look for market-ready foods — either commercially available or prototypes — from across the state. Categories include barbecue and hot sauces, confections, dairy products, meat products, snack foods, and jams, jellies and sauces. Entries are judged on flavor, best use of Georgia ingredients, Georgia theme, unique or innovative qualities, commercial appeal and originality. Flavor of Georgia is only a starting point for many of the category winners, said Sharon Kane, contest director. “More than 70 percent of last year’s contestants saw an increase in their sales, publicity, business contacts and product interest following the contest,” Kane said. Winning atmosphere Shroeder said winning helped boost her business, but fostering relationships with other contestants and judges was another prize handed out by the contest. “We got a lot of great feedback about the product from judges,” she said. “And being a part of something with so many great Georgia businesses was really rewarding. It is a neat event where we are paying homage to each other.” High Road Craft Ice Cream works with another contestant, Southern Swiss Dairy, to source fresh dairy for its cream. Product registrations will be accepted through Feb. 10, 2012. Semifinalists will be announced in February. Final judging will be March 12 at the Freight Depot in Atlanta. Register early and receive a reminder to send in products for judging. Contestants can register online at http://www.flavorofgeorgia. and save $10 off registration fees. More information can also be obtained at 706-542-9809, or The annual food contest is sponsored by the CAED in partnership with the Center of Innovation for Agribusiness, Office of Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia Department of Agriculture, Georgia Agribusiness Council, Walton EMC and the UGA Department of Food Science and Technology.

GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012


Storage solutions sought for space travel food By S. Schupska

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATHENS — With a grant from NASA, food scientists at the University of Georgia aim to create zero-oxygen storage foods for deep-space travel. They admit to still being a few years away from that goal, but they recently made great strides that will translate not only into improved foods for space but for Earth-bound grocery shelves, too. Essential to life, oxygen is the death knell for stored foods. It causes foods to stale, turn brown and rot. Oxygen reacts with vitamins, carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, gradually deteriorating packaged foods’ quality, flavor and texture. Even canned and vacuum-packed foods, which contain small amounts of oxygen, eventually oxidize. “All foods deteriorate from the time of packaging to the time they reach your table,” said Aaron Brody, an adjunct professor of food science and technology at UGA. “Whether the food is dry, wet, refrigerated, or frozen, oxygen is the bad actor.” Brody and UGA food scientist Louise Wicker, his partner on the project, hope to store foods for a minimum of five years. “The food packaging is already there, but it doesn’t do any good to have barrier packaging if you don’t have the lowest-oxygen food going into the package,” said Wicker, coordinator of UGA’s masters of food technology program. She dubbed their most recent Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.

achievement “micro-oxygen foods.” While the beer and wine industries have achieved great strides in removing oxygen from liquids, the solid food industry can make no such claim. The UGA scientists are the first to wrench so much

squeezing oranges with the aim of removing as much oxygen from these fruits as possible. Pérez Almeida used liquid nitrogen to gradually purge oxygen from the chamber, where she processed the fruit under micro-oxygen conditions. Bananas and oranges were

oxygen conditions, and that was confirmed by later analysis,” Wicker said. Astronauts on the International Space Station enjoy a wide variety of foods, from multi-grain Cheerios, cashews and banana pudding cookies to broccoli au gratin and tofu with hot mustard sauce. Most astronauts are in space for six months or less, so food storage, while important, hasn’t posed major restrictions. But developing safe, high-quality foods for deep space travel — a trip to Mars that could last three to five years — is critical.

Link to Earth “One of the more important criteria for space food is that it’s ‘Earth-like,’” said Michele

Perchonok, an advanced food technologist at NASA. “Comfort foods — those we grow up with like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and chicken noodle soup — are foods the astronauts crave, especially when they’re in space for many months. The tubes and cubes of the Mercury and Gemini era just don’t meet those comfort food criteria.” Wicker agrees. “Tang is great, but it’s not orange juice,” she says. “Food is such a critical part of who we are. It’s our link to Earth.” Wicker and Brody work primarily with fruits because they are high-acid foods not given to the growth of harmful pathogens. Low-acid foods

See Space, Page 13

Happy New Year! Photo courtesy of NASA

Food for space travel: Deep-space travel will require foods that contain such low levels of oxygen that they can be stored for years while retaining their quality. As it turns out, this is a valuable trait for food stored here on Earth as well, University of Georgia researchers note.

oxygen from solid foods that it’s detectible only in parts per million. “We’ve so far achieved 30 parts per million,” said Wicker, “but we’re working toward 30 parts per billion. When that happens, we’ll call them nanooxygen foods.” Solandre Pérez Almeida, a UGA graduate student who now works in quality assurance at the Flanders Provision Co. in Waycross, Ga., also worked on the project. Her hands were often in the oversized gloves of the low oxygen processing chamber, peeling bananas and

used because they are highly nutritious, but according to Wicker, they also presented great challenges in removing oxygen. Orange juice is oxygen-sensitive and it oxidizes quickly, affecting flavor. Bananas, highly perishable, also contain an enzyme, polyphenol oxidase (PPO), which, in the presence of oxygen, causes browning almost immediately. “When we saw browning on the bananas inside the chamber we suspected that PPO doesn’t follow conventional enzyme kinetics under micro-

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GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

•Forecast (Continued from page 1)

Broilers In the fourth quarter of 2011, ERS projects broiler meat production at 9 billion pounds, a decrease of 5.1 percent from last year. “The lower fourth quarter production is expected to be driven by sharp declines in the number of birds slaughtered, but these declines are expected to be somewhat offset by an increase in average live weights,” the department noted. “Over the last several weeks, preliminary slaughter data show a lower overall number of broilers slaughtered driven by reduced numbers of lighter birds, pointing toward higher average weights.” For the third quarter of 2011, production of broiler meat was 9.53 billion pounds, an increase of 0.3 percent from the previous year, ERS said. The report notes that this was the result of a 3 percent increase in average bird live weights to 5.80 pounds, and that it worked to offset a 2.9 percent decrease in the number of slaughtered broilers. “Broiler meat production in 2012 is forecast at 36.7 billion pounds, a decrease of 1.7 percent from 2011,” the report said. “The decline in broiler meat production is expected to come mainly from a lower number of birds slaughtered, as bird weights are expected to be close to or slightly higher than in 2011. “Broiler integrators are not expected to have any strong incentive to expand production, due to the combination of continued high prices for corn and soybean meal and relatively low broiler product prices at the wholesale level. Demand growth will likely be dampened by relatively slow economic growth and continued high unemployment.” ERS added that the most recent broiler hatchery report (Nov. 5) indicated that for the previous five weeks, chicks placed for growout were 7.9 percent less that for the same time last year. “This 5-week moving average has become more strongly negative over the last several months,” ERS said. “The number of chicks placed for growout is expected to remain well below year-earlier levels through the remainder of 2011 and into 2012, but gradually to become closer to year-earlier levels in mid-2012.”

Eggs For the third quarter of 2011, production of table eggs was just more than 1.65 billion dozen, a slight increase from 2010, the report said. “On a year-over-year basis, table egg production has now risen in the last 11 consecutive quarters,” ERS noted. “With the number of table egg layers in production increasing from the previous month, table egg production is expected to continue above the previous year’s level in fourth quarter 2011. However, overall table egg production in 2012 is expected to be only about even with the previous year, as weaker egg prices, high grain costs and a slowly growing economy dampen expansion.” Third quarter 2011 production of hatching eggs amounts to approximately 264 million dozen, a decrease of 7 million dozen, or 2.6 percent, from the same time last year. “Hatching egg production is expected to be sharply lower in fourth quarter 2011 as broiler producers cut back on production.” ERS said. “The decrease in third quarter 2011 was chiefly due to a lower number of meat-type hens as the demand for broiler chicks declined. Hatching egg production is expected to level off in the latter part of 2012 as broiler production starts to gradually expand.” Third quarter prices for wholesale table eggs were about $1.18 per dozen, a 25 cents per dozen increase from 2010, the report said. “Seasonally higher demand in fourth quarter 2011 is expected to boost prices somewhat, to $1.26-$1.30 per dozen,” ERS noted. “This increase would leave table egg prices slightly higher than the $1.23 averaged in fourth quarter 2010. Prices in 2012 are forecast to be slightly lower, as exports are expected to decline slightly, placing more eggs on the domestic market.” Turkeys For the third quarter, turkey meat production was approximately 1.4 billion pounds, which is an increase of slightly less than 1 percent from 2010, the report said. Similar to broilers, third quarter turkey production, “saw a reduction in the number of birds being slaughtered and an increase in their average weight,” ERS said. “In the

case of turkeys, the number of birds slaughtered in the third quarter was 61.9 million, down 1 percent from the previous year. Offsetting this was a 2 percent increase in live weights to 28.9 pounds.” For the fourth quarter, turkey meat production is being projected to be 1.5 billion pounds, also a slight increase from last year, the department added. “Growth in turkey production in the second half of 2011 is expected to be quite different from the first half, which showed strong increases in turkey meat production,” ERS said, adding that, “turkey production in 2012 is forecast at 5.85 billion pounds, which would be an increase of just under 1 percent from 2011. “Even though turkey prices have remained strong through all of 2011, turkey producers will be faced with the impact of high grain prices and a relatively sluggish domestic economy.”

Exports For poultry exports, the ERS reports that third quarter shipments were “recordbreaking.” “September broiler shipments helped set a new record for broilers shipped in a given quarter; broilers shipped from July 2011 to September 2011 totaled almost 2 billion pounds, which eclipses the previous record set in the fourth quarter of 2010,” the department noted. “The increase in broiler meat exports is largely fueled by demand from new markets. U.S. leg quarters are competitively priced, which is a major factor for both new and historical markets.” In September broiler exports were approximately 637 million pounds, an increase of 3.1 percent from 2010, ERS noted. “While leg quarter prices are slightly higher than last year during this time, exchange rates have kept prices competitive against other major broiler exporters, particularly Brazil,” ERS said. “Shipments to major broiler importing countries such as Mexico, Cuba, Hong Kong, Angola, Japan, United Arab and China rose from a year ago. The top country for U.S. broiler exports for 2011 — Mexico — increased its imports by approximately 4 million pounds in September, the report said. Hong Kong also

increased its imports in September by about 30 million pounds more than in 2010. “With the exception of September, shipments to Russia in the third quarter of the year have picked up and have been important to the U.S. broiler market,” ERS added For eggs and egg products, exports have remained strong in spite of “relatively volatile” prices in 2011, the department noted. “In September, total egg exports were the equivalent of 26.1 million dozen eggs,” ERS said. “This is 9 percent higher than a year earlier and over the first 9 months of 2011, egg exports are 9 percent higher than during the same period in 2010.” Shell egg exports “fell slightly, but those declines were more than offset by strong increases in exports of egg products,” the report said. “The increase in exports is related to strong demand in a number of Asian countries and the weakness of the dollar against a number of other currencies.” For the third quarter, total egg exports were approximately 70.6 million dozen, an increase of about 5 percent from the same time in 2010, ERS noted. “With year-to-date exports down to Canada and a number of (European Union) countries, the increases have come from higher shipments to Mexico and a number of Asian countries, particularly Japan and Hong Kong,” ERS said. For turkeys, approximately 173 million pounds of turkey meat, an increase of about 9 percent from last year, was exported from July through September, the report said. “Approximately half of this turkey meat was shipped to Mexico,” ERS said. “Excluding Mexico, when compared with last year’s third quarter, more turkey shipments have been going to Hong Kong and Canada, while fewer have been going to the Dominican Republic and China.” Turkey exports were about 58.8 million pounds in September, an increase of 18 percent from the same time in 2010, the report noted. “Mexico and Hong Kong accounted for most of the increase from a year ago,” ERS said. “Shipments to Mexico increased 16 percent, while Hong Kong was up 56 percent. Given continued strength in turkey shipments, the fourth quarter projections were raised up 5 million pounds from (October estimates).”

GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012


Urban farm project brings food downtown By Sharon Dowdy

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATLANTA — A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but fresh vegetables will soon grow in the heart of Atlanta on a plot of land the city’s mayor has designated as an urban farming educational site. The 0.8-acre plot is located at 104 Trinity Ave. across from city hall. It was most recently the site of the city’s traffic court. A competition to select a design for the Trinity Avenue Farm closed Nov 1. Judges are currently reviewing designs submitted by Georgia designers. Work on the farm design will begin soon after the winner is selected. The winning design team will

be given $25,000 from WalMart, the major sponsor of the project. Other partners include the Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Sustainable Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council, the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Georgia Organics and Truly Living Well. UGA Cooperative Extension agents in Fulton County assisted by testing the soil on the site and recommending steps to prepare the soil for plants by spring 2012. The agents will provide support for the garden by educating the farm’s managers on community gardening and locally-grown foods. The demonstration project will support the City of Atlanta’s “Power to Change” sustainabil-

ity plan and its commitment to bring local food within 10 minutes of 75 percent of all residents by 2020. “Local, sustainable and organic food practices have numerous health and environmental benefits,” said Susan Varlamoff, UGA’s director of environmental sciences. “Local food is often fresher, eliminates negative externalities, such as carbon emissions, and supports our local economy. We applaud Mayor Reed and the city for joining the local food movement by showcasing urban agriculture right in the heart of downtown.” Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Organics

City farm project: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has a plan to turn a vacant lot into a demonstration farm. A competition is being held to select a design for the garden which will be planted in the spring. Shown during the plan’s announcement are, left to right, Susan Varlamoff of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Suzanne Burns of Sustainable Atlanta; Reed; and Karen Brewer-Edwards of Wal-Mart.

Soybean checkoff important to poultry ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The soybean checkoff talks a lot about U.S. soybean farmers’ number one customers — poultry and livestock farmers. But these sectors impact

more than just a soybean farmer’s profit potential. According to a recent soybean-checkoff-funded study, poultry and livestock supported 1.8 million U.S. jobs and added $19

•Space (Continued from page 11)

such as vegetables and meats are next on their agenda. These foods present a whole new set of food-safety challenges. “If we get enough oxygen out of these foods, anaerobic pathogenic organisms like Clostriduium botulinum, which causes the foodborne illness botulism, might start to grow,” Brody said. “But if we can simultaneously sterilize low-acid foods while removing the oxygen, we could get extraordinary results in low-acid products.” He envisions a day when canned foods enjoy a new level of quality as well. “We’re talking about canned food with the quality of frozen food and a shelf life of two years or more,” he said. “And it’s not merely

billion in tax revenue annually to the U.S. economy. “It’s important that we maintain and expand animal agriculture in the United States,” says Laura Foell, a

something for going to Mars. It would give us the ability to produce canned peaches that are just as good as fresh in terms of quality, aroma, and flavor. It’s not far away.” “Imagine the energy savings associated with storing foods at ambient instead of chilled or frozen temperatures,” said Wicker, “and the food product has as high quality as the chilled or frozen counterpart.” As the first researchers to start this kind of micro-oxygen work, they have problems to solve and new horizons to explore. “Even if we’re able to get oxygen levels down to parts per billion, we don’t yet have the instrumentation to read it,” she said. “We’re entering a brave new world in food processing.”

soybean farmer from Schaller, Iowa, and a farmer-leader for the United Soybean Board. “It helps grow our U.S. soybean industry but is also a way we can keep jobs here and know we are producing safe and reliable food.” That economic impact appears to be more than just a fad, the group noted. In fact, the poultry and livestock sectors increased household incomes by more than $4 bil-

lion during the last decade alone. Nearly 70 percent of that growth occurred west of the Mississippi River or right on its borders, but trends show growth occurring more evenly throughout the country. “This study shows the importance of animal agriculture not only to soybean farmers, but also to our local, state and national economies,” Foell

See Soybean, Page 14

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GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

UGA joins national team on climate change By April Sorrow

Special to Georgia Ag News

ATHENS — University of Georgia researchers recently joined a national team of scientists working on a fiveyear, $4.1-million USDA grant designed around climate change’s effects on animal agriculture. “Animal production is vitally important to Georgia’s economy,” said Mark Risse, an engineer with UGA Cooperative Extension who is leading the research at UGA.

“In 2009, poultry, beef cattle, dairy and swine accounted for nearly $5 billion of the agricultural value in Georgia. It is important to keep our animal producers informed of practices that are environmentally sound, climatically compatible and economically viable.” The goal of the USDA grant is to help livestock and poultry producers adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change, especially as they face new weather patterns or regulations put in place to limit

greenhouse gases. “In the Southeast, we are more interested in how our animals will respond to water,” Risse said. “As a region, the South is predominately poultry, so we will look heavily at the poultry industry and at what changes the industry may need to make and will focus on how to best equip producers to adapt to these changes.” Risse is working with the Southeast Climate Consortium to identify climate projections that may affect animal agri-

culture. The consortium is predicting more weather extremes — including more droughts and more flooding in the Southeast. Rainfall is expected to remain the same annually, but it will be delivered in more concentrated rainstorms. Temperature increases aren’t expected to be as great as those in other regions of the U.S. Risse, along with UGA Extension, will work with producers in Georgia and across the Southeast to develop strategies to help lower animal management’s impacts on the climate. “Roughly 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions nationally are due to agriculture production,” Risse said. “But if we get to a point where greenhouse gases from poultry and livestock farms are being regulated, we need to have mitigation strategies in place to help producers reduce their emissions.” With manure management, harnessing the gases as fuel is often a more economical practice than releasing it into the atmosphere, according to

Risse. “You can use those gases on the farm as fuel instead of just letting them escape to the atmosphere,” he said. This is the third in a series of grants on environmental issues and animal agriculture that the National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center have addressed. Previous projects have focused on air and water quality. The other universities involved in the project are University of Nebraska, Washington State University, Texas A&M University, Cornell University and University of Minnesota. The National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center will be the online resource for updated information. More information can be obtained at management. More information related to Southeastern climate change can be found at http://www.agroclimate. org. April Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

•Soybean (Continued from page 13)

Brad Haire/UGA

Cattle advisor web site: Beef cattle prices are high now and reached historic highs earlier in 2011. Facing drought and feed shortage, though, southeastern cattle producers still must make tough decisions when it comes to their financial bottom lines and keeping herds healthy. The Southeast Cattle Advisor web site — — was developed by cattle experts with the University of Georgia, Auburn University, University of Florida and Clemson University to be a one-stop shop for cattle producers to get information on how to best manage their risk.

said. “And animal agriculture helps local businesses by purchasing goods in local stores and creating local jobs.” Iowa and California won big for growth in earnings, jobs and tax revenue from animal agriculture, according to the study. Iowa added more than 19,000 jobs since 2000, while California added more than 17,000 in the same time period. These states added $176.2 million and $185.5 million in tax revenue respectively, the study found. Poultry and livestock consume 98 percent of domestic soybean meal each year and help increase the value of U.S. soybeans. The checkoff study showed most recently that consumption equaled 30 million tons of soybean meal, or the meal from approximately 1.2 billion bushels of soybeans annually. More information on the United Soybean Board can be obtained at

GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012


U.S. Navy ships to be powered by biofuel WASHINGTON — Dynamic Fuels LLC, a joint venture between Tyson Foods Inc. and Syntroleum Corp., has been awarded a contract to supply the U.S. Navy with 450,000 gallons of renewable fuels. Solazyme Inc., a renewable oil and bioproducts company, will help Dynamic Fuels fulfill the contract, which the Navy and the USDA report is the single largest purchase of biofuel in government history. The contract involves supplying the Navy with 100,000 gallons of jet fuel (Hydro-treated Renewable JP-5 or HRJ-5) and 350,000 gallons of marine

distillate fuel (Hydro-Treated Renewable F-76 or HRD-76). The fuel will be used as part of the Navy’s efforts to develop a “Green Strike Group” composed of vessels and ships powered by biofuel. The Navy contract follows on the heels of both companies’ involvement in historic commercial airline flights using biofuel. This includes Dynamic Fuels’ renewable jet fuel work with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Finnair, Thomson Airways and Alaska Airlines, and Solazyme’s recent flight and partnership with United

Airlines, which includes a letter of intent to provide 20 million gallons a year starting in 2014. The fuel for the Navy will be manufactured at Dynamic Fuel’s Geismar, La., renewable fuels plant using U.S.sourced yellow grease (used cooking oil) as well as Solazyme’s tailored algal oil as feedstocks. The fuel will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in May 2012. The Dynamic Fuels plant, which has been in operation for more than a year, is designed to convert non-food feedstocks such as algal oil, animal fats and greases into renewable fuels.

“This award clearly demonstrates that we’re building momentum for the sale and use of our renewable fuels,” said Jeff Bigger, director of the Dynamic Fuels LLC Management Committee. “We’ve previously provided the U.S. military with fuel for testing. We believe this contract confirms they recognize the performance and environmental advantages of our fuel since they’re coming back for more and are asking for a much larger volume.” “This is an historic contract and we are proud to be teaming up with Dynamic Fuels to pro-

duce and deliver the advanced biofuel to the U.S. Navy to sail the Great Green Fleet. Dynamic Fuels has been a leader in next generation advanced biofuels technology and this partnership further solidifies the progress that both of our companies are making in bringing advanced renewable fuels to commercialization,” said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO of Solazyme. “Solazyme is honored to be working with the U.S. Navy and DLA-Energy in driving forward the Navy’s effort under Secretary Ray Mabus to source 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.”

Who knew? Chicken feet are big business McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Finally some clarity to a question that long has bedeviled mankind: Why did the chicken cross the road? The answer: It was going global. Many Americans may be surprised to learn that the humble chicken is now synonymous with international trade. Twenty percent of U.S. chicken sales, by weight, go abroad. That point was driven home on Sept. 20 when U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced he was dragging China before the World Trade Organization to dispute charges that U.S. poultry exports are sold at unfairly low prices. The U.S. and China have ruffled each other’s feathers in recent years over restrictions imposed by each on poultry imports. But what wasn’t so clear in Kirk’s announcement is that the product being restricted by China was chicken feet. Yes, chicken feet. That’s not exactly a part of the bird most Americans fight over at the dinner table, and it speaks to the globalization of

the common chicken. “We’ve always had two feet and two wings and one head on every chicken we’ve raised. It wasn’t until about a little more than 10 years ago . . . that the U.S. industry discovered that China was a great market for chicken feet,” said James Rice, who ran operations in China for U.S. poultry giant Tyson Foods from 2004 to 2010. “Chicken foot has a higher value than breast meat in China. It’s a prized thing. It’s considered a very yummy delicacy. It might be our garbage, but it’s their breakfast, and it’s something they like.” There’s a global pecking order for who gets what. “If you think of our everyday backyard chicken, it’s a global product,” said Rice, who is now chief executive in China for Dutch pastry giant CSM Foods (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. “An American chicken producer has to get the maximum price for their product, so you cut a chicken into parts and U.S. consumers only eat breast meat, so the breast is sold in the United States.” “Legs and dark meat go to Russia, chicken feet go to China and the wings go to Hooters, and

when you get that right, you’ve maximized value for a chicken. So you need to get that chicken foot through to China,” he said. But a year ago, China slapped unfair trade penalties on American chicken feet. That was a retaliatory strike; China is upset that congressional Democrats pulled funding for a USDA program that would have allowed about a dozen Chinese companies to export processed chicken products to the United States. China had worked with the USDA to meet the same requirements as U.S. producers of cooked chicken and was angry that the funds were cut off after outbreaks of tainted milk and other food scandals in China. The two countries are now engaged in what might be called a high-stakes game of chicken. If negotiations in Geneva can’t produce a compromise, an arbitration process would begin. Meantime, U.S. poultry exporters are effectively locked out of the lucrative Chinese market by penalties that make their product too expensive. That’s helped Brazil, which in recent years passed the United States to become the

world’s biggest poultry exporter. If China remains closed to U.S. exports of chicken feet, it leaves U.S. exporters with little to replace a market that peaked at near $650 million just two years ago. That’s not chicken scratch, and U.S. producers will have to search for domestic sales, where it’s a buyer’s market for chicken feet. “Here it’s worth 2 cents per pound. In China, it could be 35 cents to 45 cents or more, depending on the maximum value of the foot. The highest price in the world is China,” Rice said. If U.S. producers are forced to sell chicken feet domestically, there are low-value uses for the

feet, such as inclusion in pet food, grinding them into animal feed or “rendering” them into fats and proteins. “That’s why the industry as a whole loses a lot by not having access to the Chinese market,” Rice said. Almost nothing on a chicken goes to waste. Feathers are sold to companies that grind them up because of the keratin they contain. The byproduct can be added to pet food and is an ingredient of plastic products. Innards are sold for specialty cooking.

See Feet, Page 16

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GEORGIA AG NEWS, January 2012

Texas researchers seek drought tolerant melons

USDA rolls out healthy eating theme

UVALDE, Texas — With drought conditions continuing, researchers with the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center have been focusing attention on improving varieties of more droughttolerant crops, particularly melons, said the center’s administrator. “We’re looking into improved varieties of melons, such as cantaloupe and honeydew, and are growing and assessing some Spanish and Italian specialty melons that are relatively new to this area,” said Dr. Daniel Leskovar, Texas AgriLife Research vegetable physiologist and interim center director. Leskovar said the goal of the research is to identify and produce melons with consumer-preferred characteristics, such as size, shape, color, texture, firmness and sugar content, as well as identify or develop other traits to improve them. “In our melon breeding program, we’ve been evaluating the more well-known Texas-grown cantaloupe varieties for several years, but we’ve only been evaluating the possibility of commercially producing Spanish, Italian and other specialty melons for the past few years,” he said. He also noted that in addition to melon look, feel and taste, he and other researchers have been assessing overall food quality, yield, and disease and drought resistance. “We’ve been interested in the possibility of specialty melons such as Tuscan-type melons with orange flesh, Galia-type melons with green flesh and canary types with near-white flesh, from the perspective of how they might fare as a high-value, high-income crop for Texas producers,” he said. “We’ve also been examining the effects of factors such as deficit irrigation on their growth and productivity.”

WASHINGTON — On Sept. 7, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack announced the first themed message, “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables,” supporting the new MyPlate food icon and first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative through a new national private-sector partnership program. “We know that consumers are inundated with multiple nutrition messages that it make it difficult to focus on changes that are necessary to improve their diet,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to helping Americans make healthier food choices and our MyPlate symbol is a great reminder to think before we eat. By working with our national partners we can coordinate and amplify efforts to promote healthy eating tips like ‘Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables’ that serve as easy to understand reminders that we can all incorporate into our daily lives.” USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion has called upon its 44 National Strategic Partners and more than 3,500 Community Partners to amplify this message nationwide. National Strategic Partners are organizations, such as corporations and associations, that are national

•Feet (Continued from page 15)

Even the carcasses from deboned chickens have use, yielding meat that is mechanically removed in almost a paste form and sold to companies that make deli meats and sausages. Chicken wasn’t a staple of international trade until the end of the Cold War. Before that, poultry exports weren’t much to cluck about, other than a small amount shipped out as foreign aid. “What really started it in earnest was when the Soviet Union fell in 1989,” said Toby Moore, vice president of, and spokesman for, the USA Poultry & Egg

Leskovar said in spite of this year’s drought, the center’s fields dedicated to melon production saw “exceptional growth and yield.” From center production data, Leskovar estimates that early or “right” planted melons, those planted from mid-March to mid-April of this year, would have produced up to 85,000 kilos of total production of melons per hectare. Later-planted melons were estimated to have potentially produced about 50,000 kilos per hectare. “From these totals, we had up to 75 percent marketable melons,” Leskovar said. “We grew these melons using drip irrigation and are assessing the use of varying amounts of irrigation to determine the effects on melon growth. Melon production is similar to that of peppers in that drip irrigation is the key, along with proper bed population and mulching of the beds.” Melon varieties were planted at three different locations including a study at the Uvalde center where plants were given 50 percent and 100 percent irrigation to determine effects on yield, quality and root management, said Sat Pal Sharma, graduate research assistant at the Uvalde center. “We discovered that some melon varieties still provided excellent yields with only 50 percent irrigation when applied after the young transplants are fully established, and that one specialty melon produced as well or better than a traditionally planted variety, Sharma said. “Potentially this could mean that a producer could make a lot more from planting the higher-value specialty melon instead.” “We’re hoping the results of the work we’re doing . . . will enable us to expand and implement melon production of both traditional and the newer specialty melon varieties . . .,” Leskovar said.

Export Council in Atlanta. “The first (President George H.W.) Bush offered a food aid program to Russia. Part of that food aid was commodity shipments of U.S. chicken leg quarters, and the industry saw an opportunity to export parts that weren’t particularly in demand here,” Moore said. “They saw an opportunity to ship them overseas and make a little money . . . and chicken leg quarters were almost seen as manna from heaven. Out of that grew a thriving industry.” In 1991, U.S. broiler exports to Russia were valued around $10.7 million. By 2000, the value had grown to more than $305 million. In 2006, it was above $725 million.

China sales grew more recently, from a modest $95 million in 2005, to more than $239 million in 2006. By 2009 they exceeded $647 million, only to plunge during the dispute in 2010, to $135 million. China’s action against U.S. chicken feet affected producers across much of the U.S. Southeast, including Georgia, the nation’s leading poultry producer. Officials there are closely following the dispute with China. Atlanta is a hub for many of the large trading companies that send chickens on their international journey. The Port of Savannah boasts the busiest poultry-export operation in the country, moving about 40 percent of all U.S. containerized exports of poultry. It handled 1.6 billion pounds of poultry during

in scope. Community Partners are organizations, such as health clinics, schools, gyms and weight loss centers, churches, doctors, etc., that serve local, state or regional individuals and families. More information about the partnership programs can be obtained at http:// New messages in the months to come will include “Enjoy Your Food, But Eat Less;” “Drink Water Instead of Sugary Drinks;” “Make at Least Half Your Grains Whole Grains;” and “Avoid Oversized Portions.” USDA and its partners will find innovative ways to deliver the easy-to-adopt how-to’s for these messages to empower consumers to make healthier food choices, the department said. Originally identified in the Child Obesity Task Force report which noted that simple, actionable advice for consumers is needed, MyPlate will replace the MyPyramid image as the government’s primary food group symbol as an easy-tounderstand visual cue to help consumers adopt healthy eating habits consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, USDA said.

the fiscal year that ended June 30, moving more than 67,000 20-foot containers. Poultry is Savannah’s fourth-largest export product by volume, close behind fabric products, and trailing wood pulp and paper products. Savannah’s port leaders gave the green light on Sept. 26 to spend $4.75 million on construction of additional refrigerated cargo racks for poultry that will provide even more space for stacking refrigerated shipping containers. “Not only are we handling this commodity now, we’re creating a larger footprint and expanding our capacity to more even greater poultry exports in the future,” said Robert Morris, a spokesman for the Georgia Ports Authority.

Georgia Ag January 2012  

Georgia Ag January 2012

Georgia Ag January 2012  

Georgia Ag January 2012