Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine News

Demand for goat meat seen as opportunity for Iowa producers

Goat meat is the most consumed meat in the world. The demand for goat meat in the United States outstrips the domestic supply. Demand also is growing in Iowa as immigrants from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America move into the state. In a two-year project funded in February 2005 by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, researchers are assessing the demand for goat meat among immigrants living in the Sioux City area. They also are exploring ways to connect producers and consumers of goat meat. Betty Wells, sociology professor and extension sociologist, leads the project. Wells also is involved in a feasibility study of the rural development benefits of goat browsing to control invasive vegetation in the Loess Hills of western Iowa. Contact Wells, (515) 294-1104; Dan Morrical, animal science, (515) 294-0847; Mary Holz-Clause, Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, (515) 294-0648; or Laura Miller, Leopold Center communications, (515) 294-5272.

Illinois bundleflower: Possible third crop for Iowa?

Farmers looking for ways to increase their profitability while limiting negative environmental consequences will be interested in research underway at Iowa State University. Experimental plots of Illinois bundleflower, a native perennial legume, were established in 2003 on an Iowa State research farm west of Ames. Forage productivity and quality and seed yield were measured in 2004 and 2005. The data collected so far shows Illinois bundleflower, both by itself and in mixtures with cool and warm season grasses, can produce acceptable forage quality and seed yield in central Iowa. This spring, two demonstration plots are being established on a private farm near Maxwell. The same monitoring used on the experimental plots will be done on the demonstration plots. A field day will be held in 2007. This project has three outcomes -- scientific evidence of the feasibility of introducing a native legume species into a diverse perennial cropping system in Iowa; information on the management of Illinois bundleflower as a forage and/or grain crop; and increased awareness among producers of the benefits of perennial third crops. Funding has been provided by the federal Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and Practical Farmers of Iowa. Contact Charles Brummer, agronomy, (515) 294-1415; Valentin Picasso, sustainable agriculture graduate student, (515) 294-6795; or Susan Thompson, agriculture communications, (515) 294-0705.

Fostering culinary tourism in Iowa

Iowa's rural communities have a full plate of food festivals each year, with celebrations for everything from sauerkraut to sweet corn to strawberries. These special events make up the fastest growing sector in the tourism industry, but what are their economic impacts in Iowa? In a project funded by the Marketing and Food Systems Initiative of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University, researchers are looking for the answer. As part of the project, 180 people who attended one of 11 northeast Iowa food festivals were interviewed between June and Oct. 2005. Total attendance at the festivals was estimated at about 36,200 people. The survey estimated that festival visitors spent approximately $1.6 million, which resulted in a total economic impact of about $2.6 million, or an additional 61 cents for every $1 spent at the festivals. The survey also revealed that visitors were willing to pay more for locally produced food, indicating a potential for these festivals to grow as economic development tools for the region. The Leopold Center worked on the project with the University of Northern Iowa's Sustainable Tourism and Environment Program (STEP) and the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area. Contact Rich Pirog, Leopold Center, (515) 294-1854; Jill Lankford, UNI, (319) 273-5826; Ariana Cela, UNI, (319) 273-6819; or Laura Miller, Leopold Center communications, (515) 294-5272.

(Note to editors: A report of project results is on the Leopold Center Web site. The final report is on the STEP Web site. The study included these and other festivals: the Dows Corn Days, Aug. 5-6, Wright County; Lisbon's Sauerkraut Days, Aug. 11-13, Linn County; Blairstown Sauerkraut Days, Sept. 2-4, Benton County; and LeClaire's Apple Festival, Oct. 9, Scott County.)

ISU project looks at impact of rural developments on secondary roads

How much wear and tear do housing subdivisions and confined animal feeding operations have on Iowa's gravel roads? Two Iowa State University community and regional planners are teaming up to study the effect that developments -- both residential and livestock -- have on secondary roads in rural Iowa. Their goal is to develop a simple impact assessment tool that county governments can use to project costs and benefits of rural developments relative to the gravel road network. Gary Taylor, assistant professor and extension community and regional planning specialist, and David Plazak, associate director of the Center for Transportation Research and Education, are conducting the research with a grant from the Iowa Highway Research Board. They will combine data from case studies in Boone, Madison and Marshall counties to develop and test the spreadsheet tool. "We want to give county engineers and zoning administrators better tools for decision making," Taylor said. "This project is a direct line from conducting the research to developing a product that people can use." Taylor and Plazak also will develop a manual and conduct a workshop to train local officials. Contact Taylor, (515) 294-2973; Plazak, (515) 296-0814; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.