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News for April 4, 2010

On Job Creation—Local Fruits and Vegetables vs. Corn and Soybeans

It turns out that foods that are better for you may also be better for farmers and local job creation. A new study by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University found that expanding fruit and vegetable production in the upper Midwest could bring significantly more economic benefits than conventional corn and soybean production on the same acreage.

The study, by Iowa State Research Scientist Dave Swenson, looked at the potential for fruit and vegetable production in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It identified 28 kinds of fruits and vegetables that farmers are able to grow in the region. Currently, much of the fruits and vegetables in the region come from other parts of the country or even outside the country.

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76 Groups Representing Tens of Millions Implore USDA to Immediately Strengthen Protections Against Mad Cow Disease

Washington, D.C. R-CALF USA today, along with 75 other organizations that represent tens of millions of Americans, sent formal correspondence to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to request that the agency immediately strengthen protections against Canada's ongoing problems with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease. The groups' letter is in response to the disclosure this month of Canada's 18th case of BSE in a Canadian-born animal, which also is the 11th case of BSE in a Canadian cow that met USDA's age requirements to enter the United States. USDA's relaxed import standards are putting not only U.S. beef consumers at risk, but also the U.S. cattle herd and the livelihoods of independent U.S. cattle producers.

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Cows are key to 2,500 years of human progress

The Romans, as Monty Python famously acknowledged, have done many things for us. Contrary to popular wisdom, however, improving our diet was not one of them.

A study of the remains of almost 20,000 people dating from the 8th century BC to the 18th century AD has found that the Roman empire reduced our level of nutrition, which increased again in the "dark ages".

That is because the key factor in determining average height over the centuries – an indicator of nutritional status and wellbeing – has been an increase in milk consumption due to improved farming. Higher population densities and the need to feed the army during Roman times may have worked against this.

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