Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine and Natural Resources News

February 20th, 2003

The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 allowed United States' food and agricultural products into Cuba for the first time in 40 years. Opening Cuba's borders to U.S. exports sparked little enthusiasm at first from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture or State. But recent trips by the Iowa trade delegation to Cuba have discovered what could be a lucrative market for Iowa agricultural interests, according to Tom Rial of the Iowa Export Assistance Center and Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center. Writing in the latest edition of the Iowa Ag Review, the newsletter of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at Iowa State University, Rial cites a study that concludes Iowa could gain more than $70 million in agricultural sales to Cuba, with an additional spin-off of more than $206 million into the Iowa economy. Rial says with aggressive marketing efforts, Iowa pork, beef, processed egg products, animal feed, and soy protein and oil could flourish in Cuban markets. An Iowa company, FC Stone, has already secured a $5 million contract for corn and soybeans. But trade with Cuba is far from easy, and future success depends on such factors as recovery of the country's economy and further liberalization of the Cuban trade regime. Rial says interested firms should do their homework and seek out prospective distributors. The full text of the article is available at Contact Sandy Clarke, CARD communications, (515) 294-6257; or e-mail

Iowa State University faculty are leaders in a three-state educational effort for beef, dairy and sheep producers. Bovine veterinarian Dr. Annette O' Connor, animal scientist Marjorie Faust and economist John Lawrence joined colleagues at the National Animal Disease Center, the University of Nebraska and Kansas State University to develop a program to help producers use the principles of biosecurity to reduce the risk and impact of infectious diseases—like BVD, Johne's disease and neospora. "As the size of their operations grow, beef and dairy producers are starting to understand that they need to use additional biosecurity measures to reduce the risk of infections spreading," O'Connor said. "Even small producers can greatly benefit from a biosecurity program." With a $250,000 grant from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, the three-state consortium is developing educational materials and training that extension staff and veterinarians can use with producers in their areas. Train-the-trainer workshops will be held in all three states in early summer. Topics include biosecurity and zoonotic diseases, causes of livestock diseases, economics of disease prevention and specific species considerations for on-farm biosecurity. Contact O'Connor, (515) 294-5012; or Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778.

A great deal of interest has been expressed by producers and potential business ventures about ethanol production in Iowa and other Midwest states. In order to meet that demand, the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), located at Iowa State University, developed and refined an online ethanol pre-feasibility model with Co-Bank, a financial institution. The Web site introduces business issues about ethanol production with information about the potential of building ethanol plants. Ethanol market conditions, grain supply and prices, transportation choices, environmental issues, energy costs, federal and state incentives and funding alternatives are some of the variables that must be understood and managed before embarking on an ethanol venture. This Web site helps producers understand how these economic factors operate in successful—and less than successful—combinations before they proceed with an in-depth analysis of a specific opportunity. The site can be accessed at For more information, visit AgMRC at, or call (866) 277-5567. Contact Christa Hartsook, AgMRC communications, (515) 294-4430.

Understanding the basics of swine ventilation can help producers reduce stress and disease, says Jay Harmon, ISU associate professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering. Harmon and ISU Extension field specialists Kris Kohl, Dave Stender and Jerry Weiss helped develop the concept of building a portable room for hands-on demonstration and practice of properly ventilating swine buildings. The model ventilation training room on wheels is making the rounds of four states, thanks to the cooperation between four universities: Iowa State, South Dakota State, Minnesota and Nebraska. The model gives producers and their employees an opportunity to learn about ventilation and temperature systems, and to practice setting controls, inlets and fans in an actual building. The daylong program, "Managing your unseen employee: the ventilation system," will be March 4, at the ISU Northwest Research Farm, Calumet; and March 5, at Iowa State Bank, Sac City. Cost is $40 per person and includes handouts, breaks and lunch. Registration is limited and must be received two days prior to the program. To pre-register by phone, call (800) 767-5287. Contact Harmon, (515) 294-0554; or Sherry Hoyer, Iowa Pork Industry Center communications, (515) 294-4496.