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Spring 2014
Vol. 5, No. 2
In This Issue
From the Director's Office

Justin Morris, nationally noted grape and wine researcher, dies at 77

Winrock International honors Arkansas scientist with President's Service Award

Beef producers hear research reports during livestock field day

Agriculture honor society recognizes faculty, student accomplishments

U of A System Division of Ag taps Sam's Club PR manager, restructures communications

Division of Agriculture, Riceland Foods enter joint effort in CLA productiont

National Agricultural Law Center offers assistance to Congress in revising fish and wildlife law

Entomologist testifies before congressional appropriations subcommittee

Food safety practices for fresh produce at farmers markets target of research project

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From the Director's Office


Clarence Watson
By Clarence E. Watson,
Director, Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
  We're always glad to report on positive developments out of Washington that enable our research programs to cover more ground. The federal budget that was enacted a few months ago contains increased funding for federal agricultural programs at the nation's land-grant universities. Funding was restored to these programs to make up what they had lost in the previous year (FY-13) from the congressional sequestration process, a mechanism for across-the-board budget cuts. In addition to restoring the sequestration cuts, support went up by more than 3 percent for several key programs administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

 Of particular interest to us at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture are the national programs that support our activities: the Hatch Act, which supports agricultural research at the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station; the Smith-Lever Act, which supports the work of the Cooperative Extension Service; the McIntire-Stennis Act, which supports forestry research at the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, and the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, a competitive grant program administered by USDA-NIFA. Each of these programs has realized increased funding for the FY-14 fiscal year.

We're particularly grateful to leaders in Congress who crafted the legislation in support of our efforts. They include Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee; Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee; Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama, chair of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, and Rep. Sam Farr of California, ranking member of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. These productive partnerships make possible the research and services that our personnel provide to the public.

Earlier this year Congress also passed a new farm bill, known as the Agricultural Reform And Risk Management Act of 2013.  It contains a long list of provisions but we want to call attention two that are of interest to many of our AAES personnel. One is the reauthorization of the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, funded at $100 million over the next five years, and the the Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) funded at $500 million over the next five years. The other is the section of the law that establishes a new uniform matching requirement for NIFA competitive grants. The law states that land-grant institutions such as the University of Arkansas are exempt from those new matching funds requirements.

* * *

The level of research expenditures by the AAES went up during fiscal year 2013, which ended last fall on Sept. 30. According to preliminary figures compiled by USDA, our expenditures for that year were $63,722,070, an increase from the fiscal year 2012 amount of $63,150,995.

The National Science Foundation keeps track of institutions' expenditures on agricultural research. For fiscal year 2012 - the most recent year available from NSF - the AAES was ranked 19th nationally for such expenditures, up from 21st place that we had held for the previous five years.

The AAES faculty deserves congratulations for many jobs well done that made good use of the resources provided by the state of Arkansas, Congress, and our clientele.

* * *

On May 7 and 8 a delegation from the Division of Agriculture traveled to Washington to participate in observances of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act, the legislation that founded the Cooperative Extension Service nationwide. The event looked into the future toward Extension's plans for continued educational programming for farmers, families, youth, communities and businesses in the next 100 years. The AAES is proud of its partnership with the Cooperative Extension Service in Arkansas to advance the overall work of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.  We extend congratulations to Cooperative Extension on their 100th anniversary.
Justin Morris, nationally noted grape and wine researcher, dies at 77


Justin Morris
Justin Roy Morris, a nationally prominent University of Arkansas professor who provided research, teaching, leadership and service to the grape and wine industries for more than 40 years, died Monday, May 19. He was 77.

He was born Feb. 20, 1937, near Nashville, Ark., in Howard County, the son of Roy and Leecie Morris.

Morris, of Springdale, was a 1954 graduate of Nashville High School. He went on to earn B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. degree from Rutgers University. Prior to his retirement in 2009, Morris was a Distinguished Professor in the Food Science Department and Director of the Institute of Food Science and Engineering at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

He served as the Executive Vice President of Ozark Food Processors Association for more than 30 years.  He was a Fellow of the American Society of Horticultural Sciences and the Institute of Food Technologists, as well as a lifetime member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture, or ASEV, and ASEV-Eastern Section. He received the Joseph Harvey Gourley Award in Pomology in 1979. He received the ASEV Merit Award in 1996, the Food Industry's Forty-Niner's Service National Award in 1998, the Pioneer Award of Missouri Grape and Wine Industry in 1998 and the American Wine Society Award of Merit in 1999. He also received the Norman J. Childers Award for Distinguished Graduate Teaching 1983.

In addition, he received numerous awards for his research and teaching at the University of Arkansas including the Spitze Land-Grant University Award for Excellence in 1997 and the John W. White Outstanding Research Award in 1983. He was inducted as a Supreme Knight by the Order of Knights of the Vine in 2004, to the Arkansas Horticulture Hall for Fame in 2005, and to the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2009. Morris published more than 410 research and trade articles, 30 book chapters and two books. Many of Morris' former students are actively working and serving the grape/wine and food processing industries.

"Dr. Morris was a dear friend of the Department of Food Science," said Jean-Francois Meullenet, head of the department. "He was the most accomplished and celebrated scientist our department has ever had. He served as a great role model for me when I first joined the department in 1996. Justin taught me a lot about being successful in academia and about leadership."

"Dr. Morris and his close colleague, Distinguished Professor Emeritus James N. Moore, were truly inspirational to a generation of students that had the opportunity to study with them and join with them in their many years of collaboration," said John R. Clark, University professor of horticulture. "They truly showed many of us how to make a difference in Arkansas, the United States, and world."

He is survived by his wife, the former Ruby Blackwood, to whom he was married 58 years; children: Linda Ramage and her husband Phillip of Nashville and Mike Morris of Johnson; grandchildren: Drew Gibbs and his wife Katie Beth of Springdale; Page Brawley of Conway; and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and grandson, Chris Townsend.

A private graveside service will be held May 23 at County Line Cemetery near Nashville. There will be a memorial service at 2 p.m. June 6 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Fayetteville. The family requests that contributions in lieu of flowers be made to the Ozark Food Processors Association-Justin R. Morris Scholarship at OFPA, 2650 N. Young Ave., Fayetteville, Ark. 72704 or the Food Science Department Justin Morris Endowed Scholarship at Food Science Department, 2650 N. Young Ave., Fayetteville, Ark. 72704.

Winrock International honors Arkansas scientist with President's Service Award


Jim Correll uses his laptop to show specific disease symptoms to tomato growers and how to use cultural practices to reduce the disease damage during a volunteer agricultural mission with Winrock International in 2013.

Jim Correll was in Liberia last year to help farmers solve disease problems in their rice and tomato crops. He was part of a team of scientists sent by Winrock International to work on agricultural production problems in that country.

Liberia has a humid, wet climate that promotes fungal diseases. Correll, a professor of plant pathology for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, is a leading authority on diseases of rice and vegetables. "We were coming up with ways to manage disease problems on those two crops," he said.

After he returned from Liberia, Correll was presented the President's Volunteer Service Award, a national honor issued by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. The group was created by President George W. Bush to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers make to the country.

Correll also received the award in 2005 and 2008.

(See full article at http://arkansasagnews.uark.edu/8113.htm.)



Beef producers hear research reports during livestock field day


Tom Yazwinski, an animal scientist for the Division of Agriculture, discusses control products and strategies for parasitic worms in cattle during a livestock field day.
Arkansas beef producers aren't known for being squeamish. Nevertheless, it was probably best that animal science professor Tom Yazwinski waited until after lunch to discuss his research on parasitic worms.

Yazwinski was the last presenter at a livestock field day held April 15 at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture's Livestock and Forestry Research Station near Batesville.

About 95 people attended the field day to hear about division research aimed at improving cattle health, reproduction and profitability.

Yazwinski said he considered titling his presentation, "It's a great time to be a parasite."

"There have been no new treatment compounds developed for worms since 1982," Yazwinski said. Parasitic worms have had more than 30 years to develop resistance to the existing medicines, he said, and they're pretty good at it.

Parasite control is important, Yazwinski said, because worms can cause a lot of damage and even death to cattle. He said it's not possible to eradicate parasites, but they can be controlled to maintain healthy cattle.

(See full article at http://arkansasagnews.uark.edu/8085.htm.)


Agriculture honor society recognizes faculty, student accomplishments


From left, faculty award winners Mike Richardson, Ashley Dowling and Elena Garcia. 

The Arkansas chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta, the honor society of agriculture, presented its annual achievement awards April 11 to faculty and students. Chapter president Ken Coffey, professor of animal science in the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, presided at the ceremony and Mike Popp, professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness, distributed the awards during ceremonies on campus.

Three faculty awards were presented to:

* Mike Richardson, professor of horticulture, who received the Research Award of Excellence;
* Ashley Dowling, associate professor of entomology, who received the Teaching Award of Excellence;

* Elena Garcia, professor of horticulture, who received the Extension Award of Excellence.

Richardson's research program is in turfgrass management with a focus on fertilizer management, proper species selection and novel methods of quantifying turfgrass color and quality. His program has been fully integrated to include work with visiting scholars, postdoctoral students, doctoral students, master's students and undergraduates. Last year he was a visiting scholar and scientist at Padova University in Italy.

Dowling has received strong praise from former students for the effort he devotes to teaching. Entomology department head Robert Wiedenmann said students universally respected Dowling regardless of how well they did in his classes. "He has excelled in the classroom, inspiring students from our college as well as from across campus," Wiedenmann said. "(Dowling) expects a tremendous amount from all students, regardless of their background, and they respond extremely well."

Garcia, who serves as an Extension fruit and nut specialist, has concentrated on delivering an integrated education and research program in which horticulture, economic and pest management principles and practices are used to help growers maintain a sustainable agricultural system. She conducts an outreach program across the state through workshops, on-farm visits, office consultations and blogs. Her outreach programs have helped the state's pecan industry stabilize and grow. She has received several awards and honors and has served on numerous professional boards and committees.

Students receiving scholarships from the society were Fengyi Zhu, a human environmental sciences major who was awarded the Gamma Sigma Delta Scholarship; Hannah Newberry, an animal science major who received the Lippert Ellis Scholarship, and Claire Crews, an animal science major who was awarded the John W. White Scholarship.

Awards were presented to students for oral and poster presentations on research topics in their disciplines at the undergraduate, master's and doctoral levels. A list of the winners and their presentations' titles is online at http://gsd.uark.edu/awards.student.program14.html.




U of A System Division of Ag taps Sam's Club PR manager, restructures communications

Mark Scott
Mary Hightower
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is restructuring its public outreach, hiring a chief communications officer to guide strategy and combining two of its communications units under a single director.

The U of A System Division of Agriculture is a statewide campus that conducts research and delivers education in all 75 Arkansas counties.
The Division's focus is defined by the 1862 Morrill Act, which established land grant colleges, the 1887 Hatch Act, establishing the Agricultural Experiment Stations and the 1914 Smith-Lever Act which established the Cooperative Extension Service.  

The Division has tapped Mark Scott, public relations manager for Sam's Clubs, to serve as its chief communications officer. Mary Hightower was selected as director-communications services to oversee tactical aspects, supervising communications units for the Cooperative Extension Service and the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

"Our top-flight faculty and staff address such a broad range of public needs, a strong communications team is critical not only to strongly define our identity to the public, but also to reach new audiences who might benefit from our work," said Mark Cochran, UA vice president-agriculture, and head of the Division of Agriculture. "With Mark Scott's hiring, we look forward to setting this team to work. Between Mark and Mary's leadership, we look forward to expanding the role of the communications unit within our Division operations."

See full article at http://arkansasagnews.uark.edu/8119.htm.)


Division of Agriculture, Riceland Foods enter joint effort in CLA production



Riceland Foods of Stuttgart and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have reached agreement to cooperate in research aimed at commercializing technology to produce soy oil rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA-rich soy oil has health benefits that can reduce obesity-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

"CLA-rich oil production creates the opportunity to provide the consumer with nutritionally significant amounts of CLA in a variety of foods while enhancing the food textural properties and providing a potential alternative to partially hydrogenated fats," said Andrew Proctor, University Professor of food science in the Division of Agriculture, who is leading the research effort.

Fat that has been hydrogenated starts out as liquid oil that is solidified by adding hydrogen. Physicians generally recommend that consumers reduce their consumption of hydrogenated or saturated fats. CLA-rich oil appears to have the "hardness" properties that may allow it to serve as a substitute for hydrogenated oil. Also, the importance of CLA-rich oil has increased since the federal Food and Drug Administration proposed in November to revoke the "generally recognized as safe" status for partially hydrogenated oils. CLA has had that status in many foods since 2008.

One of the research project's objectives is to evaluate the quality of products based in CLA-rich soy oil for their potential use in salad oils, shortenings and margarine and as a substitute for partially hydrogenated oils, which are a source of trans fat.

Division of Agriculture food scientists found that current processing equipment would need to be adapted to make possible commercial-scale production of CLA-rich oil products. To produce CLA-rich oil, they modified a steam distillation process known as oil deodorization. The Division has filed a U.S. patent to protect the production technology modifying the deodorization process. The agreement with Riceland will advance the commercialization of the process by adapting the small-scale production practices to industrial production levels.

(See full article at http://arkansasagnews.uark.edu/8052.htm.)   




National Agricultural Law Center offers assistance to Congress in revising fish and wildlife law 

Harrison Pittman (left), director of the National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, testifies Feb. 27 in Washington before the House Fisheries, Wildlife and Insular Affairs Subcommittee.
A federal law on the books since 1900 regulating interstate game and fish shipments is causing concern among aquaculture producers and others who are worried about the heavy penalties - up to $250,000 for individuals - they could face for an inadvertent violation of the statute, a University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture official told a congressional panel on Feb. 27.

Harrison Pittman, director of the National Agricultural Law Center, testified before the House Fisheries, Wildlife and Insular Affairs Subcommittee during its consideration of a bill introduced by Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas. The pending measure, the Aquaculture Risk Reduction Act (H.R. 3105), would amend the 114-year-old law known as Lacey Act so that it would no longer apply to animals accidentally included in shipments of aquatic species that are commercially produced for human consumption or recreational and ornamental purposes.

Pittman offered Congress the resources of the National Agricultural Law Center in its consideration of Crawford's legislation and other issues regarding the Lacey Act. The law's provisions apply to the aquaculture industry in Arkansas, which ranked third nationally in 2012 catfish production with 20 million pounds of the product valued at $17.4 million.

Pittman said aquaculture producers "have expressed concerns that it is often very difficult or impossible for them to know with confidence what the applicable laws are in a particular state, whether they are required to obtain a permit or other documentation in order to transport products from or into a state, and how that permit or other documentation can be obtained."

(See full article at http://arkansasagnews.uark.edu/8026.htm.)


Entomologist testifies before congressional appropriations subcommittee


Rob Wiedenmann
Rob Wiedenmann, head of the department of entomology in the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, was invited to testify April 10 before a congressional appropriations subcommittee regarding fiscal year 2015 funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Forest Service.

Wiedenmann was invited to testify on behalf of the Entomological Society of America, for which he serves as Past-President, according to a news release from the society. His testimony addressed the importance of scientifically based environmental oversight provided by the EPA regarding regulation of pesticides that support agricultural growers and EPA's proposed involvement in the new Pollinator Health Initiative. He also provided details about the critical roles that the U.S. Forest Service plays in mitigating the effects of invasive insects and weeds in the nation's forests.

Wiedenmann testified before the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies in the Rayburn House Office Building. The full news release from ESA, including a link to Wiedenmann's testimony, is online at http://entsoc.org/press-releases/esa-past-president-testifies-congressional-subcommittee.


Food safety practices for fresh produce at farmers markets target of research project


Improvement of food safety practices by fresh produce vendors at farmers markets is the goal of a major research project being led by the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. One expected result of the work is development of web- and smartphone-accessible food safety materials for market vendors, managers and consumers.

The $414,185 project is a three-year effort supported by a competitive grant award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute for Food and Agriculture. Kristen Gibson, assistant professor of food science in the Division, is the project director.

"The end goal of this study is to equip vendors and market managers with both scientifically-based and practical educational material that will reduce the likelihood of a foodborne illness outbreak," Gibson said. At least 50 farmers markets in Arkansas sell fresh produce with each market having from 15 to 40 vendors, providing the research team the opportunity to reach an estimated 1,400 farmers and producers. Through channels such as the Community, Local, and Regional Food Systems practice area of eXtension, a web-based information network; the Farmers Market Coalition and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, the team's educational materials will be available to more than 60,000 farmers nationwide who participate in 7,100 farmers markets.

Working with Gibson on the research team are co-project directors Sujata Sirsat and Jack Neal, who are both on the hotel and restaurant management faculty at the University of Houston, and project collaborator Daniel Henroid, director of nutrition and food services at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center.

The team will conduct online focus group surveys of farmers market vendors and managers nationwide to identify their current food safety practices and what training materials they use. Online focus groups will also be developed to find out about managers' and vendors' needs and concerns regarding food safety. Consumers in Arkansas and Texas will also be surveyed online and in person at farmers markets to determine their perceptions of the safety of produce sold there.

(See full article at http://arkansasagnews.uark.edu/8114.htm.)