The Buzz

Paying tribute to an animal science legend.

Our condolences to the family of retired beef specialist John Brethour, who worked at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center in Hays. Brethour died May 29 after battling cancer…

  • Brethour, who pioneered the use of ultrasound in predicting carcass quality in beef animals, earning a number of awards and honors for his work, including winning the $100,000 grand prize in the National Western Stock Show Carcass Challenge contest in 2003. He retired in 2006, the same year he earned the Livestock and Meat Industry Council's "Stockman of the Year" award…
  • Onto the week's news: Small-scale and organic farmers are concerned that Kansas State University does not do enough to help these folks meet growing demand for their produce, according to an article in the May 28 Topeka Capital-Journal. K-State focuses too much on big agriculture, says Mary Fund, editor of the Kansas Rural Center's Rural Papers publication…
  • "It's not that they don't do anything. It's that they don't do enough. They're just following the money, and right now, there's not a lot of money in sustainable agriculture," Fund says…
  • K-State, meanwhile, says much of its research is "size-neutral." "When we develop wheat that's disease resistant, it doesn't benefit just the industrial-agriculture model or just the sustainable model, it benefits both," says Bill Hargrove, director at the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment at K-State. "I think that's true for a lot of things we do…"
  • It's not often that an agriculture story cracks the front page of the Kansas City Star, but the May 27 edition leads off with a story about the promise of camelina, a European crop grown on marginal soil in the northwest U.S. that produces more oil than soybeans, sunflowers and even canola and could be a breakthrough for biodiesel…
  • A biotech company called Targeted Growth is working to increase camelina yields drastically and hopes to have enough seed to plant 1 million acres by 2009. Currently, about half a million acres are planted to camelina, the article says…
  • "There are challenges, but of all the crops I have worked with over the years, this has the most promise," says Don Wysocki, an Oregon State University associate professor in Pendleton, of camelina…
  • Every 1,000 pounds of camelina seed crushed produces 400 pounds of oil. The rest can be used as high-quality livestock feed…
  • Meanwhile, to encourage farmers to grow more crops targeted for biofuel production, Montana Sen. Jon Tester has introduced Senate Bill 1242, the Biofuel Crop Insurance Pilot Program, which would protect previously difficult-to-insure, potential biofuel crops such as canola and camelina…
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