Friday Notes is designed to enhance communication among various agricultural sectors, educators, students, and the public who are interested in a variety of plant, animal, food, and environmental issues. Friday Notes advocates the pursuit of credible, unbiased, science-based information. Material contained in linked articles is from the original authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of CAST.
CAST Updates
CAST Board Updates
There are four new people on the Board of Representatives:
  • John Hinz, representing North Central Weed Science Society - Plant Work Group
  • John Jones, representing The Fertilizer Institute - Plant Work Group
  • Kathryn (Katy) Proudfoot, American Dairy Science Association - Animal Work Group
  • Curtis Youngs, representing Iowa State University - Animal Work Group
Click. Contribute. Communicate.
Please support CAST's efforts to communicate credible science through membership or a donation today. CAST's success in countering misinformation and continuing as a voice for sound science in the future—as we have in the past—depends on your membership and donations. If you are already a CAST member—and haven’t renewed yet for 2021—please renew today!
2021 Borlaug CAST Communication Award
Nominations OpenApplications Due February 1
The Borlaug CAST Communication Award (BCCA) is an honor that recognizes professionals actively working in the agricultural, environmental, or food sectors who are promoting agricultural science in the public policy arena. This award has become an influential component in the efforts to keep agricultural issues and programs in the public eye and in front of national and world policymakers.

You can learn how to nominate and download the nomination packet on the CAST website. The BCCA has been awarded to 11 outstanding professionals.
Animal Agriculture and Environmental News
Pig Production and the Environment: A new NPPC program showcases U.S. pork producers’ long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship and further reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Pheasant Program: An annual 4-H program in New York teaches youth responsibility through pheasant chick rearing and other wildlife management strategies.

Antimicrobial Use in U.S. Livestock: University researchers and USDA veterinarians developed pilot systems for collecting and analyzing antimicrobial use data from U.S. livestock operations.

Popular Dairy Articles: These “most-read stories of 2020” from include items ranging from COVID effects to garlic used in cow feed to decrease gas. 

Fighting ASF: Agricultural Research Service scientists made two important advancements against African swine fever, a lethal disease in pigs. 

Poultry Legalities: Two corporations settled price-fixing litigation by poultry buyers that accused them of violating U.S. antitrust law by conspiring to inflate chicken prices
The evolving Hawaiian beef industry caters to locals and tourists who visit the islands.

To connect with consumers, this young beef producer deals directly with meat buyers.

Food Science and Safety News
Fruit and Vegetable Imports: The USDA added a weekly report to keep tabs on seasonal fruit and vegetable imports from Mexico and Canada.

Spud Surge: Retail fresh potato sales saw record growth of 12% in dollar sales and 8.2% in volume during the October-December quarter, according to this report.  

Apples to Apples: Fresh apple inventories are down 13% compared with the same time a year ago, and prices are up. 

Probiotic News: A company's new probiotic is supposed to help relieve stress, and researchers say probiotic coffee and tea drinks have gut-friendly live probiotics.

Milk Mustaches: General Mills added milk mustaches to all of its mascot characters on their cereal boxes in a new partnership to promote the 'Got Milk?' campaign.

Gut Microbes: An international study using metagenomics and blood chemical profiling uncovered a panel of 15 gut microbes associated with lower risks of common conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. 
Jayson Lusk and Glynn Tonsor produce a monthly “Meat Demand Monitor” containing simulated grocery shopping choices and consumer preferences.

The pandemic exposed problems faced by small butchers and farmers in business endeavors. 
Plant Agriculture and Environmental News
Biofuels Request:  Federal lawmakers from both the House and from the Senate are asking the administration to reject pending requests for small-refinery exemptions to the RFS, but reports indicate the EPA will propose extending the deadlines for oil refiners.  

Research Funding: A paper published by Crop Science reports that U.S. public investment in plant breeding programs has fallen while the needs are critical.

Nitrate Sensing: Iowa State professor Thomas Chiow was awarded a patent dealing with a soil nitrate sensing system for precision management of nitrogen fertilizer applications. 

Forest Management: The USDA hopes the establishment of the Interagency Wildland Fire Subcabinet will open up more communication channels to ensure better forest management effectiveness.  

What a Mighty Tree Can Show: The sequoia tree slab is an invitation to consider a vast timescale that includes everything from fossils of amoebas to the great T-Rex. 

Nitrogen Loss and Food Production: This study looks at nitrogen loss during food production, and the researchers created a framework that accurately measures nitrogen loss across a wide variety of crops and food products.   
The recent U.S. Drought Monitor shows 60% of the country lacking moisture, and some experts are concerned about growing conditions for spring. 

Kansas State University researchers are studying the possible benefits of using

International News
Super Speed in Super Cold (video): China unveiled a new high-speed bullet train designed for extremely cold climates. 

Sirens' Song (video): An ancient Swedish tradition involves singers who corral cows, goats, sheep, and ducks with hypnotic melodies.

Corn Imports: China approved two genetically modified corn varieties for imports as demand for animal feed surges.

Countering Misinformation: The Cornell Alliance for Science explains why Africa must counter COVID vaccine misinformation

Health Check Up for the Planet: This BBC report assesses climate health at the start of 2021with a look at CO2 levels, record heat, melting ice, and more.

Dwarf Giraffes: Two giraffes that stand 2.6 and 2.8 meters tall were discovered in Uganda and Namibia.

Stop the Rot: Penn State researchers are looking at a disease-resistant strain of cacao that might have tolerance against block pod rot
The Sámi peopleindigenous inhabitants of Arctic Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia—are working to uphold their heritage as global warming and modernization affect their homelands.  
General Interest News
Oyster Power (video): A University of Florida marine biologist studies how oysters help clean the ocean--and how aquaculture might help the shellfish survive.  

Astronomical "Old Faithful" (video): With telescopes operated by The Ohio State University, a group of scientists have discovered an eruption of deep-space light that flashes on a predictable schedule.  

ET, Phone Home: Astronomers--including a Penn State grad student--are searching for signs of life beyond Earth, and they report unusual radio signals from Proxima Centauri.

Toxic Pet Food (video): A pet food recall is expanding after more than 70 dogs have died from eating toxic mold.  

Dogs and COVID: An expert looks at dogs and COVID-19.

Pest Mitigation: The USDA allocated more than $5.5 million to Florida as part of its effort to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and mitigation
This video explains how a North Carolina woman is bringing together two of her passionshorses and readingto help bridge the literacy gap among children
Photo Credits
P. 1 bee pic from, ag graphic from, and mole rat pic from Animal Sec. collage from and Plant Sec. map from Inter. Sec. reindeer pic from Gen Sec. collage from and Unless otherwise noted, photos courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service or CAST.
Societies, Companies, and Nonprofit Organizations Serving on the CAST Board of Representatives
* Agricultural & Applied Economics Association 
* American Association of Avian Pathologists 
* American Association of Bovine Practitioners 
* American Bar Association, Section of Environment, Energy, & Resources-Agricultural Management   
* American Dairy Science Association 
* American Farm Bureau Federation 
* American Meat Science Association 
* American Meteorological Society, Committee on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
* American Seed Trade Association 
* American Society for Nutrition Nutritional Sciences Council  
* American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers
* American Society of Agronomy 
* American Society of Animal Science  
* American Society of Plant Biologists                                    
* American Veterinary Medical Association
* Aquatic Plant Management Society
* BASF Corporation
* Cal Poly State University 
* Corteva Agriscience  
* CropLife America
* Crop Science Society of America
* Entomological Society of America 
* Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy  
* Bayer
* National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a Contractor to the Beef Checkoff 
* National Corn Growers Association/Iowa Corn Promotion Board
* National Milk Producers Federation
* National Pork Boar
* North Central Weed Science Society
* Northeastern Weed Science Society       
* Poultry Science Association
* Rural Sociological Society
* Society for In Vitro Biology
* Soil Science Society of America 
* Syngenta Crop Protection 
* The Fertilizer Institute
* Tuskegee University    
* United Soybean Board 
* University of Nevada-Reno 
* U.S. Poultry and Egg Association  
* Weed Science Society of America 
* Western Society of Weed Science
CAST, through its network of experts, assembles, interprets, and communicates credible, balanced, science-based information to policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public.  
Members of CAST's Education Program
* Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo
* Cornell University
* Iowa State University 
* Kansas State University
* Mississippi State University
* North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University    
* North Carolina State University 
* Penn State University 
* Texas A&M University College of Ag & Life Sciences  
* The Ohio State University 
* Tuskegee University
* University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture 
* University of California-Davis  
* University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences 
* University of Kentucky 
* University of Missouri-Columbia  
* University of Nebraska Agricultural Research Division                                   
* University of Nevada-Reno College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources
Dan Gogerty (Communications and Friday Notes Editor)
Dylana Luett (Communications and Social Media Specialist)  
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
4420 West Lincoln Way
Ames, Iowa 50014-3447
Phone: 515-292-2125
** With assistance from Megan Wickham (Scientific Editor) and Colleen Hamilton (Membership Specialist)   
CAST provides Friday Notes as a benefit to its members. Please do not forward, edit, copy, or distribute the Notes in any form to nonmembers without the express permission of the CAST Executive Vice President Kent Schescke ( Instead, please encourage your colleagues to join CAST and thereby become eligible for all membership benefits. Contact Colleen Hamilton at 515-292-2125 or, or CLICK HERE for CAST membership information.