agriculture and food

New OSU restaurant features Latin American street food

McNary Dining Hall on the east side of the Oregon State University campus will have a new food option starting this fall – La Calle - but currently only night owls will reap the benefits.

La Calle will offer Latin street cuisine-inspired dishes (calle means street in Spanish), and will be open 7:30 p.m. to midnight to serve studying students and late night employees.

The new food concept will help meet a growing demand for late-night options on campus, according to Jennifer Rouse with University Housing and Dining Services.

Currently most campus food options don’t stay open past 9 p.m., with the exception of Java II, which is open until midnight Monday through Friday. The only current regular late night option is “Food 2 You,” a pizza, pasta, sandwich and salad delivery service for late night meals. It’s so incredibly popular, Rouse said, that people need to order their late night pizzas in advance, because they sell out quickly.

Executive Chef and UHDS Assistant Director Jaime Herrera said the menu, developed by UHDS Chef Jeffrey Lowman, emphasizes healthy options, portion size, price and a variety of toppings, and the menu will be built for speed and simplicity.

“The flavors will be customized toward a broader palate, with a little less spice than traditional Latin dishes,” Herrera said, and will utilize local ingredients like the Albany-based Ochoa cheese.

Fillings will include different preparations of chicken, pork and beef, some vegetarian options and occasionally shrimp or other types of seafood. Specialty drinks, including Jarritos sodas and hibiscus tea, also will be available. 

La Calle will be located just west of Raintree Coffee, in a location formerly used to make cookies and pastry. That will be relocated to the main kitchen to free up the space. Raintree Coffee will remain open until midnight each night so that students can also get caffeinated beverages during late night studying. MainSqueeze, a smoothie and convenience store located in McNary, also will stay open until midnight.

Depending on demand, hours could be expanded to include earlier opening hours, but that will be assessed later in the term.

Story By: 

Jennifer Viña, 541-737-8187; Jennifer.vina@oregonstate.edu

Ancient bones point to shifting grassland species as climate changes

CORVALLIS, Ore. – More rainfall during the growing season may have led to one of the most significant changes in the Earth’s vegetation in the distant past, and similar climate changes could affect the distribution of plants in the future as well, a new study suggests.

In a report in Science Advances, an analysis was done of mammoth and bison hair, teeth and bones, along with other data. It concludes that a changing climate — particularly increasing rainfall and not just atmospheric carbon dioxide — explains the expansion of grassland plants during the latter part of the Neogene, a geologic era that includes the present.

The research was led by Jennifer Cotton as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Utah and in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. She is now an assistant professor at the California State University, Northridge.

Scientists have long known that some grassland species became more abundant during this period, including the ancestors of corn, sugar cane and sorghum. Known as C4 grasses, they use a different method of metabolism via photosynthesis from most other types of vegetation, called C3 grasses. They tend to thrive under warm, moist conditions, in addition to low levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“The point of the work was to understand what drove one of the most dramatic biological transitions in the past 65 million years, and also to better understand the past so that we can make predictions about the future,” said Cotton. “We know that the balance between C3 and C4 grasses is controlled by both atmospheric CO2 and climate, but the relative influence of each of these factors has not been clear.

To understand what drove that transition, the researchers analyzed carbon isotopes in 632 samples of bison and mammoth tissues from across North America over the past 18,000 years, corresponding to the time between the peak of the last ice age to the present. The researchers were able to show that, over time, the animals’ diets shifted toward more C4 plants and those plants gradually spread north.

By combining their findings with data on climate, temperature and changing carbon dioxide concentrations, the researchers showed that increasing precipitation during the growing season was the single most important factor in the spread of C4 grasses. In recent years, increases in rainfall and temperature have enabled farmers to grow corn in the upper Midwest in areas dominated by wheat.

“Both atmospheric CO2 and climate have been changing and will continue to change in the future,” said Cotton, “and many have suggested that additional CO2 in the atmosphere will benefit C3 grasses, causing them to outcompete C4 grasses. Our results suggest that climate, rather than CO2 fertilization, will drive future changes to C3 and C4 grass distributions, which will likely benefit C4 grasses in much of the Great Plains.”

The National Science Foundation provided funding for the research. Cotton’s co-authors included Christopher J. Still and Thomas M. Mosier at Oregon State, Thure E. Cerling at the University of Utah and Kathryn A. Hoppe at the University of Washington.

The paper is online at http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/3/e1501346.

Story By: 

Jennifer Cotton, jen.cotton@csun.edu, 818-677-7978

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OSU soil scientist Rich Roseberg will lead southern Oregon ag research station

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Soil scientist Richard Roseberg of Oregon State University and the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station (OAES) has been named the new director of the OAES research station in southern Oregon.

Roseberg will head the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center (SOREC) in Central Point, one of 12 agricultural experiment stations around Oregon. The center has 34 faculty and staff and an overall budget of almost $2 million.

Roseberg will direct SOREC’s research program, which includes applied research in viticulture and enology, tree fruits, livestock, forage and integrated pest management. Area vineyardists, orchardists and ranchers collaborate by contributing sites, labor and equipment. The center also runs an experimental farm.

In addition to the director, SOREC employs four researchers, all of whom hold appointments in OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Two key positions, a viticulturist and a plant pathologist, are vacant at the moment; international searches are near completion, Roseberg said.

Roseberg comes from a research post at the Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center (KBREC) in Klamath Falls, where he studies cereal and forage crops and soil/water relations. He also conducts field trials of alternative crops, including Russian dandelion, a potential source of rubber, and teff, a cereal grain that grows well in semi-arid conditions. He was stationed at SOREC from 1990 to 2003 before transferring to Klamath Falls.

“It’s only 85 miles from station to station,” he said. “But the southern Oregon station is in a dramatically different climate—lower-elevation, warmer, and with an earlier growing season, which gives farmers much more crop choice.”

Roseberg will start on May 1, succeeding Philip Van Buskirk, who is retiring after 32 years. “Having Richard return to where he started his career at Oregon State University—and already knowing most of the stakeholders—will help him speed up and smooth his transition to director,” said Van Buskirk.

Cattle, hay, winter pears, farm forest products and wine grapes are southern Oregon’s top-value agricultural products, according to a 2015 report from the state Board of Agriculture. About 10 percent of the area is farmland (comprising about 625,000 acres), and about 10 percent of that is irrigated.

Southern Oregon’s Umpqua, Applegate and Rogue valleys are famous for their tree fruits, especially pears. In the last two decades, premium wine grapes have also become economically important. The area is home to more than 100 wineries and over 200 vineyards, growing warm-season varieties ranging from Albarino to Zinfandel.

SOREC’s viticulture research program, begun in 2007, includes field trials of grape varieties to see how they perform in southern Oregon’s warm, dry conditions and varied soils and microclimates. Researchers also are refining methods for efficient irrigation and sustainable pest control.

SOREC’s Extension programs will continue to be managed by John Punches, Extension regional administrator based in Roseburg. These include 4-H, Master Gardeners, Master Food Preservers and Family and Community Health, as well as outreach programs in small farms, horticulture and woodland management.

Funding for SOREC’s research and Extension activities comes from a mix of federal, state and county funds, research grants and private gifts. In May of 2014, Jackson County voters approved a service district that taxes property owners up to 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. In 2015-16 the assessed rate was less than 4 cents, raising $560,816 to support SOREC’s programs.

About $166,000 of that total goes to research. “For quite a few years SOREC was in a tough situation, especially on the research side,” Roseberg said. “Now the voters have spoken. Instead of just surviving, we’ll be able to serve southern Oregon much better than we’ve been able to do before. Once we get our two new scientists on board, I expect some really great things to come out of this center.”

Story By: 

Richard Roseberg, 541-833-4590, ext. 8-8316; Richard.roseberg@oregonstate.edu

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Richard Roseberg

OSU's Richard Roseberg is new SOREC head

OSU acquires archives of ‘the founding father of American craft beer’

CORVALLIS, Ore. — The papers of renowned beer journalist and historian Fred Eckhardt have been acquired by the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives at Oregon State University’s Valley Library.

The Eckhardt collection provides a record of the craft brewing industry dating to the 1970s. It should be open to researchers by spring.

Few in the brewing world had Eckhardt’s influence on the history of beer in Oregon and home brewing nationwide, and his collection covers a broad range of topics related to craft beer as well as sake and wine making. Eckhardt, who died in 2015, was an advocate, critic, educator, mentor and historian, and has been called the founding father of craft beer.

“This is a cornerstone collection for the archives and a real treasure for the history of craft and home brewing in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” said Tiah Edmunson-Morton, an archivist at Valley Library and the curator for the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives. “It’s a researcher’s dream that someone would keep all of this and an archivist’s dream that it would be this well-organized.”

Eckhardt became prominent in the brewing community with the publication of “A Treatise on Lager Beers” in 1970, the first modern American book on home brewing.

As breweries opened across the country in the 1980s and 1990s, Eckhardt travelled to visit with brewers and owners, take photographs, keep detailed records, and write for industry publications like Celebrator Beer News and All About Beer. He served on the American Homebrewers Association’s board of advisors for many years, and was one of the founding members of the Oregon Brew Crew homebrew club in Portland, where many professional brewers started.

More information about the Oregon Hops and Brewing Archives at OSU’s Valley Library is available at scarc.library.oregonstate.edu/ohba.html.

Story By: 

Tiah Edmunson-Morton, 541-737-7387, tiah.edmunson-morton@oregonstate.edu

Climate change may bring global food insecurity, impacts on U.S.

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The warming of Earth’s climate threatens to increase global food insecurity and halt more than two decades of progress toward curbing global hunger, according to a major assessment by 31 researchers.

Worldwide, climate change is likely to destabilize cropping systems, interrupt transportation networks and trigger food shortages and price hikes, says the report, unveiled last week by U.S. agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack at the UN’s COP-21 climate conference in Paris.

While the pace of these changes depends on a multitude of factors, their effects will become more pronounced by mid-century, the researchers found. Under the least optimistic scenario—based on high carbon emissions and low international cooperation—agricultural yields could go down by as much as 15 percent and food prices could rise more than 30 percent by 2050. 

“A lot has been written about the impacts of climate change on agriculture in developing countries,” said John Antle, an agricultural economist in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University who led the study’s socioeconomic modeling.

“What’s different about this study is that it brings the impact of food insecurity home to the United States,” Antle said. 

While developing countries, particularly in tropical regions, will suffer the most, the United States - the world’s largest exporter of food - will also feel the shocks, he said. Hunger is not expected to rise in the world’s richest country, but climate-driven changes are expected to lower long-term agricultural productivity, with an impact on a major sector of the U.S. economy.

Climate is, of course, the most important influence on agriculture. The crops in various regions of the world are adapted to particular regimes of temperature, season length and rainfall. When those parameters change with a changing climate, agricultural systems are disrupted. 

What’s less recognized, say the researchers, is that climate change also disrupts global systems for transporting, storing, packaging and delivering food, making it harder for people to get enough of the right kind of food, especially in regions that already are food-insecure.

The percentage of the world’s undernourished people has been cut nearly in half since 1990-91, from 19 percent to 11 percent, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. 

“The challenge we now face,” Vilsack said in a statement, “is whether we can maintain and even accelerate this progress despite the threats from climate change.”

Earth’s climate is getting warmer because of increased carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere. Two hundred years ago the atmosphere held about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Now it holds about 400 parts per million, and as a result, Earth’s average temperature has risen about 0.8 degrees C (1.4 degrees F). 

The report reviews and synthesizes recent research by global and regional modeling teams that projects impacts of climate change on agricultural production, consumption, prices and trade.

One of these teams is the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project. Antle is a co-leader of that project, which uses detailed regional data to assess the vulnerability of poor rural populations to economic disruptions linked to climate. Antle leads the project’s regional economic assessment teams in Africa and South Asia. 

“These assessments have helped us develop a range of plausible outcomes from the variety of responses to different levels of climate change,” Antle said.

“Agriculture has adapted to various shifts in climate over time, but I think the concern now is how rapidly things are changing,” he said. “We have a growing global population and increasing pressure on water, soil and other resources. Even without climate change, feeding the world would likely get harder.” 

The researchers also said that appropriate technological, economic and policy decisions could greatly mitigate the destabilizing effects of climate.

“Climate Change, Global Food Security and the U.S. Food System” is the result of a 3-year study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Its 31 contributors represent universities and other research institutions in four countries. 

The Paris climate conference continues through Friday, Dec. 11.

Story By: 

John Antle, 541-737-1425, john.antle@oregonstate.edu

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John Antle, agricultural economist at Oregon State University. Photo by Studio Lux Images.

John Antle, Oregon State University

OSU study: Packaging insecticides in tiny capsules may make them more toxic

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Encasing insecticides in microscopic plastic capsules—a common formulation for many pest sprays on the market—may make them more toxic than the active ingredient alone, according to a new study from Oregon State University.

Environmental toxicologist Stacey Harper and her team found that a common agricultural insecticide in its “capsule suspension” formulation—with molecules of the active ingredient encapsulated in tiny, inert plastic pellets—was more toxic than the same amount of active ingredient delivered straight up in water.

Their study appeared in this month’s edition of the journal Environment International.

Harper, an associate professor in the College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Engineering, and her doctoral student Alicea Meredith studied a commercial pyrethroid-type insecticide with an encapsulated active ingredient, lambda-cyhalothrin. The product is a broad-spectrum insecticide approved for use in many field and row crops. Its label warns that it is toxic to fish and other water-dwelling organisms.

The capsules encasing the product’s active ingredient range from micron-sized (a red blood cell is about 8 microns in diameter; a human hair is 40-75 microns thick), to nanometer-sized, a thousand times smaller.

“We set out to see whether the size of the capsule made any difference in toxicity or environmental fate,” Harper said. She hypothesized that the tinier capsules would be more toxic than the bigger ones, because they would be able to penetrate cells more readily.

The researchers spun the off-the-shelf product in a centrifuge and sorted its capsules into two size classes. There was a wide range of sizes; most capsules were in the neighborhood of micron-sized, but some were nanometer-sized.

They exposed the embryos of zebrafish to six successively stronger doses of the pesticide’s active ingredient. One group got it in micron-sized capsules, and another group got the same dose in nanometer-sized capsules. As a control, a third group of embryos got the same dose of active ingredient, but it was not encapsulated.

In all cases, the lowest dose administered (20 micrograms of active ingredient per liter of water) was higher than any likely to be used in a commercial spray. “We started with a dose we knew to be toxic because we wanted to compare the toxicity of these two capsule sizes,” Harper said.

Zebrafish, a fast-growing species common in home aquariums, are useful for toxicology testing, Harper said, because their bodies are transparent as they grow, enabling researchers to spot developmental anomalies from exposure to toxic chemicals.

Over five days the embryos showed the effects of pesticide poisoning, including physical malformations, tremoring, paralysis and death. But the pesticide in the smaller capsules was no more toxic than the pesticide in the larger ones, Harper said—the higher doses were more toxic across the board, regardless of capsule size.

“What was more surprising,” she said, “was that the active ingredient alone was significantly less toxic than either of the encapsulated formulations. We didn’t set out to test this, but it’s what we found.”

Chemical manufacturers have offered encapsulated formulations of pesticides for more than 50 years, Harper said, because encapsulation is thought to improve the product’s dispersal and durability. “Our findings indicate that these formulations may be affecting where a chemical spreads through an environment and how it interacts with biological systems,” she said.  

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires pesticide manufacturers to test a product’s active ingredient for toxicity, it doesn’t require testing of commercial formulations of the product, which are usually trade secrets. This means toxicity screening may underestimate—or perhaps overestimate—the actual environmental hazard of a chemical when it’s used in real-life situations, said Harper.

“The testing assumes that the encapsulation makes no difference in the toxicity,” she said, “but in this case, at least, it does. So it’s important to figure out how the carrier of a chemical product affects its toxicity in order to determine whether our current risk assessments offer enough protection against products that incorporate this encapsulation technology.”

Harper, also an environmental engineer, studies the environmental effects of human-made nanoparticles—microscopic bits of matter engineered to have commercially useful properties. Nanoparticles are widely used in pharmaceuticals, pesticides and personal care products, but little is known about their long-term environmental or health effects.

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture and by OSU’s Agricultural Research Foundation.

Story By: 

Stacey Harper, 541-737-2791, stacey.harper@oregonstate.edu

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Zebrafish are used to test toxicity of environmental chemicals. Photo by Stephen Ward


Stacey Harper. Photo by Frank Miller

Stacey Harper, OSU environmental toxicologist

Oregon Flora Project takes first comprehensive look at state’s plants in a half century

CORVALLIS, Ore. – While some plant species may have disappeared from Oregon in the last half century, other species are moving north, adding to the state’s floral diversity.

Those are among the results reported by the Oregon Flora Project in a new book, the first comprehensive assessment of the state’s native and naturalized plants since 1961.

“This book is for a broad audience,” said Linda Hardison, project director and an assistant professor in the Oregon State Department of Botany and Plant Pathology. “The information has practical uses for so many people: ranchers, gardeners, landscapers, planners. We are always striving to make it useful for people.”

For more than two decades, from the high desert to the Cascades and the Willamette Valley to coastal rain forests, botanists and citizens have assembled almost 600,000 observations of Oregon’s diverse flora. Among the findings:

  •  Oregon is home to about 4,700 plant taxa (species, subspecies and varieties), making it the fifth most diverse state in the country, despite differences in area. This is 15 percent more than were recorded here in 1961.
  •  A total of 159 taxa collected prior to 1961 have not been documented since then.
  • Some plant species have moved into Oregon from Nevada and California, possibly reflecting the impacts of climate change.

Flora of Oregon: Volume 1: Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, and Monocots, was published by the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. It can be ordered for $75 on the project website, oregonflora.org.

“Oregonians love their land and its natural resources,” said Hardison. “Individuals statewide have contributed to make the book and our website a better resource.” More than 1,000 volunteers shared photos, reviewed data and submitted lists of plants seen on hikes. Plants have also been included from studies by university researchers, the Native Plant Society of Oregon and state and federal agencies.

In addition to descriptions of grasses, sedges, lilies, ferns, and conifers, the volume includes a history of botanists in Oregon, color photos and descriptions of the state’s 11 ecoregions and 50 mapped locations for exploring botanical sites. Artist John Myers contributed 86 new pen and ink drawings.

“Plants are the foundation of life on Earth, and correctly identifying plants can help us make good decisions,” added Hardison, such as being aware of the presence of rare plants or invasive weeds. “With a new Flora, a rancher can recognize a new noxious weed that invades their property and, by controlling it, save their rangeland. This work is the basis for knowledge that touches every citizen of this state.”

Volume 2 is due to be published in the fall of 2017 and volume 3 in late 2019.

In addition to individual donations, support was provided by the Bureau of Land Management, the Oregon Community Foundation and the Native Plant Society of Oregon.

Editors include Hardison, Stephen C. Meyers, Thea Jaster and Katie E. Mitchell. The book is dedicated to the memory of Scott Sundberg, an Oregon native, former Oregon State researcher and University of Oregon graduate who founded the Oregon Flora Project in 1994. Sundberg died in 2004.


Story By: 

Linda Hardison, 541-737-4338

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Cape Perpetua_Tanya Harvey

OSU researchers join WSU, UI on $2.7 million grant to combat potato disease

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University are teaming with colleagues in Washington and Idaho to help farmers combat an insect-transmitted disease that could devastate the Pacific Northwest’s $9 billion potato crop.

Silvia Rondon, an OSU Extension entomologist, and Oregon State colleagues Stuart Reitz and Molly Engle, are collaborating with Northwest university and industry partners on a five-year, $2.7 million study of zebra chip disease, which discolors the flesh of potatoes and makes them unmarketable.

The disease is caused by a bacterium carried by a tiny flying insect called the potato psyllid. It has caused serious problems in the southwestern United States, severely damaging the potato crop and causing millions of dollars in losses, according to Washington State University entomologist Bill Snyder, the study’s co-leader.

For the new study, Rondon’s team will step up ongoing trapping and monitoring of potato psyllids and coordinate these efforts in all three states. Others on the study will probe the DNA of the psyllids and the bacteria they carry.

The researchers will map in detail where each genetic variety of psyllid is coming from, which strain of the zebra chip bacterium the insects are carrying, how they are moving across the landscape, and how their activity is affected by weather, topography and presence of alternate host plants.

From this information they will develop predictive models and integrated pest management (IPM) guidelines, delivered through a mobile-friendly website that will enable farmers to evaluate their disease risk and spray only when and where they need to.

Zebra chip disease was unknown in the Northwest until 2011, when a surprise outbreak sent tremors through growers of the Northwest’s most valuable vegetable crop.

“It was in only a handful of fields in 2011,” said Rondon, a College of Agricultural Sciences researcher based at OSU’s Hermiston Agricultural Research and Experiment Station, “but it was severe enough to cause significant economic damage.”

The following year the disease spread widely through the potato-growing areas of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington.

Psyllid adults and immature nymphs land on potato leaves and feed on them, transmitting the bacterium into the leaves through their mouthparts. The infection makes its way down into the developing tuber and interferes with its processing of sugars. An early-season infestation can kill the plant; a mid- to late-season one can ruin the crop.

Potatoes affected by zebra chip disease are safe to eat, Rondon said, but they’re unappetizing – the flesh is mottled with brown streaks that caramelize and turn bitter-tasting when the potatoes are fried – so they can’t be used for chips or French fries, two of the highest-value potato products.

To protect their crop, growers typically spray insecticides weekly from June through harvest, even if they don’t know whether the psyllids are present or are carrying the disease.

“These sprays are not only expensive, but they run the risk of inducing pesticide resistance,” said Rondon.  “But right now they feel they have no choice. We want to develop effective integrated pest management programs, and to do that, we have to be able to predict how the disease spreads.”

After the 2011 outbreak, Rondon, Reitz, and others began intensively monitoring potato psyllids across the inland Northwest, trapping the bugs in and around potato fields and tracking where they were coming from and how they moved.

Researchers have so far identified five genetically distinct types of potato psyllids, Rondon said. One, the northwestern type, lives year-round in the region. It overwinters in bittersweet nightshade, a weed that grows around potato fields planted near canals and ditches. The insect may also take refuge in other wild plants such as bindweed, or in piles of culled potatoes.

Another psyllid type, the western type, probably comes in from California in late winter, Rondon said. All psyllid biotypes can carry the zebra chip bacterium. All appear to travel over long distances, possibly carried by the wind or hitching a ride on transported plants.

The study is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Collaborators besides OSU are Washington State University, University of Idaho and the Potato Research Consortium, which is composed of industry representatives from each Northwest state.

Story By: 

Silvia Rondon, 541-567-8321 ext. 108, silvia.rondon@oregonstate.edu

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Zebra chip disease discolors the flesh of potatoes, often making them unmarketable. Photo by Silvia Rondon.

Zebra chip disease

Strand Agriculture Hall re-opens after seismic, accessibility remodel

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Strand Agriculture Hall is celebrating its re-opening after a two-year, extensive remodeling project.

The event will be Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 3 p.m., beginning at the West Portico Entrance that faces the Memorial Union Quad. The celebration, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by tours.

The building was originally completed in three phases, beginning in 1909 and finishing in 1913. At the time of its completion it was the largest building on campus, and over the years it has housed many different departments, but always with agriculture as its primary emphasis.

The 115,000 square-foot classroom and office building has undergone a major transformation, including extensive seismic and energy upgrades and dramatic improvements to building accessibility. Hoffman Construction was responsible for the work, which was designed by Henneberry Eddy Architects. The $24.9 million project was funded through a combination of bonds and State Energy Loan Program funds.

The building contains 16 general purpose classrooms and houses the dean’s office of the College of Agricultural Sciences. Dean Dan Arp will be one of the presenters at the re-opening celebration.

“It’s a thrill to see this building restored and renewed far beyond its former glory,” Arp said. “Strand Ag Hall is now an open, accessible space; it’s a seismically safe place; and it’s a beautiful space to invite people to explore agricultural sciences.”

Previously, Strand was known as one of the least accessible buildings on the Corvallis campus, but upgrades have now made it one of the most accessible, including creating four accessible entrances, an elevator that now reaches the fourth floor, fully accessible restrooms and upgrades to signage. Architects included shallow walkways on the exterior and interior ramps to make the entrances accessible, as well as a porch and ramps on the access point facing the Memorial Union, the most heavily trafficked student building on campus.

"The building truly showcases that when accessibility is considered throughout a project, the results are seamless," said Gabriel Merrell, OSU associate director of Diversity, Community Engagement, and Accessibility and deputy ADA coordinator. "The features blend into the building – they are almost non-apparent. Contrast this with the former design where a big concrete ramp was introduced into a former window well, prominently segregating access into a separate entrance."

Larry Landis, director of Special Collections and Archives Research Center at OSU, said Strand is unique in that it’s housed the College of Agricultural Sciences, in one form or another, throughout its history.

“There aren’t many colleges that can say they were located in the same building for the last 100 years,” Landis said.

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Dan Arp, 541-737-2331; dan.j.arp@oregonstate.edu

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OSU to lead $1.2 million food safety center to help farmers, processors

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will administer a new $1.2 million center that aims to help small and midsized farms and food processors in 13 western states prevent foodborne illnesses.

The initiative was announced today by the federal government as part of an effort to help growers and processors of fruits, vegetables and nuts comply with requirements established under the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The center, which is not an actual building, is one of four new regional hubs across the country.

"It is critical that we provide relevant training and assistance to farmers, processors and wholesalers, especially to those who may struggle to meet the requirements,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which awarded the $1.2 million.

OSU and its partners will use the funding – a third of which will go to OSU – to develop trainers to teach others how to conduct workshops for small and midsized farms, beginning farmers, small-scale food processors and wholesale produce vendors.

“Small farms and food processors have limited technical and financial means to comply with the FSMA rules, unlike large farming operations and food manufacturers," said Robert McGorrin, the center's lead director and head of OSU's Food Science and Technology Department. “This center will provide a large number of trainers across the region with the technical assistance to help them comply with the new rules.

The center will also leverage existing food safety training programs with Extension, community-based organizations and food hubs and cooperatives, he added.

The trainings can be customized to fit a specific crop whether it's hazelnuts, tree fruits, potatoes or onions, McGorrin noted. "Unlike large-scale commodity crops such as wheat and corn, crops grown at small and medium-scale farms often have their own unique production, harvesting and processing needs,” he said.

OSU and its partners will work with The Produce Safety Alliance and the Food Safety Preventive Control Alliance to develop trainers. The aim is to have at least two dozen lead trainers and about 200 other people as certified trainers, McGorrin said. He added that the trainers could include representatives from regulatory agencies, nongovernmental organizations and commodity group associations.

The center is a partnership with land-grant universities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and Guam as well as American Samoa Community College.

OSU already has a robust educational outreach program for food safety. OSU food microbiologist Mark Daeschel fields calls and emails from Oregonians wanting to make and sell thermally processed acidified foods. He said he evaluated more than 500 products in 2014 to make sure they were processed properly. Also, the OSU Extension Service has published a 24-page guide for processors and regulators called Ensuring Food Safety in Specialty Foods Production, and its faculty helped create the Northwest Specialty Food Network website.

OSU faculty members also teach an annual class for businesses that produce acidified and low-acid foods. The government requires these companies to have a supervisor on site who completed such a course. Additionally, OSU conducts a workshop each year for food processors to help them comply with federal requirements for hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP).

The creation of the center, which was supported by U.S. Reps. Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer and Greg Walden, comes after a 2011 outbreak of E. coli was caused by deer droppings on an Oregon strawberry farm. Seven people were hospitalized and one person died. That same year, eight people in the Midwest were infected with E. coli after eating hazelnuts, and a multistate Listeria outbreak associated with cantaloupe was traced to a Colorado farm; it sickened 147 people and killed 33.

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that each year in the U.S., foodborne diseases sicken roughly one in six people and kill 3,000.


Robert McGorrin, 541-737-8737, robert.mcgorrin@oregonstate.edu