OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of agricultural sciences

End of “Secure Rural Schools” payments will hurt Oregon economy

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon counties face the loss of about 4,000 jobs, $400 million in business sales and $250 million in income when federal funding for the Secure Rural Schools Act runs out June 30, 2012, according to a new report.

Economists at Oregon State University produced these new economic impact estimates as an update to an earlier OSU report, based on the findings of the 2009 final report of the Governor’s Task Force on Federal Forest Payments and County Services.

In this latest report, the economists note that Oregon counties face a steep drop in revenue that will sooner or later require employee layoffs, a reduction of services, less funding for schools, and long-term economic consequences that may push the overall impact even higher unless they receive significant new funding, or Congress reauthorizes the federal act.

Bruce Weber, an economist who directs the Rural Studies Program at OSU, says the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) act will result in a 94 percent drop in projected federal forest payments in 2013 from the amount counties received in 2008.

“Secure Rural Schools act payments to Oregon counties have been phased down over the past four years,” Weber said, “and some counties already have cut jobs, eliminated services, increased local fees and reduced road repairs and construction in anticipation of the termination of these payments.

“In counties with financial reserves from prior SRS payments, the full impacts of termination may not be evident next year or the year after as they spend down reserves,” he said. “However, for other counties – particularly those for whom federal forest revenues represent more than half of their general fund – the impacts will come sooner, and SRS termination threatens their fiscal viability as governmental units.”

More than half the land in Oregon is owned by the federal government. For the past 100 years, the federal government has shared revenues from its timber harvests with county government, providing an important revenue source for many counties.

After timber harvests began declining in the early 1990s, shared revenues declined sharply and Congress passed a series of laws that supplemented shared timber revenues, culminating in the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.

This act provided payments to counties and schools in 42 states that were based on shared revenues in years with historically high timber harvests.

In Oregon, these payments went to 33 of its 36 counties. Funding tied to U.S. Forest Service lands were earmarked for county roads and schools, while funding tied to Bureau of Land Management lands could be used for general purposes in those counties.

The new report estimates that Oregon counties will receive about $14.8 million from federal timber harvests in 2013 without the Secure Rural Schools funding – a far cry from the $230.2 million counties received in 2008 under the act.

In estimating what impacts the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools act might have, the OSU economists compared projected 2013 federal forest revenues with the amounts counties received in 2008 with payments under the act. They looked at two possible scenarios – one, that counties’ future cuts would be based on current budgetary allocations with 65 percent of the general fund expenditures involving personnel; and second, where all such cuts taken involve personnel. Among the estimates:

  • When 65 percent of the cuts are used for personnel, the loss of jobs for Oregon counties from the elimination of the Secure Rural Schools funding is estimated to be 3,833; at the 100 percent level, it is 4,469;
  • Sales of goods and services by Oregon businesses would be reduced by $385 million to $438 million;
  • The loss of income – wages, rent and other property income – is projected to range from $250 million to $300 million.

“These estimates only represent the short-term economic impacts related to the reduced spending and re-spending of the SRS funds,” Weber said. “There may be more significant longer-term negative impacts on economic activity that result from the counties not providing levels of services in public health, law enforcement and other areas that are important to business, citizens and visitors.”

Weber emphasized that the report does not account for economic impacts from the loss of funding to schools. In 2007-08, nearly $32 million in Secure Rural Schools funding – or more than 13 percent of the overall total of $230 million – went to Oregon schools.

“Obviously, the loss of those funds will have additional impacts,” Weber said.

Although the Secure Rural Schools funding historically has had a disproportionate impact on Oregon’s coastal, southern and eastern counties, it does affect urban regions as well, the OSU economists note. However, urban counties may have more diverse revenue streams to offset the loss of federal funding than their rural counterparts.

The 2011 update was written by Weber, Paul Lewin and Bruce Sorte of OSU. It is available online at the OSU Rural Studies Program website: http://ruralstudies.oregonstate.edu/

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Bruce Weber, 541-737-1432

Applications open for American Youth Leadership exchange with Mongolia

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Twenty-nine high school-age youth and five adults will be chosen to explore historical and cultural traditions of Mongolia in a four-week exchange program beginning in mid-June of  2012.

"The American Youth Leadership Program with Mongolia – Enhancing Global Perspectives" will focus on environmental issues common to the western United States and Mongolia, including water quality, renewable energy and land restoration and reclamation.

Youth and adults will be recruited from the 13 states, including Oregon, that make up the western region of the Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Service.

"The exchange is for young people to learn how to enhance global citizenship and understand other cultures," said Lillian Larwood, Oregon State University Extension 4-H youth specialist. "This will help them work effectively in a global society and become better prepared to address environmental issues."

Applications, due Jan. 15, are online at http://4-h.uwyo.edu/Mongolia/Mongolia_applications.asp or by request from crawford@uwyo.edu

Youth applicants must be U.S. citizens, 15-17 years old by the trip departure date (approximately June 21) and have at least one semester of high school left following the trip. A pre-trip orientation is scheduled May 17- 20 at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Participants should have an interest in environmental issues on water quality, renewable resources and land reclamation and restoration, as well as Mongolian history and culture. They must participate in a web-based interview and, if selected, will be asked to complete a medical information and behavior agreement form.

Parents or guardians must give permission to participate in the entire program, including orientations and post-program activities.

The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs will cover most of the costs. Participants will pay for passports and passport photos, transportation to the airport for orientation and the exchange trip, spending money, a modest host-family gift and two books for the Mongolian 4-H Youth Organization.

Applications must be submitted directly to the University of Wyoming. A copy of the application should be sent to Lillian Larwood, 105 Ballard Hall, OSU, Corvallis, OR 97331-3608. Call 541-737-1316.

This exchange program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the University of Wyoming 4-H Youth Development Program.

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Lillian Larwood, 541-737-1316

OSU announces agricultural honors scholarships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Honors scholarships totaling $89,800 have been awarded to Oregon State University students in the College of Agricultural Sciences.  The scholarships are made possible by gifts to the college.

Recipients of the 2011 scholarships are:

Adair Village: Stacy Eash, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 A/B Technologies International, Inc. Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $800 from the Roberta Mitchell Jansen Scholarship Fund.

Bend: Samuel Palacio, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund and the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Canby: Emily Kraxberger, freshman majoring in general agriculture, received the $1,000 Wilco Farmers Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.  Brooklyn Nelson, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Charles E. and Clara Marie Eckelman Scholarship.

Clackamas: Douglas Cook, freshman majoring in horticulture, received the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship and the $1,000 Paul & Frances Montecucco Beginning Venture Scholarship.

Cove: Joseph Batty, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 A/B Technologies International, Inc. Agricultural Honors Scholarship.  Scott DelCurto, freshman majoring in general agriculture and forest engineering, received the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Culver: Kenny Smith, freshman majoring in crop and soil science, received the $750 Walter J. and Florence J. Jaeger Undergraduate Scholarship and the $1,000 Johnny R. and Helen H. Thomas Scholarship.

Eagle Point: Brendan Kelley, junior majoring in general agriculture, received the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Gladstone: Logan Breshears, junior majoring in fisheries & wildlife science, received the $1,000 A/B Technologies International, Inc. Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Heppner: Brett Harrison, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 A/B Technologies International, Inc. Agricultural Honors Scholarship, the $1,000 John & Florence Scharff Agricultural Honors Scholarship, the $750 Walter J. and Florence J. Jaeger Undergraduate Scholarship, and the $2,000 V. Kent Searles & Nancy J. Billingsley Searles Scholarship.

Hermiston: Catalina Coleman, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Oregon Women for Agriculture Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.  Rebecca Walker, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 Frank Burlingham Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Imbler: Reva West, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 A/B Technologies International, Inc. Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Keizer: Patricia Brown, freshman majoring in rangeland ecology & management, received the $1,000 Frank Burlingham Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Klamath Falls: Brittney Alves, freshman majoring in general agriculture, received the $1,000 Jernstedt Family Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Lakeview: Krystal Albertson, freshman majoring in general agriculture, received the $1,000 Wilco Farmers Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Milwaukie: Neysa Daquilante, freshman majoring in crop and soil science, received the $1,000 Loren J. Smith Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Monroe: Dylan Larkin, freshman majoring in crop and soil science, received the $1,000 Johnny R. and Helen H. Thomas Scholarship and the $1,000 Loren J. Smith Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Newberg: Kory Blake, freshman majoring in rangeland ecology and management, received the $1,000 Frank Burlingham Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship.  Ariana Piscitelli, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the A/B Technologies International, Inc. Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

North Powder: Jon Calhoun, junior majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Naumes Family Agricultural Honors Scholarship, the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship, and the $2,000 V. Kent Searles & Nancy J. Billingsley Searles Scholarship.

Oregon City: Jesse Dodge, junior majoring in horticulture and fisheries and wildlife science, received the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.  Korinda Wallace, junior majoring in horticulture, received the $1,000 Charles E. and Clara Marie Eckelman Scholarship.

Philomath: Kayla Thorsness, freshman majoring in animal sciences and business administration, received the $1,000 Fisher Farm and Lawn Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Phoenix: Jake Erceg, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Portland: Cynthia Le, freshman majoring in bioresource research, received the $1,000 Summers Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Prineville: Marcie Nelson, freshman majoring in rangeland ecology and management, received the $1,500 Malcolm Johnson Scholarship.

Sherwood: Jillian Bradley, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 Clayton Fox Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Springfield: Andrew Schmunk, freshman majoring in fisheries and wildlife science, received $1,000 from the Agricultural Honors Scholarship Program Fund on behalf of Lane County Farm Bureau Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

St. Paul: Jaimee Brentano, freshman majoring in general agriculture, received the $1,000 Frank Burlingham Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Sutherlin: Kassandra Freeman, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 Naumes Family Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship. Rozalyn Patrick, freshman majoring in environmental economics and policy, received the $1,000 Wilco Farmers Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Tillamook: Joseph Meyer, freshman majoring in bioresource research, received the $1,000 Tillamook County Creamery Association Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Union: Briana Tanaka, freshman majoring in general agriculture, received the $1,000 Wilco Farmers Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

West Linn: Olivia Mahnic, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Arroyo Grande, Calif.: Amber Hartman, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Charles E. and Clara Marie Eckelman Scholarship.

Chatsworth, Calif.:  Lauren Eyrich, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 Summers Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Montebello, Calif.: Erika Wakabayashi, junior majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 Eugene H. Fisher Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Strathmore, Calif.: Emily Clifton, junior majoring in general agriculture, received the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Brunswick, Ga.: John Powell, sophomore majoring in fisheries and wildlife sciences, received the $1,000 Frank Burlingham Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Eagle, Idaho: Kaylee Anderson, freshman majoring in animal sciences, received the $1,000 Naumes Family Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

Elkton, M.D.: Zoe Milburn, freshman majoring in horticulture and agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Jernstedt Family Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Pinckney, Mich.: Erik Levi, junior majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Lawrence E. and Marguerite Kaseberg Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Austin, Texas: Connor Carroll, freshman majoring in fisheries and wildlife sciences, received the $1,000 Savery Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Colton, Wash.: Holdan Druffel, freshman majoring in agricultural business management, received the $1,000 Eugene H. Fisher Agricultural Honors Scholarship and the $1,000 Ursula Bolt Knaus Scholarship.

Omak, Wash.: Bradley Ives, freshman majoring in fisheries and wildlife sciences, received the $1,000 Frank Burlingham Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship and $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund.

Tacoma, Wash.: Joshua Querl, junior majoring in food science and technology, received the $1,000 Charles E. and Clara Marie Eckelman Scholarship.

Gillette, Wyo.: Lisa Strid, post-bacc majoring in food science and technology, received $1,000 from the John W. DeMuth, Jr. Agricultural Sciences Scholarship Fund and the $1,000 Clifford Smith Memorial Agricultural Honors Scholarship.

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'Growing Farms' planning book is available to public

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Over the last three years, 250 new and would-be farmers in Oregon have learned to dream strategically in an Oregon State University Extension workshop series called "Growing Farms: Successful Whole Farm Management."

The Growing Farms workshops are for people who want to start a farm business, are in the first years of owning a farm or want to make major changes to their existing farm. They learn how to make a reality of their dream farm with a strategic plan and how to consider production options, manage finances, produce and sell its products and deal with liability.

 The 44-page planning book that goes with the workshops is now available separately and can be purchased for $8, plus shipping and handling. Order online at http://bit.ly/qaOpfk or call 541-737-2513 or 800-561-6719.

"People can use the book to process information, record their ideas and work through whole-farm planning," said Melissa Fery, small farms instructor with Oregon State University Extension, Benton County. "They can document and reflect and become more definitive in their planning, which makes them better able to access their farming options."

Although the planning book alone can be helpful, Fery also recommends the workshops, in which attendees can share ideas, network with each other and listen to experienced farmers on field trips to working farms.

Many of the people who attend the "Growing Farms" training sessions come with a desire to learn more about starting a farm business, but may have little background or training. "Specialty crops are popular, and many new farmers need to learn direct market strategies to sell organic vegetables and livestock products such as spun wool," Fery said.

Retired veterinarian Robert Bradford took the Growing Farms workshops in 2009 to set goals, clarify his values and measure risks to determine what his niche market plans might be. Now the Bradford Family Farm in Rogue River is the first Oregon Department of Agriculture-licensed chicken and rabbit processing facility in southern Oregon. The license allows the farm to sell the meat at markets, restaurants and grocery stores.

"We also are growing a couple acres of wheat," Bradford said. "We plan to bring the wheat to farmers' markets in the spring to grind on site as it's purchased."

One young farmer, Gary Bernet, used his degree in marketing and what he learned in the Growing Farms workshop to revive his family's farm with an agri-tourism corn maze and pumpkin patch.

"Growing Farms gave me a better grasp of the whole farming picture," Bernet said. "It’s easy to focus on the parts you want to see, but the course forced me to look at all aspects of a farm business, not just growing a crop."

OSU Extension's Small Farms program received federal funding to begin Growing Farms in 2009 as a partial solution to the concern that in the United States the average age of farmers is about 57.  The series of workshops, offered in four regions of Oregon, teaches what it takes to succeed in whole-farm management.

The next workshop series will be from 5 to 9 p.m. for six Wednesdays in 2012, from March 7 to April 11, in Junction City. For more information about the course and registration, call 541-766-6750. Costs are $275 for individuals and $450 for a farm team of two.

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Melissa Fery, 541-766-3553

Registration opens for OSU online vineyard management class

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University has opened registration for an online class that teaches wine industry professionals and aspiring vintners and grape growers to manage vineyards.

The lectures for Principles of Vineyard Management will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays between Jan. 10 and March 15 from 8-9:50 a.m.. Professor Patty Skinkis, viticulture specialist with the OSU Extension Service, will teach the course.

Students will learn how to select prime sites for growing grapes, design and plant a vineyard, identify and manage pests and diseases, balance yield and fruit quality, use cover crops, and ensure that vines are getting the proper nutrients. Participants will be encouraged to think critically about management practices and make decisions based on case studies and research presented throughout the course.

The class is taught on the OSU campus in Corvallis to upper-division students, and will be streamed live through a conferencing program that lets online students see in real time the same lecture slides that the cohort on campus sees. The classes are recorded so students can later view them at their convenience.

Online students do not earn the three credits that their on-campus counterparts do, and they don't receive a grade or have to take the tests. Online participants can, however, type questions to Skinkis in real time and also take part in an online forum for class discussions. Students who sign up for the online version are allowed to attend the lectures in person. The class is not affiliated with Ecampus, OSU's provider of online degrees.

The cost is $500 before Nov. 30 and $600 after that. The deadline for registration is Dec. 21. To register, go to http://wine.oregonstate.edu/onlineclass.

Skinkis, a faculty member of OSU's Oregon Wine Research Institute, teaches another class in the same manner every other year called Grapevine Growth and Physiology. The class will be offered in winter term 2013. To read a feature story about that class and how one vineyard manager benefited from it, go to http://extension.oregonstate.edu/online-vines.

Skinkis said that 110 on-campus students and 132 online participants have taken the two courses since she started teaching them in 2008. About half of the online students planned to develop or join commercial enterprises, she said. The other half are already employed in the industry, she added. They've included vineyard managers, winemakers, agricultural consultants and owners of small vineyards and wineries. They've hailed from California, Idaho, Indiana, Washington, Wisconsin, Canada and even France.

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Patty Skinkis, 541-737-1411

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Mel Martinez, the vineyard manager at Oregon's King Estate winery, listens to an online lecture by Oregon State University professor Patty Skinkis

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Oregon State University professor Patty Skinkis lectures to her class on grapevine growth and physiology. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Cool weather could be an advantage to this year's Oregon wine vintage

CORVALLIS, Ore. - While it might make it difficult for gardeners to ripen backyard fruit, the cool weather this season could be an advantage to Oregon wine grapes, according to researchers at Oregon State University.

"Often the most challenging weather conditions produce some of the finest wines," said Steve Renquist, an OSU Extension horticulturist who works with the wine industry in the Umpqua region.

In monitoring heat units—a calculation involving time and temperature—Renquist pointed out that most wine growing regions in Oregon are about on schedule with last year for ripening, and the northern Willamette Valley is a bit ahead of 2010. In areas where heat units are fewer, less sugars develop. But the complexity of wine comes from many attributes of the fruit, not simply sugar content.

"In cool years similar to this in the past, the wines have developed delicate, crisp flavors because they've retained some of the acid in the fruit," Renquist said. "Of course, we won't know about this year until the grapes are harvested and the wine is in the bottle," he added.

Wine grape growers are accustomed to dealing with challenging weather, according to Patty Skinkis, an OSU professor and viticulture specialist. Cool temperatures this spring delayed flowering in the vineyards, she said, so everyone expected a late harvest. However, Skinkis's research has quantified that fruit set was significantly higher than normal for most of the region's wine grapes, resulting in big clusters of grapes.

"The growers prepared well for the season. They thinned fruit and pulled leaves to open the canopy in order to maximize grape quality, hasten ripening, increase fruit color, and reduce the potential for Botrytis bunch rot." Skinkis said.

Furthermore, results of her fruit quality research in 2010 indicate that last year's cool season led to higher than normal development of phenolic compounds and other quality parameters, despite being lower in overall sugar accumulation.

Unlike sweet table grapes, the quality of wine grapes relies on development of a complex array of flavors as well as the balance between sugars, acids and phenols, according to James Osborne, the Extension enology specialist at OSU. This is especially true of the cool season varieties that are iconic of the Willamette Valley.

"Pinot noir, for example, can develop more complex flavors and aromas with a longer, cooler season that often results in lower sugar levels," said Osborne, whose research focuses on how microorganisms impact flavor development during the wine-making process. "It's always a matter of balance, and some of the best vintages come from cooler years."

"The challenge and the attraction of Oregon wines are that they are not easy to make, but the potential for excellence is always there," Osborne said.

Neil Shay, director of the Oregon Wine Research Institute, sees potential for excellence in this year's vintage. "I've visited vineyards all around the state, and the fruit that's hanging now looks excellent," he said.

The harvest is now underway in parts of southern and eastern Oregon, Shay said. The wines will take months or years to develop. But like a good wine, he expects a fine finish for this year's grapes.

For more information about vineyard and wine research at Oregon State University, see http://owri.oregonstate.edu/

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Neil Shay, 541-737-3620

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James Osborne, an Extension enologist at Oregon State University

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Patty Skinkis, a viticulture specialist at Oregon State University

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Neil Shay, director of the Oregon Wine Research Institute, and Patty Skinkis

Explore Oregon farms, farmer’s markets through new website

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon’s rich diversity of farms and farmer’s markets can now be explored digitally through a new website.

The Oregon Farm Explorer (http://oregonexplorer.info/farm) maps Oregon's rural and urban connections through an exploration of farms and markets using a variety of data collections, mapping tools, stories and other resources.

“The Oregon Farm Explorer presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about the bountiful food produced in Oregon,” said Anita Azarenko, head of Oregon State University’s horticulture department, “including what is raised here, where it is produced, and where to find it.”

The site allows visitors to find local, fresh, farm-grown produce, meats and cheeses with the Farmers’ Market Finder and its interactive maps, as well as to learn about agricultural and horticultural crops and the livestock and dairy industries that support Oregon’s economy.

The site highlights the Oregon Century Farm & Ranch Program and can trace the spread of agriculture through the establishment of farms and ranches. A specially designed viewer maps farms and ranches that have received century and sesquicentennial awards, and provides detailed information by county.

The Oregon Farm Explorer was developed as a collaborative effort of the OSU Libraries, Oregon University System's Institute for Natural Resources and the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences.  Oregon Explorer, a natural resources digital library, is a collaborative effort between OSU Libraries and the Institute for Natural Resources.

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Anita Azarenko, 541-737-5475

OSU faculty earn nearly $42 million in research grants in a single month

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Faculty at Oregon State University, already among the nation’s leading four-year research universities, have set a sizable new institutional record in monthly contracts and grants, earning nearly $42 million in September.

The total is about $7.5 million larger than OSU’s previous monthly high point, established in 2004-05, when two foundations combined to provide $24.5 million to the OSU-led Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans. By comparison, the largest grant in September 2011’s total came from the National Science Foundation -- $12 million for a green materials chemistry center being developed with partners from the University of Oregon and elsewhere.

Only three other grants among the month’s diverse 222 awards were in excess of $1 million. Federal departments from NASA to USDA – 13 agencies in all -- funded OSU studies, as did a long and diverse list of state agencies, private foundations, university partners and five separate industry interests, including Hewlett-Packard and major firms in energy exploration and development.

“Even as the funding environment becomes more competitive, our faculty consistently rise to the challenge, both at the federal level and in creating research partnerships with private industry and other research enterprises,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “This not only allows them to seek answers to the important questions being posed in their labs, but to involve our undergraduate and graduate students in the exciting process of discovery. That’s one of a growing number of reasons why more of the best and brightest students are choosing OSU – our research program provides experiential learning opportunities that simply aren’t available in many other places.”

The research projects are just as diverse as their funders. One aims to find more effective ways to prevent the spread of HIV among African-American youth, another will support testing of ocean wave energy technology while yet another will fund continued research in wheat program that has already bred the two most widely planted varieties in the Pacific Northwest.

The funding is vital to pushing the boundaries of research forward, and OSU plays an integral role in that regard. Faculty in some of its most prominent areas – the College of Agricultural Science, for instance – find their work cited by other scientists more often than those of any similar faculty in the United States. The university’s wave laboratory is the western hemisphere’s largest and most sophisticated for the study of tsunamis and wave energy and its nuclear energy department is the only university facility nationally authorized to test and certify reactor designs.

The funding also has a substantial economic impact in Oregon’s economy. Every dollar invested in university research generates as much as four additional dollars in economic activity through wages and purchases of goods and services, some experts say. By that measure, OSU’s September could have an economic impact on Oregon well in excess of $100 million.

“The diversity of our research program continues to expand through the entrepreneurial, competitive efforts of our outstanding faculty, and reflects the values and goals of our new research agenda” said OSU Research Vice President Rick Spinrad. “Success begets more success, helping to develop the strength of our research programs, attract the best and brightest students and lure even more outstanding faculty to OSU. So September shouldn’t be looked at as an anomaly, but as a harbinger of continued accomplishment and value to society in a variety of areas.”

The month’s largest gift, the $12-million NSF award, went to Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Douglas A. Keszler. As director of the Center for Green Materials Chemistry, he leads a multi-institutional effort to translate basic-level discoveries into the commercialization of new technologies. In the first phase of the Center, collaborating scientists at eight institutions applied environmentally friendly green-chemistry approaches to the synthesis and fabrication of compounds, thin films and composite materials. In the second phase, they seek to expand and accelerate that work through education of more students, postdoctoral fellow and faculty.

The outcome is hoped to be a new generation of materials built from chemicals that are less toxic than their predecessors for use in fields ranging from integrated-circuit manufacturing to medicine. Collaborators in the center include the Argonne and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories, Washington University, Rutgers and more.

OSU’s efforts years ago earned the top ranking for research universities from the Carnegie Foundation. Last year, Carnegie also conferred its “community engagement” designation on OSU, making it one of only 23 land grant universities nationally to simultaneously hold both designations. The community engagement recognition is for comprehensive efforts to share the university’s intellectual treasure with the many external constituents OSU serves.

As its research program grows, OSU is increasingly turning discoveries into commercialized innovation. The university recently disclosed that licensing royalties from OSU patents exceeded $4 million in 2010-11, an increase of 63 percent over the previous year. The university has more than 100 active licenses in products ranging from Braille printers to a new pressure-sensitive adhesive technology that could be used in goods ranging from wound dressings to postage stamps.  

The work behind such product innovation led last year to recognition of Corvallis as America’s most innovative city in a study from Los Alamos National Laboratory. Home to OSU’s main campus, Corvallis was recognized for earning more patents per capita than any other city in the United States, many of them awarded to OSU faculty.

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Rick Spinrad, 541-737-0664

$4.4 million fuels new bioenergy education program at OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University has been awarded $4.4 million for a bioenergy education program, funded by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The grant will establish research-based undergraduate, master’s, and high school enrichment programs through OSU, part of a larger project announced today to reduce the dependence of the United States on foreign oil through the production of sustainable bioenergy.

This is part of a $40 million project to prepare the Pacific Northwest to meet bioenergy goals using woody crops that are available and appropriate to the region, according to Kate Field, director of the Bioresource Research Program at OSU. The education component will provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to advance bioenergy and integrate it into the region’s economy.

“OSU was a natural choice to lead this new direction in education,” said Field, who will head the initiative. “We already have an excellent research-based undergraduate biosciences major, a strong professional science masters program, and the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences program for pre-college science enrichment.”

OSU’s education grant is part of a $40 million regional coordinated agricultural project, a collaboration among industries, regional universities and Extension, administered by the University of Washington. Other OSU participants in the project include Steve Strauss, distinguished professor in OSU’s College of Forestry, who will receive funding for research on hybrid poplar genetics. Another $40 million grant for related research was also announced today, in a consortium administered by Washington State University.

The educational project is tied to a new hybrid poplar-based facility to convert biomass into fuels such as ethanol and jet fuel. The facility, in Boardman, Ore., is being developed by Greenwood Resources and Zeachem, Inc.

“When the facility is fully operational, it will also be able to use a variety of our region’s biomass, like straw, cornstalks, sawdust and wood slash,” Field said. “The bioenergy education program will allow students to work on developing this and other kinds of regionally appropriate alternative fuels and bioenergy businesses, benefiting Oregon and taking advantage of expertise at OSU.” 

Field said that OSU will start admitting bioenergy students and awarding scholarships next winter, to start in fall term 2012. Collaborators on this initiative included Ursula Bechert, director of the professional science masters program, OSU SMILE director Rick Collay, and other OSU faculty.

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Kate Field, 541-737-1837

“Food for Thought” series begins seventh season

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The “Food for Thought” community lecture series will begin its seventh season this October at Oregon State University, bringing internationally recognized experts to discuss new options for producing sustainable food and fuel.

The series emphasizes roles that biotechnology, in both novel and traditional forms, can play in agriculture in terms of public health, ecological stability and economic viability.

All lectures are free and open to the public, and will be at LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus on Wednesday or Thursday evenings, beginning at 7 p.m. Talks are followed by audience discussion and a chance to meet speakers.

The Food for Thought series is a product of OSU’s Outreach in Biotechnology program based in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

The first presentation will be Oct. 6, by Wes Jackson, the founder and president of The Land Institute, online at www.landinstitute.org. This research, education, and policy non-profit organization is based in Kansas and dedicated to sustainable agriculture. It is developing an intensive, energy-efficient agricultural system based on perennial crops that would reduce agricultural inputs – water, fertilizers and pesticides – and enhance soil fertility and biodiversity.

Jackson’s lecture, “Natural Systems Agriculture: Bringing Wild Ecosystem Processes to the Farm,” will explain how for the first time in 10,000 years of grain production the processes of wild ecosystems could be brought to the farm using perennial crops.

Other lectures include:

Nov. 9: “Ethics of Animal Biotechnology: Should Genetically Engineered Salmon be Allowed?” Alison Van Eenennaam, cooperative Extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics at the University of California, Davis, will review the benefits, safety and social acceptance of fast-growing, genetically engineered salmon.

Jan. 25: “Feast & Famine: The Future of Food.” Peggy Lemaux, cooperative Extension specialist in plant and microbial biology at the University of California, Berkley, will describe the use of genetic engineering to enhance crops for direct public benefits, including efforts to grow hypoallergenic wheat and produce anti-diarrheal drugs in rice.

Feb. 29: “The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans.” Mark Lynas, British author, environmental activist, and National Geographic emerging explorer will discuss the need for technologically aggressive mitigation strategies to reduce the predicted catastrophic impacts of climate change.

Apr. 11: “Looking Back: Environmental Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops.” Yves Carrière, professor of entomology at the University of Arizona, will summarize the findings of a recent U.S. National Research Council committee on which he served that examined the record of GMO crops with respect to ecological stability.

More information about the speakers and their presentations can be found on the Outreach in Biotechnology website at http://oregonstate.edu/orb. Also available are lecture study guides prepared for teachers of undergraduate students and high school honors students, as well as podcasts of 27 previous lectures, which can be downloaded from iTunes U and YouTube.

Outreach in Biotechnology and the Food For Thought lecture series are supported by the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences, the Sun Grant Initiative Western Regional Center, and the OSU College of Forestry.

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Steven Strauss, 541-737-6578