Issue Papers

Issue Papers - IP50 - August 2012

This paper (IP 50) addresses specific water and land concerns related to animal agriculture. The authors consider issues of water use and water quality associated with the livestock sector and the related environmental and economic impacts. The paper also includes a discussion of livestock land use, land degradation, land application of manure and manure-based composts, and deforestation related to farm policies.  This Issue Paper presents scientific data specific to North America (primarily the United States) and explains how and why these data compare with other parts of the world.  Additionally, it discusses how to reduce the environmental impact of livestock agriculture while preserving resources and quality of life. Chair: Kelly D. Zering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. IP50, August 2012, 24 pp. FREE. Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP49 - February 2012

Herbicides were developed during the twentieth century to be used with conventional tillage for weed control. Conservation (or minimum) tillage subsequently evolved, which enabled less soil damage when used with herbicides. Selection pressure, however, has resulted in weed species that have made adaptations for survival in conjunction with tillage. The U.S. government has put several federal policies and programs in place that help determine the selection and implementation of crops and conservation programs in relation to herbicides and tillage. This Issue Paper (IP 49) examines the impact of certain weed management practices on soil conservation objectives and addresses ways to mitigate negative effects. Chair: David R. Shaw, Office of Research and Economic Development, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State. IP49, February 2012, 16 pp. FREE. Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP48 - January 2012

Energy Issues Affecting Corn/Soybean Systems: Challenges for Sustainable Production speaks to energy issues within the corn/soybean production system as a model for understanding the complexity of addressing global energy challenges. Research and development is needed to find ways to lower adoption barriers for energy-conserving practices and develop management systems that allow agricultural production to meet multiple demands. The challenges include (1) a growth in biofuel production directly from corn/soybeans coupled with a simultaneous growth in oil and agricultural commodity prices, and (2) the ability of the motor fuel infrastructure to handle an increased volume of ethanol, biodiesel, and advanced biofuels. The authors propose a landscape vision for sustainable corn/soybean systems that is feasible and could be done efficiently and economically if there is a desire and public willingness to do so. It would, among other things, provide sustainable grain and biomass feedstock supplies for the bioenergy industry, protect water quality, lessen producer/environmental risk, and promote biodiversity. Chair: Douglas L. Karlen, USDA—ARS, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, Ames, Iowa. IP48, January 2012, 16 pp. FREE. Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP47 - May 2011

The purpose of this CAST Issue Paper (IP 47) is to go beyond the generalizations and accusations often associated with the air quality topic. Experts from six universities examine a large amount of data and focus their information and conclusions around the key livestock areas: swine, poultry, dairy, and beef. Their critical analyses look at a wide scope of issues, from greenhouse gas emissions to the logistics of manure storage facilities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is increasing efforts to monitor emissions from agriculture, so further research is important for all parties involved, and this paper provides solid, science-based information. Chair: Larry D. Jacobson, Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, University of Minnesota, St. Paul. IP47, May 2011, 24 pp. FREE. Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP46 - June 2010

Part 9, "ANIMAL AGRICULTURE'S FUTURE THROUGH BIOTECHNOLOGY." Animal biotechnology, which includes both genetic engineering and mammalian cloning, has expanded rapidly in recent decades. These technologies already have been applied in biomedical research and now are nearing application within the food system. This paper from CAST reviews animal biotechnology techniques, discusses related key ethical issues, evaluates religious views and traditions regarding animal biotechnology, summarizes public opinion research on the topic, and evaluates the challenges and opportunities for the ethical development of agricultural animal biotechnology. Chair: Paul B. Thompson, Professor of Philosophy, Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics and Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing. IP46, June 2010, 16 pp. FREE. Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP45 - January 2010

This timely Issue Paper includes a preface from Dr. Norman E. Borlaug and has been prepared as an update of CAST Paper No. 1, written by Dr. Borlaug in 1973. The authors of the current paper address (1) future demands facing agriculture; (2) the relationship of bioenergy and bioproducts to agriculture; (3) major issues impacting future U.S. agricultural productivity; (4) major issues facing agricultural productivity in other parts of the world; (5) strategies to meet future food needs; and (6) examples of research areas that could enable the next "Green Revolution." The authors question the commitment by the United States and many other countries for support of agricultural research and indicate the far-reaching impact that such research, education, and resulting technology--or lack thereof--will have on the nation and the world. Chair: Gale Buchanan, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, The University of Georgia, Tifton Campus. IP45, January 2010, 16 pp. FREE. Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP44 - November 2009

Despite current uncertainty about the United States' economic future, most reports suggest that growth will resume and competition for freshwater will continue.As one of the largest users of water in the United States, agriculture will be impacted significantly by changes in water availability and cost.How water managers and users respond to water use challenges will determine, in part, the long-term availability of water for municipal, agricultural, and other uses.The authors provide insight into how water challenges are being addressed in four specific areas of the United States as helpful case studies in developing solutions to similar water issues in other regions.Chair: Dr. Sharon Megdal, Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson. IP44, November 2009, 20 pp.FREE.Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP43 - August 2009

PART 8, "ANIMAL AGRICULTURE'S FUTURE THROUGH BIOTECHNOLOGY." This new paper, "Animal Productivity and Genetic Diversity: Cloned and Transgenic Animals," discusses two of the most recent reproductive technologies used to improve agronomic traits in livestock. One main limitation to the further development and use of these technologies has been the lack of public acceptance. The 8-member international Task Force of this new Issue Paper suggests that the government develop a regulatory process that addresses consumers' apprehension while offering realistic expectations of biotechnology. The authors address topics including the cloning of farm animals for breeding and direct food consumption; disease resistance in transgenic animals; and the use of transgenics for improved food safety and quality, decreased environmental impact, and increased production efficiency. Chair: Robert Wall, Agricultural Research Service's Animal and Natural Resources Institute, Beltsville, Maryland. IP43, August 2009, 16 pp. FREE. Available online and in print (fee for shipping/handling).

 
 
Issue Papers - IP42 - March 2009
The use of individual gestation accommodations (IGAs) for dry sows in commercial pork production is an issue that has raised much debate. Public perceptions and misconceptions of welfare issues have the potential to dramatically impact swine production. The nine-member international Task Force of this new Issue Paper critically evaluates the scientific evidence of IGAs for sows, including considerations for behavior, nutrition and feeding, reproduction, clinical examination and health, manure management, worker safety, and system design. The authors indicate that no compelling evidence exists from scientific evaluations and comparisons of dry-sow keeping systems that, overall, either individual or group accommodation is more appropriate than the other. Chair: Stanley Curtis, Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana–Champaign. IP 42, March 2009, 20 pp., FREE. Available online AND in print (515-292-2125; fee for shipping/handling).
 
 
Issue Papers - IP41 - January 2009
When producers decide which carcass disposal method to use, they must consider the number of mortalities, the cause of death and whether infectious agents are involved, environmental implications, regulatory requirements, operational costs, and efficiency. This Issue Paper provides a comprehensive summary of the scientific, technical, and social aspects of various ruminant carcass disposal technologies using information gleaned from a Kansas State University comprehensive report. The authors discuss the predominant methods of mortality disposal in commercial ruminant production, including burial and landfill, rendering, composting, incineration, and alkaline hydrolysis. The paper includes an Appendix that addresses special considerations for material potentially infected with diseases. Chair: Marty Vanier, National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, Kansas State University, Manhattan. IP41, January 2009, 20 pp., FREE. Available online AND in print (515-292-2125; fee for shipping/handling).