Animal agriculture is focus of Purdue Ag Forecast discussion

January 19, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's work in improving the health, environment and welfare of people and animals is the topic of a Feb. 5 panel discussion before the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Fish Fry.

The Ag Forecast discussion, which will include animal agriculture's importance to the Indiana economy, will start at 9:30 a.m. in Grand Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The event is free and open to the public.

Panelists are Paul Ebner, an assistant professor who specializes in microbiology; Donald Lay, an adjunct professor who focuses on animal behavior and well-being; and Scott Radcliffe, an associate professor who studies swine nutrition.

Moderator Karen Plaut, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and director of agricultural research programs, said the discussion will showcase the latest research by Department of Animal Sciences faculty supporting animal agriculture in Indiana.

"Faculty will discuss their research to improve food safety, environmental stewardship and animal welfare on the farm," Plaut said. "These critical issues will help Indiana farmers continue to be successful and contribute to the economy of Indiana."

Ebner will speak on food safety in the production of healthy and affordable meat, poultry and dairy products. He said teams of epidemiologists and microbiologists in the department are at the forefront of determining how food-borne pathogens enter the food chain.

"These researchers have used this information to develop several innovative and practical technologies used by livestock producers to ensure the safety of their products," Ebner said.  

Lay will speak on issues involving animal welfare. He said scientists of the Agricultural Research Service of USDA and Purdue faculty are assessing welfare-friendly alternatives to contentious practices to find scientifically sound alternatives that will allow Indiana producers to remain competitive. Currently eight states have enacted laws or other types of oversight to change how farm animals are raised

"Pressure to change traditional farm animal management techniques and procedures has been building internationally as well as nationally," he said. "Research on consumer preference has shown that the general public consistently supports these changes."

Radcliffe will speak on applied and basic research investigating environmental nutrition. He also will explain how basic environmental nutrition work in animals is being used to better understand mineral homeostatic mechanisms in humans.

"The Department of Animal Sciences is uniquely positioned to bridge the gap between applied and basic research, with the ultimate goal of enhancing the environmental stewardship of livestock producers," Radcliff said.

Incoming department head Alan G. Mathew will attend the Ag Forecast to meet with guests. Mathew, who comes to Purdue from a similar position at the University of Tennessee, starts March 1.

The annual Fish Fry will follow the panel discussion at 11:30 a.m. in the Blue Ribbon Pavilion, also on the fairgrounds. Guest speaker is former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, who served from 1995 to 2001. He is now co-chair of the Global Agricultural Development Initiative for the nonpartisan Chicago Council on Global Affairs and senior fellow at the Washington-based nonprofit Bipartisan Policy Center.

Fish Fry tickets are $20 each and must be purchased in advance by contacting the Purdue Ag Alumni office at 765-494-8593 or by e-mailing

For more information, including a ticket order form, go to the event website at  

Writer:  Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722,  

Sources:  Donya Lester, executive secretary, Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association, 765-4949-8593,

                   Karen Plaut, 765-494-8362,

                   Paul Ebner, 765-494-4820,

                   Donald Lay, 765-496-7750,

                   Scott Radcliffe, 765-496-7718,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson,
Agriculture News Page