Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Matters of Fat

Simply cutting back on the fat in your diet is not the key to a slimmer waistline and better heart health, notes a University of Missouri Extension nutrition and health education specialist.

“A long-held belief has been that excess calories consumed in high-fat foods are the main culprit behind cardiovascular disease in America,” says Glenda Kinder. “Research over the past few years is painting a different picture.”

Kinder recently participated in a nutrition/health study-abroad tour that examined the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle for clues to why the incidence of heart disease in Mediterranean countries is lower than in the U.S.

“While there are many complex reasons for this difference, the amount and kind of fat in that diet pattern is one of those factors,” Kinder said.

In Italy, the typical diet includes 100 times more olive oil than in the American diet, and the percentage of calories from fat may be as high as 40 percent.

Because olive oil is in abundance in Italy, it is the primary fat consumed there, and very little saturated fat (from animal food sources) is eaten.

Alice Lichtenstein, director of the cardiovascular nutrition laboratory at Tufts University, advises Americans that it is more important to replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats than to eat a really low-fat diet.

“When the focus is on low-fat eating, many people replace saturated fats with processed carbs—lots of low-fat crackers, cookies, chips, etc., or fat-free desserts,” Kinder said. “When manufacturers substantially reduced the fat in foods, they increased either the sodium or sugar to improve taste.” This trade-off can actually increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Recent research strongly suggests that if you reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet and replace those calories with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes.

MUFAs are found in foods like avocados, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, and oils such as olive, canola, peanut and sesame. PUFAs are found in nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils such as safflower, corn and soy.

Omega-3 fatty acids (a PUFA) are found in seafood and are heart-healthy. Their benefits are best if the diet is not too high in omega-6 fatty acids, a PUFA found in nuts, seeds and many processed foods. “So it can be best for your health to cook with the MUFA oils to create an overall balance,” Kinder said.

Decide what oil to buy based on how you will use it. Some oils are better for cooking, others for salad dressings and sauces.

“Keep in mind that even though some oils bring health benefits to our diet, oils are still fat,” she said. “Regardless of where it comes from, one tablespoon of oil has around 120 calories. It could be a healthy fat, but it’s a calorie-dense food and should be eaten in moderation.”

For more food and nutrition information from MU Extension, including features, answers to frequently asked questions and learning opportunities, go to www.missourifamilies.org/nutrition/.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Planning for Critical Weed Control

Each year, we are busy managing our crops. Sometimes we delay post-emergence weed control trying to get the most weed control during a spray application. However the cost of delaying weed control costs yield.
There are critical stages in the growth of corn and soybean where weeds do not significant hurt yield before or after these time periods. Critical timing in corn is often at high nitrogen rates, between the 6th and 9th leaf stage of corn. If you are using lower nitrogen rates, then the leaf stage may be lowered so it is from the 4th to 9th leaf stage.
As for soybean, the critical weed stage is the first trifoliate stage in 30-inch rows whereas in 15-inch rows it was the second trifoliate. This implies that weed control should begin earlier in wide rows than narrow rows.
Delaying weed control beyond the start of the identified period for weed control will cost the grower an average of 2 percent yield loss for everyone leaf stage delay in corn and also in soybean according to University Nebraska weed research data.
As you make your spring herbicide plans, don’t forget to apply pre-emergence products to manage glyphosate weed resistance and be sure to apply your post-emergence products at the proper time to prevent yield loss.
For more information, contact Wayne Flanary at 660-446-3724 or Heather Benedict at 660-425-6434, Regional Agronomists, University of Missouri Extension.

A Moment with Mike -- Veterans Homes Funding

A major topic of concern and speculation has been the creation of a stable funding source for our veterans homes throughout Missouri. Our veterans are true patriots who embody the American Spirit and who have sacrificed much to ensure that we live in this land of liberty. It is our responsibility to assure them of proper care when the need arises.
Last week the House passed legislation meant to provide this funding source for the state’s seven veterans homes, which are currently in desperate need of additional funds. The bill we approved would dedicate more of the state’s lottery prize money to education, which would in turn free up funding generated by casino entrance fees to be used for the state’s veterans homes. This change could generate as much as $30 million to help keep the existing seven homes open and potentially build an eighth home in the future.
HB 1731 would change the disbursement of lottery prize money so that 31.5 percent goes to education. Under current law, education receives 27 percent of lottery money. The change would provide approximately $35 million in funding to early childhood education – an increase of slightly more than $4 million. By drawing funding for early childhood education from lottery prize money, the current funding source derived from the existing casino entrance fee would be freed up to help maintain the state’s veterans homes. The change would reduce the amount of prize money going back to lottery winners from 63 cents of every dollar to 59.5 cents.
This solution allows us to provide a stable funding source for our veterans homes and even allows us to increase funding to early childhood education and the Missouri National Guard Trust Fund. The best part is this proposal does it without any kind of increase in entrance fees or taxes. This funding will let us keep our current veterans homes open and realistically look at another home to provide more bed space to accommodate some of those 1,600 veterans that are currently on the waiting list.
Another bill approved last week would create a period of tax amnesty for those who have yet to pay their tax bills. Our state has done this twice in the last decade to help the Department of Revenue collect overdue taxes from individuals and businesses. This amnesty program brought $74 million in tax revenues in 2004 and $42 million the next year. House Bill 1030 would waive interest and penalties for those who pay their tax bills between Aug. 1 and Oct. 31. By offering this amnesty program, we could generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue which would make the task off balancing our state budget that much easier and allow us to sustain funding to vital programs that might otherwise suffer cuts.
If you have questions, you may reach me at my Capitol number 573-751-9465, at the local district number, 660-582-4014, by email at mike.thomson@house.mo.gov or by mail at Room 401B State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Senate rejects increased Farmland Property Tax

The Missouri Senate beat the weekend deadline to approve a resolution that rejects the Missouri State Tax Commission's recommendation to increase the grades of agricultural land that could be taxed based on their productivity and yield.

The resolution was approved in a 19-8 Senate vote and was delivered to the governor on Thursday, March 1.

Sen. Brian Munzlinger, R-Williamstown, sponsored the bill and said that in light of recent natural disasters that have afflicted Missouri, farmers can't afford to pay the increased taxes.

"Following 2011, where we had multiple disasters in ag country, with the floods, droughts, straight winds, tornadoes -- everything that really made 2011 not a very good year -- I personally didn't think it was a good time to be raising taxes," Munzlinger said.

There was push-back by senators from urban and suburban areas of the state, who said they doubted that the agriculture industry had as bad of a year as it claimed and said that it was unfair that farmers have not seen tax increases in 15 years.

"I have read articles that the farming industry was one of the bright spots in the economy this year," said Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis County.

Missouri's House Proposal reverses cuts to colleges with money from the blind.

The top budget leader in the Missouri House announced his plan to restore the proposed cut to public universities by eliminating a state program for the blind.

House Budget chairman Rep. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City, plans on ending a $28 million program for the blind in order to reverse the 15 percent cut to public universities called for by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

"The governor's assault on higher education ends today," Silvey said.

Nixon released a written statement after Silvey's plan was announced and called the cuts to the program for the blind "just plain wrong."

"We should not, and cannot, remove the funding for this program that allows thousands of Missourians to remain in their own homes," Nixon said in his statement.

Silvey's plan would add a total of $106 million more than Nixon's proposal giving colleges the same amount of money they are getting this year.

Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said he applauded Silvey's work to restore the cuts to colleges, but did not agree with taking money from the blind.

"I would rather go into the administration of state government for the cuts than the blind," Kelly said.

To restore Nixon's higher education cuts, Silvey took $28 million from the Supplemental Aid to the Blind program which provides care for 2,800 people, who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid. The program averages $10,000 per person in the program. Blindness is the only condition in Missouri to have this special fund, according to Silvey.

"It's about a fundamental question of fairness in the disability community," Silvey said.

Rep. Jeanne Kirkton, D-St. Louis County, said she was "cautious" about taking money from this program.

"These people have been cut so deeply in the past years. We have an obligation to take care of our most vulnerable," Kirkton said.

A top Democrat on the House Budget Committee said the cuts to the blind needed more discussion but the lack of state funds available makes these decisions difficult.

"Clearly there is no money," said Rep. Sara Lampe, D-Springfield.

Silvey also cut a $5 million increase to local school district funding that Nixon had proposed. Silvey said the increase would only have been worth $5 per pupil.

"I ended the governor's election year political stunt," Silvey said.

The new budget plan takes into account a $10 million boost in lottery sales beyond what Nixon projected. It also includes $40 million from a national mortgage settlement, which Nixon had requested be used to soften the blow from his initial higher education cuts.

It also makes changes to the governor's proposal for a pay raise for state employees. Nixon originally had called for the raise to take effect in January instead of July, when the state's fiscal year begins. Silvey's plan pushes the start date for the raise to July, but only for employees earning less than $70,000 a year.

The House Budget Committee will begin mark-up on the state's $23 billion budget next week.