Thursday, July 18, 2019

Member Spotlight Q&A: Dr. Nathaniel L. Tablante

Our members are the lifeblood of our organization. They are students, farmers, researchers, department heads, industry experts, food scientists, agronomists--the list goes on. No matter their background, we all have the same wish: to assemble, create and share credible, balanced, science-based information. 

In our ongoing Member Spotlight series, we are asking current members some questions about their involvement with CAST and why they believe in our mission. 

Meet Dr. Nathaniel L. Tablante, a former CAST president and active supporter.

Dr. Nathaniel L. Tablante
Professor and Extension Poultry Health Specialist (Veterinarian) at the University of Maryland College Park

How long have you been a member of CAST?
I have been a member of CAST for 13 years. I joined CAST in 2006 as the representative of the American Association of Avian Pathologists (AAAP), an international association whose mission is to promote scientific knowledge to enhance the health, well–being, and productivity of poultry to provide safe and abundant food for the world. 

I became an active member and Chair of the CAST Animal Agriculture and Environmental Issues Work Group and served as CAST President from 2011-2012.  

How did you first hear about CAST?
I was not familiar with CAST until AAAP asked me to serve as its representative to CAST in 2006.

What agricultural issue is most important to you?
As a poultry veterinarian, poultry health, welfare, and food safety are of prime importance to me.

Why do you choose to support CAST?
I have truly been inspired by my experience with CAST and its mission to assemble, interpret, and communicate credible, science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector and the public. 

My experience with CAST paved the way for my American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Congressional Science Fellowship in the U.S. House of Representatives where I served as an agriculture and science policy advisor for a Member of Congress in 2013-2014.

What role does CAST play in our society?
CAST enables members of our society to understand and appreciate various agriculture, food safety, and environmental issues through its simple but objective and unbiased publications and presentations on these issues.
Thank you, Dr. Tablante, for your support of CAST's work for more than a decade. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of our Member Spotlight Q&A series.

(Photo courtesy of Dr. Nathaniel L. Tablante)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Cross Country Bike Trail with Big Rural Benefits

The Great American Rail-Trail is a mega bike trail that will connect nearly 3,700 miles of rail trails and other multi-use trails to form a path across the country from Washington, D.C., to Washington State. The preferred route of the nation’s first cross-country, multi-use trail is detailed in a comprehensive report released by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and the route is presented here in an interactive map

This massive project is noteworthy for several reasons: (1) With everyone from LeBron James to your grandpa pushing bike use, the fitness benefits are obvious. (2) Bike trails boost local economies--especially in small towns. (3) This could be a great way for thousands to see America's countryside at a slow pace and with a ground-level view.

The High Trestle Bridge gets lit up at night.
These benefits are already occurring in localized ways. In parts of the country, the farm population has shrunk and small towns suffer. The bicycle has opened up a promising avenue for some communities. Families with babies in tow and bike clubs with weird names file along rural paths--many carved from railroad lines. A perfect example of this is the High Trestle Trail in central Iowa. Restaurants, smoothie stands, and nearby Main Street shops benefit from the traffic, and the path crosses the Des Moines River on a 13-story high renovated rail bridge. The structure was turned into a work of art and an educational outlet--the frames represent nearby coal mining of the past, and stations along the bridge include maps and descriptions of the area's development.

Many parts of the country provide wonderful bike trail opportunities, and some states organize annual rides to celebrate rural life. The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (Ragbrai) has been active since the mid-seventies. The ride involves an average of 15,000 to 25,000 folks migrating across the state for a week-long Odyssey through farmland and small towns. For many, sitting on top of a bike seat is about as close as they ever get to agriculture, but the event provides opportunities for many to smell the good earth (and the not-so-good manure), to see the amazing productivity of the land, and to meet people along the way--from vendors at pie stands to farmers gathered on Main Street to fellow riders from all over the world.

The following links lead to past blogs about Ragbrai:

** Your Momma, Andy of Mayberry, and 35,000 Bikers--a Harlan man opened up his basement to 25 bikers as a tornado roared through at 3:00 a.m., and a Tipton woman left a note on her door to bikers, "I'm at the church serving food. Go right in. Shower on your left. Fresh pie on the kitchen table."

**  Is This Heaven? Biking through Farm Country Mixes the Field of Dreams with Dante's Inferno--riders chomp on sweet corn, inhale slices of blueberry pie, and invade towns with no stoplights but plenty of hospitality. But the week can be challenging--cold rain, blast-furnace heat, blown tires, and the occasional accidental meeting of flesh and pavement. 

** Check here for a collection of Ragbrai photos from the Des Moines Register.

by dan gogerty (map from and the bridge collage from

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Infographic: CAST Publications Through the Years

CAST has an impressive publications record since our founding in 1972. 

We've published more than 400 papers, which equals out to be roughly 8.5 publications a year for 47 yearsLast year, we published six papers, which is double what we sent to press in 2017

Why don't we roll out the same amount of publications each year? Our authors and reviewers--made up of specialized researchers and experts--place great care in the information presented to stakeholders like you. We believe in presenting credible, accurate, and science-based information in order to better educate those who are invested in agriculture.

No matter what the topic--whether it's covering the latest issues in plant and animal science or food labeling concerns in your local grocery store--we are focused on communicating credible, objective science. 

Check out the various types of publications CAST has distributed since our founding in 1972 in our infographic below. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Infographic: Agricultural Practices and Their Impacts on Water

Earlier this year, CAST released two papers focused on water use in agriculture and the long-term impacts agricultural productivity can have on water quality and supply (above and below ground). 

Below is an infographic taking bits and pieces from the two papers to introduce a small part of the larger ag-water story. Both papers are accessible for free below.

You may use the infographic with credit to CAST.