ACES Office of Advancement

You are here

Animal Sciences

New web-based decision tools for dairy producers

Published August 28, 2014

URBANA, Ill. – In place of milk price and revenue support programs, the 2014 Farm Bill has created the Margin Protection Program for Dairy Producers (MPP), allowing a dairy operator to self-select coverage options to protect the farm against declines in national average production margins. A web-based decision support tool and companion educational materials have been developed to help dairy operators make key coverage decisions for both the MPP and the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy (LGM-Dairy) insurance program.

The tool can be found at: and

Researchers at the University of Illinois led the National Coalition for Producer Education (NCPE) to develop the tools along with the USDA Farm Service Agency and the National Program on Dairy Markets and Policy (DMaP-

“The MPP decision tool is designed with farmers in mind,” said U of I agricultural economist John Newton. “Tool users need only input their milk production history, and then in just four clicks of a mouse, farmer-specific MPP registration forms can be generated.” Newton said that the tool is also optimized to run on a wide platform of electronic devices.

“With the MPP decision tool, dairy farmers can use farm-specific milk production variables in conjunction with daily CME Group futures prices as part of the consideration for coverage-level choices under MPP and LGM-Dairy,” Newton said.

“To highlight the strategic thinking that needs to occur during the registration and coverage modification process, dairy farmers using the MPP decision tool have the ability to analyze historical U.S. milk and feed prices,” Newton said. “This feature is for research purposes only, but provides the opportunity for dairy farmers to go back in time to determine how MPP would have worked as a risk management instrument had it been in place during prior years.”

Newton said that for dairy operators who would like to use their own expectations of milk, feed, and margin price risk, the MPP decision tool will soon include an advanced interface that will allow dairy operations to self-select all 48 milk and feed prices to determine how MPP may function to smooth dairy production margins.

“Another helpful feature is that when dairy operators use the MPP decision tool, with one click of the mouse they can easily toggle between the MPP web tool and the LGM-Dairy Analyzer ©, which they can use to examine forthcoming insurance contract offerings and anticipated premium costs,” Newton said. 

In partnership with NCPE, DMaP will host five Train-the-Trainer workshops across the United States, including one on Sept. 11 in Chicago.

For more information and educational material, visit and .





News Source:

John Newton, 217-300-1051

Free webinars help young adults get financially “$avvy”

Published August 26, 2014
Graphic dollar signs

URBANA, Ill. – Understanding available financial tools, how to use credit wisely, and investment strategies can help minimize debt and increase wealth. These and other money-management strategies will be presented in six free “Get $savvy: Grow Your Green Stuff” webinars, designed especially for the challenges faced by college students and young adults.

“Young adults need quality unbiased financial education to help them establish strong financial roots,” said University of Illinois Extension consumer economics educator Kathy Sweedler, who is coordinating the webinars. “Although this is true of adults at all ages, it’s especially true for those who have tried to enter the job force since the Great Recession. They’re up against high unemployment rates and saddled with significant student loan debt. The Project on Student Debt reported that the average amount of debt was $28,028.”

Registration is available at Individuals can register for one webinar or all six and “attend” from any computer with Internet access.

All six webinars will be offered on Tuesdays at 4 p.m. CST.

Dates and topics are:

Sept. 16 - Establishing your Roots

Explore the merits of various financial tools, such as a checking account, prepaid card, debit card, savings account, or a combination.

Oct. 21 - Staying on Good Terms with Credit

Learn how to choose the best credit cards and loans and how to avoid common debt mistakes.

Nov. 11 - Steps Toward Investing

Stocks, bonds, IRAs and other investing adventures

Jan. 27, 2015 - Life Transitions

Financial tools to help proactively manage life changes, such as moving, relationships, and new jobs

Feb. 24 - Job Benefits

Job benefits, such as retirement plans and health care, can significantly change an individual’s net worth. Learn how to make the most of the options.

April 21 - Love Your Loan

Student loans can be confusing and many repayment options exist. This webinar will explore some of the choices.

The webinars are hosted by University of Illinois Extension and University Student Financial Services and Cashier Operation’s Student Money Management Center.



The Inaugural International Food Security Initiative Lecture presented by Gerald Nelson

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Monsanto Room, College of ACES Library

The Inaugural International Food Security Initiative Lecture:
“Global Food Security in the Face of Changing Climate”
Presented by Gerald Nelson

Gerald Nelson is Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Jerry was the principal author of the report “Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate” released by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in May 2014. He most recently served as a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC where he coordinated its climate change research, led the policy analysis activities of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security, and was the principal investigator on major projects on food security and climate change issues funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the German and British aid agencies.

His research includes global modeling of the interactions among agriculture, land use, and climate change; consequences of macro-economic, sector and trade policies and climate change on land use and the environment using remotely sensed, geographic and socioeconomic data; and the assessment of the effects of genetically modified crops on the environment. Jerry was the coordinating lead author of the Drivers chapter of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Scenarios work. Previously, he was Professor in the Department of Agricultural Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, served as Visiting Scholar at the Economic Research Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and was Specialist and Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines. Jerry has been quoted in many publications, including the Economist, The New York Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, and the Tehran Times.
The International Food Security Initiative (IFSI), a new program of the Office of International Programs at the College of ACES, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, seeks to focus the expertise and resources of the University of Illinois to address the global challenge of ensuring that all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to achieve their human potential.



College of ACES New Student Welcome

1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
First and lower levels of the ACES Library, 1101 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

This event is part of campus’ Welcome Week and takes place after Convocation and the New Student Picnic. The ACES New Student Welcome is the chance for incoming freshman and transfer students to visit ACES registered student organization tables and mingle with some of our college’s student leaders, faculty, staff, and administrators. All ACES faculty and staff have been invited to attend.


JBT Banquet

5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
IHotel and Conference Center

ACES Scholarship Reception

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
IHotel and Conference Center

New planned swine research unit will allow more research on infant nutrition and cognition

Published June 19, 2014
Ryan Dilger, a U of I assistant professor of nutrition, studies learning and memory in piglets, and how nutrition affects brain development. Photo by Stephanie Henry, University of Illinois.

URBANA, Ill. – A substantial gift for a new biomedical swine research unit at the University of Illinois will increase capability for research regarding learning and memory in young pigs with the goal of understanding how nutrition affects brain development in human infants.

Mead Johnson Nutrition, maker of Enfamil infant formula, awarded the $945,000 gift to Ryan Dilger, a U of I assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences, to fund the new facility.

“The University of Illinois was chosen because of its truly unique combination of state-of-the-art neuroscience technology and long-standing history of dedication to pediatric nutrition research that includes the use of translational agrimedical research models,” said Brian Berg, a research scientist at Mead Johnson. 

Dilger said the new unit, set to be in place in early 2015, will enhance the ability of researchers to make new discoveries in cognitive development by using behavior to measure brain function.

“Basically, this gift is to develop new research infrastructure and increase our capabilities in testing how nutrition affects brain development,” Dilger said. “In the past, we have looked at such things as iron deficiency and its effects on learning and memory, and this gift will allow us to develop next-generation tools to test how early-life nutrition relates to brain function in an animal model that closely approximates developmental processes in humans.”

In coordination with other U of I researchers, including Sharon Donovan and Rod Johnson, Dilger has used animal models for studying human brain development in his research over the last several years. “Sharon, Rod, and I use the young pig as a biomedical research subject, with a major research focus on pediatric nutrition, immunology, and brain development. It took several years to develop the piglet model into its current state, and now we are taking it to the next level,” he said.

Current facilities have allowed Dilger and his lab to raise and monitor 24 pigs at a time from birth. The new, high through-put facility will provide the space and technology to work with 48 pigs at a time, with greater control over nutrient delivery and video monitoring of piglet behavior. An automated liquid feeding system, continuous video monitoring, and specialized testing and observation spaces, will allow the unit to run more efficiently.

The spearhead project in the new unit will test learning and memory through eye-blink conditioning studies. Young pigs will learn to associate a noise with a gentle puff of air blown into their eyes (much like the glaucoma test performed on humans at the eye doctor). Tests like these allow researchers to determine how dietary or environmental factors affect learning and memory. “Behavior remains as the most functional outcome for how the brain is working, just as with nutrition, we use growth as a global indicator of adequate nutrient supply,” he said.

Dilger explained that as young animals and humans consume a complete and nutritious diet, they grow well. “Here we ask, what is the optimal behavioral performance, in this case learning and memory, and is that function amenable to nutritional intervention? Then we can use cellular and molecular techniques to determine exactly how the relationship between nutrition and brain function works,” he said.

In an identical manner to human infants, specific regions of the piglet brain will mature over time and produce functional readouts measured in the behavioral task. Therefore, pigs will be able to acquire the task, learning when they hear the tone to close their eyes, Dilger said.

“We are quantifying how nutrients and bioactive components found in breast milk impact cognitive development, and whether similar effects can be achieved if these components are included in infant formula. The infant formula industry’s primary goal is to advance optimal infant nutrition. Thus, there is primary interest in aligning the nutrient profiles of breast milk and infant formula to help infants receive the best start in life,” he added.

“Nutrition has come a long way. We’ve basically identified all the nutrients and what happens in growth and metabolism if we have a deficiency. However, we understand less about whether improper nutrition causes long-term effects on the brain, and this is a serious problem globally as far as the effects micronutrient deficiencies have on short-term and long-term memory. Thus, we’re interested in studying nutrition during the late prenatal and early postnatal periods, and what effects this has on long-term cognitive development,” he said.

For more information on research from Dilger’s lab, visit


College of ACES Paul A. Funk Recognition, Deans Office Awards Banquet

5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Pear Tree Estate 2150 County Road 1000E (Dewey-Fisher Rd.) Champaign, IL 61822 ph: (217) 643-2074

Each spring the College recognizes the contributions of our faculty, staff, and graduate students through the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and Paul A. Funk Recognition Awards. These awards honor individuals who have demonstrated outstanding achievements or exceptional service to the College.


IBRL Groundbreaking

2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Ag Engineering Building, 1304 W Pennsylvania Ave. Reception following will be held in the Heritge Room, ACES LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue

ACES and Sciences Career Fair

1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), 201 East Peabody Drive, Champaign, IL 61820

Visit for more information regarding the career fair!