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Feed a Sheep Sorghum, Save a Butterfly

October 15, 1993

WASHINGTON (AP) _ How could feeding sorghum to sheep help the monarch butterfly?

By preventing overgrazing on the monarch’s winter habitat in Mexico, says the U.S. Feed Grains Council.

″A sorghum sheep-feeding demonstration sponsored by the ... council may help solve the plight of the monarch butterflies in Mexico and increase exports of U.S.-produced grain sorghum,″ the organization reported recently.

The council has been conducting a sheep-feeding demonstration, using grain sorghum produced in the United States.

″In one year, the program has put 150,000 head of lamb on feed as a direct result of the demonstration, and we project up to 450,000 head on feed over the next two years,″ said William Mark, the council’s director of international operations.

″The program has clearly demonstrated the value of putting animals on feed as opposed to simply grazing,″ he said.

Furthermore, the Mexican government heard of the demonstration ″and determined that it could not only help local sheep producers, but could help save the winter habitat of the monarchs,″ the council said.

The habitat was being destroyed by overgrazing by local sheep producers, it related.

″The overgrazing of the land was leading to a number of problems, including soil erosion and a decline in the number of trees,″ Mark said.

A subsidy program was begin recently by the Mexican government, allowing peasants to participate in the council feeding system.

The council cited the following results: decreased grazing of the endangered land, increased carrying capacity of the land, increased profits for the peasants and environmental protection of the monarchs’ winter habitat.

″It is not only an environmental success,″ Mark said. ″There is a direct link here between improving the production practices in Mexico and increasing the sales of U.S.-produced feed grains.″

The council is a private organization that develops and expands export markets for U.S. feed grains and co-products.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Two new bonsai facilities are being dedicated this week at the U.S. National Arboretum here, which is overseen by the Agricultural Research Service.

The Kaneshiro Tropical Conservatory and attached temperate greenhouse and the Yamaguchi North American Garden are gifts of the National Bonsai Foundation, which privately raised the $300,000 for their construction.

The tropical conservatory, an airy structure of aluminum and glass, is named in memory of Hawaii’s Haruo Kaneshiro, ″who is recognized as having been the father of the art of tropical bonsai in Hawaii,″ the research service said.

The Yamaguchi North American Garden is named for George Yamatuchi in recognition of the California nurseryman’s contribution to horticulture and to the art of bonsai.

The garden serves as a bridge linking the Japanese and North American bonsai pavilions.