Agriculture

Harvest Public Media
7:58 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Climate, Space Create Challenges For Local Food

Josh Kilbane runs Yampa Valley Farms outside Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

Local food is no longer just a novelty. Farmers markets are growing nationwide and farms that sell directly to consumers brought in $1.3 billion in 2012, up eight percent from just five years earlier. Despite the demand, making local food work in some places is decidedly more difficult than others. Steamboat Springs, Colo., is one of those places.

Problem number one is infrastructure.

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Central Standard
2:26 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Pass The Pawpaw: Foraging For Missouri's Banana

The pawpaw fruit continues to ripen, just off the hiking trails at Burr Oak Woods located in Blue Springs, Mo.
Credit KCUR's Gina Kaufmann

You know how sometimes you stumble across a word you've never heard before in your entire life, and then suddenly, the word is everywhere? That happened to me with the pawpaw.

I was born and raised in Missouri, so discovering in my thirties that a random fruit with a made-up-sounding name is considered my state's own banana? That came as a shock (though, to be fair, it's also known as the Indiana banana and the West Virginia banana). 

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Harvest Public Media
7:38 am
Wed September 10, 2014

Heirlooms Passed Down By Seed Savers Exchange

: Steve Carlson handles some seeds of Trail of Tears corn. During the forced march in the 1830s from the southeastern U.S. to Oklahoma and Arkansas, Cherokee planted these seeds along the way.
Credit Sarah Boden / Harvest Public Media

Most vegetable seeds today are bred by seed companies to be hearty and easier to grow. They’re created by cross-breeding different varieties and selecting for specific characteristics.

Heirloom seeds, though, are different. Like your grandmother’s engagement ring or a dusty old photo album, heirloom seeds have been passed down through generations.

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Agriculture
8:25 am
Tue September 9, 2014

Monsanto Set To Settle GMO Wheat Cases

Genetically modified wheat has never been approved for farming, so nearly all of the wheat grown in the U.S. is a conventional variety.
Credit Lauren Tucker / Flickr--CC

Monsanto has agreed to settle some of the lawsuits brought by U.S. farmers who allege they lost money when an Oregon field was discovered to have been contaminated with an experimental genetically modified strain of wheat.

Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States is genetically modified, but GMO wheat has never been approved for farming.

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Agriculture
8:27 am
Mon September 8, 2014

U.S. Meat Inspection System In Disarray, Watchdogs Say

Jennifer Brdar worked as a temporary federal meat inspector at a big beef packing operation in Liberal, Kan.
Credit John McGrath / Hale Center for Journalism

HOOKER, Okla. – Jennifer Brdar’s dream job was to be a meat inspector for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, watching out for unwary consumers and making sure the meat on their dinner tables was clean and disease-free.

After earning an associate’s degree in meat science, Brdar was hired in March as a temporary federal meat inspector at a big beef packing operation just up the road in Liberal, Kan.

She lasted barely a month, walking away in frustration.

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Agriculture
12:15 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

U.S. Wheat Farmers Could Make Money As A Result Of Fighting In Ukraine

Farmers in Ukraine produced more than 22 million metric tons of wheat in the 2013-14 marketing year, to the U.S.’s nearly 58 million metric tons, according to USDA estimates.
Credit Valdemar Fishmen / Creative Commons

The ongoing turmoil in Ukraine could impact the world’s wheat supply and with reports that fighting is edging closer to a key Black Sea trading port, farmers and commodity brokers are paying attention.

  Pro-Russian rebels appear to be pushing closer to the Ukranian city of Mariupol, a strategic port city. As Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, any disruption in the harvest or transport of the country’s wheat crop could put a kink in global supply lines and could raise grain prices across the world.

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Agriculture
11:48 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Opposition Requests Recount In 'Right To Farm' Victory

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 10:33 pm

Opponents are seeking a recount of the statewide vote for Missouri’s “Right to Farm” constitutional amendment. The measure officially known as Amendment 1 narrowly passed in the Aug. 5 election.

The Missouri secretary of state’s office has confirmed that two recount requests have been filed regarding Amendment 1. One is from former state Sen. Wes Shoemyer, D-Clarence, on behalf of Missouri's Food for America, one of the groups that had campaigned against the amendment.

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Harvest Public Media
7:53 am
Wed August 27, 2014

USDA Predicts Drop In Farm Income

Farmers’ can anticipate a sharp drop in income this year, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In fact, the USDA predicts the $113 billion earned in 2014 will be the lowest amount of net farm income in five years. That’s equal to about a 14 percent fall from last year’s record amount, thanks mostly to a massive drop in crop prices.

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Harvest Public Media
8:17 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Marijuana Industry Faces Food Safety Test

Organic Alternatives Manager Maka Kalaí holds a card with cannabis safety tips. The cards were developed by the Cannabis Business Alliance and are handed out with every purchase at the Fort Collins, Colo., store.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

  When Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use earlier this year, it also opened up the sale of food products infused with the drug to anyone over the age of 21. That means a whole set of bakers and food companies have to ensure their products aren’t contaminated with foodborne pathogens, and that they’re not falling in to the hands of children or too potent to eat.

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Agriculture
11:42 am
Mon August 25, 2014

Millions Lost In Grain Elevator Failure Prompts Talk Of Safety Net

Before it defaulted on loans and was shuttered by regulator, the Pierce Elevator was a major business in town.
Credit Bill Kelly / for Harvest Public Media

In Nebraska, farmers say they’re left with about $9 million in unpaid claims when a grain elevator failed in the town of Pierce. It looks as if farmers’ losses could eventually top $4 million.

Without a financial safety net to depend on, farmers are watching this case in eastern Nebraska. They’re looking for lessons in order to avoid another massive financial wreckage in the future.

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Harvest Public Media
7:51 am
Wed August 20, 2014

My Farm Roots: Hard Work A Life Lesson

Thousands of miles, and years, away from his upbringing on a Kansas farm during the height of the Great Depression, Wilson O’Connell now lives in the Boston suburbs.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media

Every year on my birthday I know there’s a thin, flat package waiting for me to open. It’s wrapped with neat corner folds and held together perfectly with just three pieces of tape – nothing wasted.

I always knock on the front and hear the crisp, deep thud of a hardcover book. I know it’s a book. And I know who it’s from.

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Harvest Public Media
7:56 am
Mon August 18, 2014

What Goes Into The Price Of Your Tomato

Vegetable farmer Tom Goeke of St. Charles, Mo., sells his Red Deuce tomatoes wholesale at about $1.50 per pound.
Credit Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Late summer in the Midwest is tomato season. For tomato growers around that country, it’s time to pick their bounty and calculate their earnings.

While sun and rain might be free, tomato farmers have to carefully weigh everything else they put in to growing their crop. Research and the development of new tools – from novel seed varieties resistant to diseases to additional fertilizers – has changed the input costs for growers.

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Tell KCUR
11:10 am
Thu August 14, 2014

MAP: What Tomatoes Cost In Kansas City

How much did your tomato cost? Fill out our form at the end of this story.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

 No matter how you say tomato, we wanted to know how much yours cost.

After our roughly two-week online poll, Kansas Citians have revealed some of the cheapest and most expensive red spheres in the metropolitan area.  

(See an interactive map below with all the juicy details.)

Results came in from across the metro. Among the cheapest tomatoes were heirlooms in Missouri at an Independence farmer’s market, at 73 cents apiece.

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Harvest Public Media
8:20 am
Wed August 13, 2014

My Farm Roots: Rich With Life

Farmer John Curtis grows tomatoes in the hoop house at Barefoot Gardens CSA in Macomb, Ill.
Credit Rich Egger / for Harvest Public Media

Farmers are used to waking up with the rooster’s crow. But having grown up a suburban kid, John Curtis was used to a more conventional alarm clock.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in the Caribbean, he managed a farm for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A long way from his Wisconsin home, he found a love for the most Midwestern job – that of a farmer.

“I loved walking out on the landscape and finding things I could eat,” Curtis said. “I found agriculture to be fascinating.”

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Harvest Public Media
8:21 am
Mon August 11, 2014

Drone To Fly Over Livestock Operations And 'Ag-Gag' Laws

Using unmanned aerial vehicles is a controversial practice, whether to scout farmland or to skirt laws outlawing the filming of farms.
Credit Lima Pix / Flickr--CC

An independent journalist says he’s found a way around the so-called “ag-gag” laws – flying drones over large livestock operations to document animal welfare problems and pollution.

Will Potter, a Washington D.C.-based environmental blogger, raised $75,000 on Kickstarter to buy drones and other equipment to do investigative work tracking animal abuse and pollution problems on large livestock operations.

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Harvest Public Media
8:31 am
Wed August 6, 2014

New Poultry Rules Meet Mixed Reception

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on July 31 unveiled the first major overhaul of the nation's poultry-inspection system in more than 50 years.
Credit Bigstock

Change is coming to the poultry industry, but not everyone is happy about it.

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Agriculture
7:45 am
Wed August 6, 2014

'Right to Farm' Passes Narrowly, Recount Possible

In Callaway County, Mo., Jeff Jones feeds grain to his foraging cattle once a day. He opposed Amendment 1 in part because a 10,000-hog confinement facility is trying to move in next to his farm.
Credit (Kristopher Husted/Harvest Public Media)

Missouri’s so-called “Right to Farm” amendment appears to have passed Tuesday but with such a small margin that there could be a recount.

With all precincts reporting, Amendment 1 won by just 2,528 votes.

At a victory party Tuesday night, Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst said he will watch to see if a recount is requested but he doesn’t expect the results to change.

“I’m fully confident that the vote will stand,” he said.

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Harvest Public Media
2:55 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

My Farm Roots: She's Her Dad's 'Son'

Emily Robbins and her father, Vic, at the family's farm in Osage County, Kan.
Credit (Courtesy Emily Robbins)

Emily Robbins is a city girl now.

Well, I’m using that term as a cliché. Robbins, 27, lives in Kansas City and works as an engineer at a large firm. She is part of a profession that is made up of just 14 percent women.

Her choice of professions makes sense, though, when you know that she started out as her father’s “boy.”

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Harvest Public Media
7:56 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Farmers On The Prairie Work Through Modern Day Dust Bowl

Farmer John Schweiser, 80, has had to take shelter from recent dust storms. He also lived through the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

When the wind picked up from the south on John Schweiser’s farm outside Rocky Ford, Colo., the sky would go black. A charging wall of dust would force the 80-year-old farmer and his wife to hunker down in their ranch-style farmhouse.

“You’d look up and here’d come this big ol’ rolling dirt,” Schweiser said. “You couldn’t see how high it was.”

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Harvest Public Media
8:22 am
Wed July 30, 2014

My Farm Roots: Coming Home To Roost

On the farm, Hromas houses more than 500 chickens.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

When they heard Dan Hromas’ truck rolling in, the chickens came strutting. The auburn-feathered Rhode Island Reds stood out, even in the tall, green brome grass of Hromas’ rented 3-acre pasture outside of York, Neb.

The pasture is the center of Hromas’ new farming enterprise. For a little over a year he’s been selling farm eggs to local restaurants, grocery stores, and direct to customers in southeast Nebraska.

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Tell KCUR
4:03 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Tell KCUR: How Much Does A Tomato Cost In Kansas City?

These are just some of the many, many tomatoes on sale in the Kansas City area this summer. How much did your tomato cost? Fill out the online form below.
Credit Alyson Raletz / KCUR

Summer: it's hot, it's time for a vacation and it's delicious, juicy tomato season.

But not all tomatoes are created equal. And they're not all the same price, either. 

Tell KCUR: How much did your tomato cost?

On an upcoming segment of our daily talk show, Central Standard, we’re investigating the variation in price and quality of tomatoes you can buy in grocery stores and farmer’s markets.  

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Harvest Public Media
10:36 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Voter Guide To Missouri’s ‘Right To Farm’ Measure

Constitutional Amendment No. 1 on the Aug. 5 ballot is focused on the agriculture industry, a cornerstone of the Missouri economy.

It has been called the “right to farm” amendment, because it would inscribe the importance of agriculture in the Missouri state Constitution.

Click here for more

Ballot language:

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Harvest Public Media
7:58 am
Tue July 29, 2014

Missouri's 'Right To Farm' Pits Farmer Against Farmer

Farmer Jeff Jones and his daughters feed grain to their foraging cattle once a day in Callaway County, Mo. They’re concerned about the health and environmental effects a potential hog farm next door might have.
Credit Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

The agriculture industry is a cornerstone of the Midwest economy. In some states, it may even become a right.

In Missouri, the so-called “right to farm” is on the ballot in the form of an amendment to the state Constitution. And the controversial provision could be a model for Constitutional additions on other ag-heavy states.

Though the “right to farm” provision is focused on agriculture, it has pitted farmer against farmer with some worried that the results could change the face of farming in the Midwest.

Accountability concerns

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Harvest Public Media
8:23 am
Mon July 28, 2014

The Forensic Technology That Can Tell If There Are Drugs In Your Milk

Dairy cows like these on Dorine Boelen’s farm in Brooklyn, Iowa, can be treated with antibiotics, but their bodies must be free of the medication before they are allowed to contribute milk to the food supply.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

TV shows like “CSI” have made forensics a hot topic, spawning books and even science programs for kids. The same technology used at crime scenes to link a stray hair to a suspect can also find antibiotics or other medications in milk and meat. And the use of sophisticated testing is becoming increasingly available for livestock producers, who stand to lose lots of money if their products are tainted.

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Harvest Public Media
8:19 am
Wed July 23, 2014

My Farm Roots: Carrying On A Farm Family Legacy

For four generations, Riley Lewis’ family has farmed a plot of land near Forest City, Iowa. Lewis currently raises corn, soybeans and hogs.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

In his home in Forest City, Iowa, Riley Lewis has the original warranty deed for his farm, signed by President James Buchanan and issued to one Elias Gilbert, a soldier who served in the War of 1812.

“He moved here, northeast of Forest City, and lived there for one year,” Lewis said, which was the obligation veterans had if they homesteaded. “And then he sold it to Robert Clark, who was the founder of Forest City.”

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Central Standard
4:45 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

The Modern Role Of State And County Fairs

Food vendors are setting up at the Wyandotte County Fair.
Credit Christina Lieffring / KCUR

Counties and states all over America host seasonal fairs. Originally, they were organized to share the latest technology in agriculture and genes among livestock. But in an age of instant information are state and county fairs still relevant? On Tuesday's Central Standard, we investigate the modern function of fairs, and talk with some professional livestock judges about their criteria for appraising animals and producing the food of tomorrow.

Guests:

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Harvest Public Media
8:25 am
Mon July 21, 2014

On Front Lines, Farmers Struggle Against Chemical-Resistant Weeds

The arrangement of the leaves helped Hargrafen distinguish Palmer amaranth from other pigweeds.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

A fast spreading, crop destroying weed may be coming to the farms near you.

Palmer amaranth, which has plagued southern farms for decades, has been marching across the Midwest. It can decimate a crop. It can withstand many common herbicides. And it can cost farmers millions.

Roger Hargrafen, a farmer in Muscatine County, Iowa, is on the front lines in the battle against Palmer amaranth. His is one of four Iowa farms confirmed as having it.

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Harvest Public Media
7:45 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Acres Of Genetically Modified Corn Nearly Doubled In A Decade

More than 90 percent of U.S. field corn is genetically modified, according to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Central Standard
1:08 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

Without Intervention, Old Barns Stand Defiantly Or Fall Unceremoniously

Kill Creek Farm in DeSoto, Kan. is home to a nostalgia-worthy barn.
Credit Lori Murdock

The barn is an icon of the American work ethic and rural nostalgia. On Wednesday's Central Standard, we explored the trend of rehabbing and restoring old barns that would otherwise fall into irreversible decay.

We also spoke with people throughout the nation and in our own area about the challenges of preserving these structures.

Do old barns -- the red ones with big huge doors -- still matter, even as larger steel structures replace them in function?

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Harvest Public Media
8:01 am
Wed July 16, 2014

My Farm Roots: Farm Life Anything But Quiet

Jack and Diane Aaron spent years in Kansas City, Kan., but have embraced their new rural life in Raymore, Mo.
Suzanne Hogan for Harvest Public Media

Jack and Diane Aaron lived in Strawberry Hill in Kansas City, Kan., for decades. They loved their neighborhood and it was close to family. But when a friend passed away and left them land on a farm, they decided to take a chance on country living.

While farm life is different, they found it’s anything but quiet.

“Out here we’ve got, just different sounds. We have birds that will wake us up. A cat that likes to wake me up at six because he wants to eat,” Diane Aaron said. “It’s peaceful, but it doesn’t make you crazy,”

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