Agriculture

Agriculture
7:45 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Beef Herd May Be Poised For Growth, And Cheaper Steak

Even if the beef herd begins expanding again in 2014 it could take two years for the effects to show up in consumer prices.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

  For the first time in nearly 10 years, the nation’s beef herd may be poised for growth, which could mean relief from rising meat prices. But with the fewest cattle in the beef supply since the 1960s, slow growth won’t cut prices anytime soon.

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Harvest Public Media
8:30 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Herbicide-Resistant Crops One Step Closer To US Fields

New herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans are a step closer to reaching farm fields in the U.S.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

New herbicide-resistant corn and soybeans are a step closer to reaching farm fields in the U.S. They would help farmers control weeds that are no longer killed by the popular herbicide, Roundup.

Dow Agrosciences has engineered new crops that can withstand the herbicide 2,4-D, giving farmers a new tool against weeds resistant to Roundup.

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Harvest Public Media
6:46 am
Mon January 6, 2014

The New Wheat Behind Whole Grain White Bread

Food companies want to capitalize on the growing market of white bread fans who want to eat whole wheat. A new variety of wheat makes that easier.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

A new wheat variety may have cracked the code to marry the fluffiness of white bread with whole grain nutrition.

For a long time, American bread makers have been in a bind. Many consumers like the texture and taste of white bread, but want the nutritional benefits of whole grains.

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Harvest Public Media
6:20 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Sub-Zero Temperatures Have Farmers Worried About Wheat Crop

A dusting of snow covers a winter wheat crop.
Credit couleewinds / Flickr--CC

In parts of Kansas, forecasts of biting cold temperatures with lows five or ten degrees below zero has farmers worried about the wheat crop that’s in the ground.

Hard red winter wheat is the most common wheat variety grown in the United States. It’s often used to make bread. Planted in the fall, it lays dormant underground in the winter months. It’s hardy. But bitter cold temperatures for a few consecutive days can lower the temperature of the soil to dangerous levels.

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Harvest Public Media
9:29 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Food Hubs Try To Grow Local Farms

Marty Travis, right, started the Stewards of the Land food hub in 2005. His son Will, left, helps him transport food from local farms to area restaurants.
Credit Sean Powers / Harvest Public Media

Restaurants across the country have jumped on the local food bandwagon. They’re trying to source more of their produce from nearby farms, but it's not easy. Enter: Food hubs.

Food hubs are popping up across the country. These food processing and distribution centers make it easier for restaurants, grocery stores and others to buy local food. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that there are more than 220 of them in 40 states plus the District of Columbia.

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Harvest Public Media
7:55 am
Mon December 30, 2013

As 2013 Comes To A Close, Still No Farm Bill

Farmers across the United States worry as the farm bill continues to be stuck in gridlock at the nation's Capitol.
Credit Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

For the second straight year, farmers are heading into a new year without a farm bill. The massive package provides government support for farmers and ranchers. But, divisions in Congress, including over the nutrition programs that make up the bulk of the spending, have kept it from the president’s desk.

Farmers say it’s difficult to plan their crops and make other business decisions without a farm bill. Instead, Iowa State University agricultural economist Chad Hart says farmers must focus on the information they have.

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Harvest Public Media
7:48 am
Mon December 30, 2013

Kansas And Missouri Hog Farmers Battle Deadly Virus

Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus continues to plague hog operations across the country, including Kansas and Missouri. The outbreak is raising larger questions about international trade.

The deadly virus has been detected in 19 states. Colorado’s state veterinarian Keith Roehr compares its spread to a wildfire.

“If you have an infectious agent, it’s like a spark. If you have a susceptible population it’s like dry wood,” says Roehr.

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Harvest Public Media
7:30 am
Mon December 30, 2013

New Crops Could Kill Insects By Targeting Their Genes

Southern corn rootworm beetles eat corn laced with RNA in a lab at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Scientists want to know how long it takes for rootworms to evolve resistance to RNA-interference technology.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

With rootworms building resistance to genetically modified corn that makes its own pesticide, seed companies are working on new crops that target the insects’ genes. But some worry about unintended consequences when the technology moves from the lab to the field.

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Harvest Public Media
8:17 am
Fri December 27, 2013

Farm Bill Set To Expire, But ‘Dairy Cliff’ Not Quite Imminent

No need to hoard milk and ice cream over New Year’s Day. Turns out, the “dairy cliff” isn’t as steep as we may have once thought.

For over a year, farm bill watchers have warned that the milk prices would balloon to $7-8 per gallon if the farm bill expires without a replacement – sending us over what has been termed the “dairy cliff.”

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Harvest Public Media
8:12 am
Fri December 27, 2013

The Top Agriculture Stories Of 2013

A screen grab from "So God Made A Farmer," an ad for Ram Trucks run by Dodge during the Super Bowl.

Big companies made big news. Muddy fields made for major headaches. And a Farm Bill delay makes the list for the second consecutive year.

If you follow Harvest Public Media, you’ll be familiar with the top stories of 2013. Seems this year brought lots of national and international news – a far cry from our first days when we wrote mostly about issues in agriculture and food production.

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Harvest Public Media
7:39 am
Tue December 24, 2013

Sellers Squeezed By High Price Of Popcorn

A Del’s Popcorn shop employee in Decatur, Ill., starts the vintage popcorn popper. Del’s relies heavily on holiday sales, but is struggling with the high price of popcorn.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

U.S. popcorn sellers took a big hit from the 2012 drought, which caused one of the worst popcorn harvests in recent memory. Crops not irrigated were decimated and low supplies continue to force local candy shops and giant movie theater chains alike to pay high prices for the golden grain, biting into their profit margin.

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Harvest Public Media
8:49 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Poultry Inspection Rules In Focus On Capitol Hill

A bipartisan group of senators is pressuring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finalize changes to the way poultry is inspected.

The new system is controversial. Advocates say it would save taxpayer money by shifting certain inspection duties from federal employees to company workers and allowing for faster processing. Some inspectors and consumer groups, though, oppose the changes and say it could compromise food safety.

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Harvest Public Media
8:05 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Suspended Drug Sales Focuses Attention On Cattle-Feeding Additive

Some 6,500 Holsteins are “finished” at this 2,000-acre Ordway, Colo., feedlot, where the growth promotion drug Zilmax is no longer used because it was pulled from the market by its manufacturer.
Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR

When the people from the drug company came out to visit Tyler Karney at Ordway Feedyard on Colorado’s eastern plains, he was a little skeptical.

They said their product, Zilmax, could put another 30 pounds on an animal in the last days before slaughter. Then he started blending it into the feed for the 6,500 head of Holsteins at this huge feedlot.

“We feed it the last 20 days of the feeding period and when you drive by, you can actually see a physical change in the animal,” Karney said. “They’re chest floor’s wider and just, a boxier animal. It’s kinda hard to believe.”

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Agriculture
3:28 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Kansas Congressional Delegation Sparring Over Budget's Impact On NBAF

Senator Lynn Jenkins speaks in support of NBAF at groundbreaking ceremonies earlier this year
Credit Laura Ziegler

Some fissures have erupted among the Kansas Congressional delegation over how the House budget bill might affect the proposed National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF). 

The Department of Homeland Security project is currently under construction in Manhattan, Kan., but is behind schedule and underfunded.

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Harvest Public Media
9:19 am
Mon December 16, 2013

FDA Inspects Just 2 Percent Of Imported Food Shipments

According to a recent Food and Drug Administration report, FDA regulators inspected less than two percent of the food shipments that were imported to the U.S. in the 2012 fiscal year.

FDA inspectors are responsible for all domestic and imported food except meat, poultry and eggs, which fall under U.S. Department of Agriculture purview.

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Harvest Public Media
7:52 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Farm Bill Falls Victim To Polarization, Gridlock In Washington

Reps. Colin Peterson, Frank Lucas and Steve King listen as members of the farm bill conference committee give opening statements.
Credit House Agriculture Committee / Facebook page

If it seems like Congress just can’t get the farm bill done, well … that’s because it can’t.

All year long, Washington lawmakers have been saying they want to pass a full five-year farm bill. But even though leaders of the House-Senate conference committee say they are close, they have acknowledged it just won’t get done this year. They’re pushing it off until January.

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Harvest Public Media
9:52 am
Thu December 12, 2013

FDA Pushing To Limit Livestock Antibiotics

Bob and Sandy Young's hog barn near Buckhart, Ill.
Credit Bill Wheelhouse / Harvest Public Media

The FDA wants to phase out antibiotics in meat.

Regulators released a broad plan Wednesday, designed to prevent meat producers from using drugs that are also used to treat sick humans. That means some changes Midwest farmers and ranchers will have to get used to.

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Harvest Public Media
8:04 am
Wed December 11, 2013

One Thing 2013 Won't Deliver: A Farm Bill

Congress won’t pass a farm bill before early next year.

That was the message from Washington Tuesday, when the principal farm bill players emerged from negotiations and announced they won’t have a full bill ready before the House adjourns for the year on Friday.

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Harvest Public Media
8:32 am
Mon December 9, 2013

Pheasants Losing Habitat To Farmland

Farm-raised pheasants like this one, wearing blinders so it doesn't fight other birds, are being transported to areas that used to be known for pheasant hunting in order to prop up declining population.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

As farmers across the Midwest have simplified the landscape and plowed up grassland to grow more corn and soybeans, habitat for pheasants, quail and other grassland birds has become increasingly scarce and their numbers are falling.

In Nebraska, wild pheasant concentrations have fallen 86 percent since their peak in the 1960s. The pheasant harvest during hunting season in Iowa is off 63 percent from the highs reached in the 1970s. In areas that used to be overrun, you’ll struggle to find a pheasant now.

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Agriculture
7:58 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Kansas Senator Wants Farm Bill Talks To Resume

Credit Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts says he isn't satisfied with the pace of negotiations on the farm bill. The legislation is in a conference committee where negotiators will try to work out differences between versions passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The current farm bill has already expired, which means some programs will end later this month and prices for commodities like milk will go up if there isn't some kind of agreement.

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Agriculture
8:12 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Drought Causes Challenges For Kansas Christmas Tree Farmers

Credit Mangrove Mike / Flickr--CC

  The Thanksgiving weekend marks the start of Christmas tree sales in many places. And here in Kansas, a lot of the trees sold are grown in the state. But Christmas tree farmers have faced challenges in recent years because of drought conditions.

Eldon Clawson, president of the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, says some growers have had to take steps like adding drip irrigation to keep trees healthy.

“It’s an investment, a major investment, but it’s paid off for their trees,” says Clawson.

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Harvest Public Media
8:06 am
Tue December 3, 2013

How Microbes Can Help Farmers Feed People

Researchers at chemical company BASF are working to harness bacteria and microbes for beneficial purposes.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Farmers and scientists have long understood that what lives beneath the soil affects how crops grow. Often, they work to fight plant diseases—warding off infectious viruses and damaging fungi, for example. But now some microbiologists are focused on how to harness the good things microbes can do, with the goal of increasing farmers’ yields and diminishing their dependence on chemical inputs.

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Harvest Public Media
8:11 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Rural Areas Worry About Food Stamp Cuts

The town of Sandoval was born along U.S. Route 51, which runs north-south from Kentucky to the state of Wisconsin. Once a booming corridor, this area in southern Illinois now sees extreme poverty.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

The next farm bill is all but certain to contain cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly known as food stamps. Long championed by legislators from urban districts, the food stamp program isn’t just an urban concern. Families living amid fertile farmland struggle to put food on the table and increasingly rely on SNAP benefits. 

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Harvest Public Media
8:06 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Organic Crop Acreage Up Dramatically In Missouri

Organic farms are growing in Missouri and Kansas.
Credit Wikimedia Commons - CC

Demand for organic foods continues to grow, and according to recent estimates more farmers are switching to organic methods to keep up. In Missouri alone, acreage of organic crops has increased six-fold in the past 15 years. 

Walk into a grocery store these days and you’re likely to find whole sections devoted to organic foods. The organic label gives insight into how the food was produced, usually without the aid of synthetic chemicals, antibiotics and food additives.

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Harvest Public Media
6:09 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Illinois Farmers Put The Pumpkin In Your Thanksgiving Pie

Pumpkin varieties don’t stop at your usual orange jack-o-lantern. Ackerman also grows the One Too Many.
Credit Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

This Thanksgiving, hungry families all over the country will finish off their holiday meal with a little slice of the Midwest. That’s because the vast majority of all pumpkin that comes from a can and winds up in a pie got its start on a vine in Illinois.

Pumpkin patches are popular destinations for families seeking fall fun and you’ll find roadside farm stands all over the country. But pumpkins are big business in Illinois, where farmers feed canning factories hungry for a special kind of pumpkin that looks nothing like those you see on Halloween.

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Up to Date
9:51 am
Tue November 26, 2013

How The U.S. Meat Industry Beefed Up Its Production

Factory farming has become common in the American meat industry.
Credit David W. Oliver / Flickr-CC

Got a beef with the meat industry? You’re not the only one, but it’s taken many decades for the industry to assume the shape it has today.

In the first part of Tuesday's Up to Date, we talk about the history of meat production and distribution in the United States. We examine the shift from family to factory livestock farming, how government intervention has affected the industry and how the popularity of organics is changing the conversation.

Guests:

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Harvest Public Media
11:39 am
Mon November 25, 2013

USDA: Food Stamp Program Not Driving Much Healthy Eating

The federal government’s food stamp program could do more to encourage healthy eating among program recipients, according to a recent analysis conducted by the USDA, which administers the program.

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Harvest Public Media
7:43 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Some Grocery Store Meat Will Now Be Labeled With Country Of Origin

The pork cooler at a Hyvee grocery store in Columbia, Mo., is full of meat. New rules that just went into full effect force meatpackers to detail where much of this meat was born, raised and slaughtered.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

A new labeling rule that went into full effect Saturday requires meatpackers and retailers to provide consumers with more information about where their meat comes from.

The country-of-origin labeling mandate (COOL) forces retailers and meatpackers to detail where the livestock from which meat came was born, raised and slaughtered. It applies to certain cuts of beef, veal, chicken, pork, lamb and goat sold in the supermarket. Processed, deli and ground meats are exempt from the new rules.

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KC Currents
10:21 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Meet The Saddest Man In Kansas On Thanksgiving

A turkey pecks for food outside of Frank Reese's century-old farmhouse.
Esther Honig KCUR

For Kansas farmer Frank Reese, Thanksgiving is a sad holiday. He raises heritage turkeys, a breed very different than those you can buy at in a modern-day supermarket. Few farmers in this country are still raising that kind, and many breeds of the bird are endangered.

To finance his preservation efforts, Reese has to work two jobs, and sell hundreds of birds a year to slaughter.

On the farm

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Agriculture
8:04 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Organic Food Producers Struggle To Find Grains

James Frantzen, left, and his father Tom Frantzen run an organic farm in New Hampton, Iowa.
Credit Clay Masters / Harvest Public Media

Organic food is a hot market in the U.S.—the Organic Trade Association says that sales over the past five years have grown 35 percent. But there’s a problem in the supply chain – not enough organic grain.

Many producers in the farm belt aren’t willing to take on organic production despite a hefty price premium. That has left organic food companies scrambling to find enough raw ingredients for the products that hit grocery store shelves. Just as corn and soybeans dominate conventional processed food and meat, these same grains are often key ingredients for organic foods.

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