At a farm in Kansas City, Kan., a group of young men from are developing their entrepreneurship skills through farming. Boys Grow, a non-profit agency, works with these kids to develop business skills as they sell their agricultural commodities.
On Wednesday's Central Standard, we talked to two of these boys about their experience with Boys Grows and their hopes for the future.
U.S. farmers are more than three times more likely to commit suicide than other workers, a new study has found.
University of Iowa researcher Wendy Ringgenberg compiled a study based on Occupational Safety and Health Administration farm death statistics from 1992 to 2010. In a recent interview with Iowa Public Radio, Ringgenberg said suicide rates have likely been underestimated and underreported.
Farms aren’t just for food any more. With the local food movement growing, more savvy farmers are putting a price tag on more than those organic tomatoes. They are instead marketing and selling the “farm experience” in the form of agritourism attractions.
Much of the Midwest and the Plains have been battling drought for years. And the current winter wheat crop looks like it will be one of the worst in recent memory, stressing farmers in the heart of the Wheat Belt – from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.
In Nebraska, a full quarter of the winter wheat crop is rated poor to very poor, and Nebraska farmers are doing comparatively well. More than 40 percent of the wheat acres in Colorado are poor or worse; nearly 60 percent in Kansas and Texas; and an incredible 80 percent in Oklahoma.
Cargill, one of the country’s largest pork producers,announced Monday that it will stop using gestation crates, the controversial narrow cages meant to house and separate sows. Cargill is joining other major meatpackers, like competitors Tyson and Smithfield Foods, in planning to move away from hog crates.
Farmers and ag groups in the Midwest say the U.S. river system needs an upgrade, and they’re hopeful it will come with proposed improvements in legislation recently passed by Congress.
The nation’s rivers are essential for moving agricultural products to market.
“It’s our third coast, if you will,” said Jim Tarmann, field services director with the Illinois Corn Growers Association. “Over 60 percent of our grain exports move via the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. That’s how things get to our world markets.”
U.S. Congress members are throwing their support behind a proposed “right to farm” amendment in Missouri’s constitution. But critics are pointing to the measure’s ambiguous language as problematic.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Republican from the central part of the state, is one of several U.S. representatives pushing for Missouri voters to approve the amendment in a state-wide primary election Aug. 5.
Remember that scene from the 1979 movie The Jerk where Steve Martin’s character leaps with glee over the delivery of new phone books? That same sequence plays out every five years when the U.S. Department of Agriculture drops its agricultural census and ag data nerds everywhere rejoice.
The U.S. hasn’t had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in more than 80 years. In Brazil, the latest recorded outbreak was in 2006, though it occurred in an area that would not be allowed to export to the U.S. under the proposed rule.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to green light a proposal that would allow imports of fresh beef from certain sections of Brazil, despite the South American country’s history of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, a highly contagious pathogen that cripples cattle.
The number of farms in the U.S. is shrinking, according to the latest Census of Agriculture, released Friday. The census is taken every five years and shows the changing landscape for farmers.
Since 2007, the U.S. lost 95,000 farms, or about 4 percent. There was a similar drop in the number of farmers. But the number of Latino farmers grew by 20 percent, according to the Census. There are also more African American farmers.
Terry Glenn’s neighborhood was hit hard by the recession, and it wasn’t booming before the rough times.
He saw houses crumble, get boarded up and left to rot. He saw neighbors moving away. And he worried that Ivanhoe, on Kansas City’s east side, was dying.
“We said, ‘We’ve got to look inside of this and see exactly what the problem is,’” Glenn said. “And once we did, we found out that the families were moving to try to find better schools, find healthier food, find different places that their family can go and have a good community.”
Farm work has always been one of the most dangerous jobs in America -- as the government has reported, academics have researched and those doing the work well know.
But new research from the University of California-Davis suggests for the first time that it’s a much more dramatic problem than the federal government recognizes, making the hazards faced by agriculture workers the most undercounted of any industry in the U.S.
The smell of baking dinner rolls fills the kitchen at Decorah High School in northeast Iowa. As two kitchen workers mix a fresh broccoli salad, another, Chad Elliott, ladles tomato soup from a large metal pot on the stove into white plastic buckets for delivery to the town’s elementary schools.
Elliott says most of the food served in the district is made from scratch and many ingredients come from local farms and dairies.
Farm stands and farmers markets remain really important for many local farmers, but U.S. consumers barely buy any food directly from farms. That’s why local farmers are trying to crack in to the big institutional markets such as grocery stores, work cafeterias, schools and hospitals.
It can be a lonely, difficult life when you’re a farmer on the high plains of western Kansas.
On Wednesday's Up to Date, we discuss a new memoir about a woman who returned to the family farm. We talk with her about the hardships she faced-- ghosts from her past, adjusting back to farm life after years away and dealing with the looming threat of drought as the nearby river levels kept dropping.
Farmers are making inroads supplying local food to hungry city foodies, but many producers are trying to grow more food in urban centers. City real estate is at a premium, so some producers are finding more space by using what’s called “vertical farming,” and going up rather than spreading out.
Growers across the country are heading indoors, using greenhouses and hydroponics – growing plants in a water and nutrient solution instead of soil and using lamps to replace sunlight. Vertical farming takes that to a new level.
The blue corduroy jacket worn by high school students in FFA, formerly the Future Farmers of America, is an icon of rural life. To the average city dweller the jacket is a vestige of dwindling, isolated farm culture, as fewer and fewer young people grow up on farms. The numbers tell a different story however. In spite of that demographic shift, a record number of kids are donning blue jackets this year.
Nebraska hog farmers aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a proposal that would allow meatpacking companies more control over the state’s hog industry. And farmers all over the country are watching.
Currently, a 1998 state law bans meatpacking companies from owning and raising the hogs the process. But lawmakers have proposed an end to the ban, which would allow for more vertical integration of the hog industry.
By most measures David Kesten's hens are living the good life.
"They can act like chickens, they can run around," says Kesten, who's raising hens in an old wooden shed in the open countryside near Concordia, Mo. "They can go out and catch bugs, they can dig in the ground."
But most U.S. hens live crammed into very close quarters, according to Joe Maxwell, with the Humane Society of the U.S. And he says that's just wrong.
"There are some things we should not do to animals," says Maxwell.
: Robbie Maass shows his mother, Leah, the Commodity Challenge game that is helping him understand market tools. Leah Maass says her farm could benefit from better use of the tools and she’s hoping Robbie will be able to learn how to put them to work for the family
On a frigid winter day, Chad Hart tries to warm his economics students at Iowa State University to the idea of managing some of the risk of farming using the commodity markets. Because, as he told them on the first day of class, farmers don’t make money planting or harvesting crops; they make money selling them. And Hart knows that marketing—managing those sales for the best profit—can be intimidating.
The so-called farmland real estate bubble appears to be starting to deflate. After years of steep property values, a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City shows the high times may be coming to an end.
Since 2011, the price for a plot of a farmland across the Midwest has been growing at breakneck speed. Most of that has been due to the same trajectory in the price of major commodity crops like corn and soybeans. Now, with crop prices slipping, farmers are set to bring in less money. Money they could be using to buy or rent more land.
Pork producers across the country are continuing to grapple with a virus that’s killing their piglets. Experts estimate Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus has already killed about 1 million baby pigs and the disease shows no sign of abating.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.