Amy Mayer http://kcur.org en Corn Farmers Fight Rootworm Resistance http://kcur.org/post/corn-farmers-fight-rootworm-resistance <p>After a long battle with corn rootworm, Midwest farmers thought they’d found relief in genetically modified seeds engineered to produce toxins deadly to the pest. But recent research confirms what farmers have been noticing for several years: the western corn rootworm has been evolving to outwit the technology.</p> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 13:32:18 +0000 Amy Mayer 53791 at http://kcur.org Corn Farmers Fight Rootworm Resistance Bring Home The Bacon: Virus Cutting Pork Supplies http://kcur.org/post/bring-home-bacon-virus-cutting-pork-supplies <p>Bacon-loving shoppers prepare yourselves: A <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/ped-virus-continues-rip-through-hog-farms">virus that has devastated piglets</a> for nearly a year is causing lower pork supplies and higher prices.</p><p>Farmer Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill., knows firsthand what happens when porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus infects a hog barn. He walked through one in late January, pointing out the differences among litters.</p><p>“This is a PED litter. See how dirty they are?” he said, pointing to a sow whose little piglets had dirty hooves.</p> Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:57:46 +0000 Amy Mayer 52750 at http://kcur.org Bring Home The Bacon: Virus Cutting Pork Supplies Farmers Bid Farewell To Big Expense Tax Write-Offs http://kcur.org/post/farmers-bid-farewell-big-expense-tax-write-offs <p style="margin-bottom: 20px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; font-family: 'PT Sans', sans-serif;">It could be yet another sign that the good times are over.</p> Mon, 03 Mar 2014 14:20:03 +0000 Amy Mayer 52053 at http://kcur.org Farmers Play The Markets, Learn To Avoid Risk http://kcur.org/post/farmers-play-markets-learn-avoid-risk <p>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.</p> Tue, 25 Feb 2014 14:06:07 +0000 Amy Mayer 51790 at http://kcur.org Farmers Play The Markets, Learn To Avoid Risk Preliminary Data From Ag Census Shows Aging Farmers, Declining Farms http://kcur.org/post/preliminary-data-ag-census-shows-aging-farmers-declining-farms <p>The U.S. Department of Agriculture is beginning to release figures from its 2012 Census of Agriculture. An early standout in the data is the value of products being sold.</p><p>Greg Thessen, with the USDA’s agricultural statistics service, says sales figures come shining through in the preliminary data.</p><p>"The biggest thing it showed was the large increase in the market value of products that farmers sold in 2012," he said.</p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 13:10:42 +0000 Amy Mayer 51603 at http://kcur.org Making The Leap: How Niche Crops Go Mainstream http://kcur.org/post/making-leap-how-niche-crops-go-mainstream <p>In the Midwest, crop agriculture often gets divided between the major commodities – corn, soybeans and wheat – and everything else. Diverting acres away from a major commodity to an un-tested crop is risky, but sometimes agronomics and market forces meet in a sweet spot and farmers can reap the benefits of innovation.</p> Wed, 12 Feb 2014 15:28:18 +0000 Amy Mayer 51138 at http://kcur.org Making The Leap: How Niche Crops Go Mainstream Years In The Making, New Farm Bill Becomes Law http://kcur.org/post/years-making-new-farm-bill-becomes-law <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">&nbsp;&nbsp;</span>President Barak Obama signed the new farm bill into law Friday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, ending years of negotiations and wrangling.</p><p>With farm equipment, hay bales and crates of apples setting the stage, the president told the crowd that this farm bill – <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/new-farm-bill-may-be-sight">officially called the Agriculture Act of 2014</a> – will save taxpayer dollars while also offering support to farmers and ranchers. And he says that helps the whole country.</p> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 22:37:08 +0000 Amy Mayer 50959 at http://kcur.org Years In The Making, New Farm Bill Becomes Law 2014 Farm Bill Would Change U.S. Ag Policy http://kcur.org/post/2014-farm-bill-would-change-us-ag-policy <p style="margin-bottom: 12px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; font-family: 'PT Sans', sans-serif; line-height: 15px;">It’s getting so close now … Last week the U.S. Mon, 03 Feb 2014 14:05:56 +0000 Amy Mayer 50679 at http://kcur.org 2014 Farm Bill Would Change U.S. Ag Policy Pig Virus Continues To Spread, Raising Fears Of Pricier Bacon http://kcur.org/post/pig-virus-continues-spread-raising-fears-pricier-bacon Pork producers across the country are grappling with a virus that's going after piglets. Livestock economists estimate the porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED, virus has already killed about 1 million baby pigs in the U.S. since it was first found in Iowa last spring.<p>Canada <a href="http://www.opic.on.ca/images/pdfs/ONPEDNOTIFICATION.pdf">reported</a> its first case Thursday, and the disease shows no sign of abating. Sun, 26 Jan 2014 10:05:00 +0000 Amy Mayer 50278 at http://kcur.org Pig Virus Continues To Spread, Raising Fears Of Pricier Bacon Virus Continues To Rip Through Hog Farms http://kcur.org/post/virus-continues-rip-through-hog-farms-0 <p>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.</p> Tue, 21 Jan 2014 14:45:36 +0000 Amy Mayer 50047 at http://kcur.org Virus Continues To Rip Through Hog Farms As 2013 Comes To A Close, Still No Farm Bill http://kcur.org/post/2013-comes-close-still-no-farm-bill <p>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.</p><p>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.</p> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 13:55:42 +0000 Amy Mayer 49032 at http://kcur.org As 2013 Comes To A Close, Still No Farm Bill Poultry Inspection Rules In Focus On Capitol Hill http://kcur.org/post/poultry-inspection-rules-focus-capitol-hill <p style="margin-bottom: 20px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; font-family: 'PT Sans', sans-serif;">A bipartisan group of senators is pressuring the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finalize changes to the way poultry is inspected.</p> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 14:49:45 +0000 Amy Mayer 48767 at http://kcur.org Farm Bill Falls Victim To Polarization, Gridlock In Washington http://kcur.org/post/farm-bill-falls-victim-polarization-gridlock-washington <p>If it seems like Congress just can’t get the farm bill done, well … that’s because it can’t.</p><p>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 <a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/content/no-farm-bill-year#.UqoTUfRUf-s">won’t get done</a> this year. They’re pushing it off until January.</p> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 13:52:49 +0000 Amy Mayer 48405 at http://kcur.org Farm Bill Falls Victim To Polarization, Gridlock In Washington How Microbes Can Help Farmers Feed People http://kcur.org/post/how-microbes-can-help-farmers-feed-people <p>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.</p> Tue, 03 Dec 2013 14:06:08 +0000 Amy Mayer 47726 at http://kcur.org How Microbes Can Help Farmers Feed People Schools In Missouri And Kansas Spending More On Local Food http://kcur.org/post/schools-missouri-and-kansas-spending-more-local-food <p>School districts in both Kansas and Missouri spent more than ten percent of their food budget buying from local farms in the 2011-2012 school year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Census. That means efforts to fill cafeteria trays with local foods have plenty of room to grow.</p><p>Across the Midwest, most states report 25 to 50 percent of their school districts are buying from local farms, growing edible gardens or teaching nutrition—all parts of USDA’s Farm to School effort.</p> Mon, 18 Nov 2013 15:21:46 +0000 Amy Mayer 47011 at http://kcur.org Consumers Often Lost In The Middle Of Scientific Food Battles http://kcur.org/post/consumers-often-lost-middle-scientific-food-battles <p style="margin-bottom: 12px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; font-family: 'PT Sans', sans-serif; line-height: 15px;">Hot-button food issues of the day, such as the use of genetically modified organisms or the treatment of livestock, tend to pit large industries against smaller activist groups. Often, both sides will claim the science supports what they are saying. That can leave consumers, most of whom aren’t scientists, in a bit of a bind.</p> Mon, 11 Nov 2013 13:43:21 +0000 Amy Mayer 46625 at http://kcur.org Consumers Often Lost In The Middle Of Scientific Food Battles Technology Looks To Prevent Grain Bin Entrapments http://kcur.org/post/technology-looks-prevent-grain-bin-entrapments <p>Across the rural Midwest, landscapes are dotted with tall, cylindrical storage containers for grain. Some belong to commercial grain elevators, but increasingly farmers want to market their grain throughout the year so they install their own storage bins right on the farm. Maintaining the quality of that grain requires vigilance&mdash;and can present safety concerns. In particular, the risk of entrapment when a person enters a bin to check on the grain.</p> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 20:21:27 +0000 Amy Mayer 45026 at http://kcur.org Technology Looks To Prevent Grain Bin Entrapments Is There A Tilt In Pork Board-Funded Research? http://kcur.org/post/there-tilt-pork-board-funded-research <p>When a new disease &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.genesus.com/global-tech-report/pedv-quick-facts-tactics">known as PEDV</a>&nbsp;&mdash;turned up in the U.S. hog industry in May and threatened to kill whole litters of piglets, the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.pork.org/Home.aspx#.UieNKH_EoRQ">National Pork Board&nbsp;</a>quickly responded with $450,000 in research funding.</p> Thu, 10 Oct 2013 12:36:00 +0000 Amy Mayer 44988 at http://kcur.org Is There A Tilt In Pork Board-Funded Research? Expected Bumper Crop Has Price Of Corn Dropping http://kcur.org/post/expected-bumper-crop-has-price-corn-dropping <p>On a clear fall day in central Iowa, Aaron Lehman climbed into the cab of his green combine with a screwdriver to do some maintenance. He was hoping his corn had a couple more weeks to grow before harvesting because the price per bushel this fall is much lower than it has been for the past three years.</p><p>Corn farmers have been riding high prices for the last few years. But an expected bumper crop has prices falling this harvest season, and many economists expect the price of corn to drop to its lowest level in recent years.</p> Mon, 07 Oct 2013 12:52:11 +0000 Amy Mayer 44801 at http://kcur.org Expected Bumper Crop Has Price Of Corn Dropping Mysterious Exploding Manure Has Hog Owners Worried http://kcur.org/post/mysterious-exploding-manure-has-hog-owners-worried <p>Howard Hill pulls his red Chevy pick-up truck up to a barn near Union, Iowa, that houses 1,000 of his hogs. In the truck’s bed is a 55-pound bag of Rumensin 90, a common antibacterial ingredient in cattle feed that helps reduce bloating. Pigs don’t eat it. Hill brought it here to dump into the manure pit under the hogs.</p><p>Hill is among the many Midwestern pork producers who use deep pits under their barns to accumulate manure throughout the year. In the fall, after fields are harvested, the nutrient-rich slurry gets pumped out of the pits and injected into the cropland.</p> Mon, 16 Sep 2013 13:06:30 +0000 Amy Mayer 43700 at http://kcur.org Mysterious Exploding Manure Has Hog Owners Worried Congress Still Playing The Farm Bill Game http://kcur.org/post/congress-still-playing-farm-bill-game <p>The farm bill is, once again, entering a critical stretch. As was the case last year, the current law expires at the end of September. There’s no election to dissuade elected officials from tackling the major piece of agriculture and nutrition policy—but Congress does have a pretty full plate, with the crisis in Syria, immigration reform and a measure to continue funding federal government programs all set to come to a head.</p> Mon, 09 Sep 2013 12:43:37 +0000 Amy Mayer 43316 at http://kcur.org Congress Still Playing The Farm Bill Game My Farm Roots: Winning Respect http://kcur.org/post/my-farm-roots-winning-respect <p>Danelle Myer owns a small vegetable farm and like many other small farmers, she’s passionate about the kind of operation she wants to grow: a small, local business.</p><p>Myer’s farm just outside Logan, Iowa, sits in the middle of true farm country. Thousands of acres of row crops make up the landscape. Her vegetable farm is almost out of place, even though Myer is a native – she grew up on her family’s conventional farm, a quarter-acre of which she has turned into <a href="http://www.one-farm.com/">One Farm</a>.</p> Wed, 14 Aug 2013 13:24:03 +0000 Amy Mayer 41941 at http://kcur.org My Farm Roots: Winning Respect Vilsack Urges Congress To Speed Farm Bill http://kcur.org/post/vilsack-urges-congress-speed-farm-bill <p>U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was in farm country Monday continuing to push Congress to send a farm bill to President Obama’s desk.</p><p>Vilsack doesn’t consider extending the farm bill beyond the September 30 expiration a sound option.</p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 13:43:23 +0000 Amy Mayer 40673 at http://kcur.org How Prairie Plants Help Restore Farmland Soil http://kcur.org/post/how-prairie-plants-help-restore-farmland-soil <p>The world’s soil is in trouble, even in the fertile Midwest. Some experts warn that if degradation continues unchecked, topsoil could be <a href="http://world.time.com/2012/12/14/what-if-the-worlds-soil-runs-out/">gone in 60 years</a>. That has implications for agriculture and the broader environment.</p> Tue, 23 Jul 2013 12:42:01 +0000 Amy Mayer 40672 at http://kcur.org How Prairie Plants Help Restore Farmland Soil The Difficult Business Of Handing Down The Family Farm http://kcur.org/post/difficult-business-handing-down-family-farm <p>Driving out of the western Iowa town of Panora, the winding roads offer broad vistas of rolling hills. Many of the mailboxes along Redwood Road show the name Arganbright. Jim Arganbright grew up in this area, one of 10 children. He and his wife, Beverly, have eight kids.</p><p>Though Jim Arganbright farmed here his whole life, three years ago at the age of 80 he started renting his cropland to his son Tom, the only one of his children who farms full-time. Now, all Jim Arganbright has to worry about is the livestock — and he doesn’t have too much of that.</p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 10:59:00 +0000 Amy Mayer 39797 at http://kcur.org The Difficult Business Of Handing Down The Family Farm Picture This: Sustainability in Action http://kcur.org/post/picture-sustainability-action <p></p><p>If a picture is worth a thousand words, what’s a picture embedded with lots of words worth?</p><p>Quite a lot in terms of connecting with an audience, according to Douglas Gayeton, who brought his California-based&nbsp;<a href="http://www.lexiconofsustainability.com/">Lexicon of Sustainability</a>&nbsp;project to Iowa at the end of May.</p> Mon, 10 Jun 2013 06:01:00 +0000 Amy Mayer 38146 at http://kcur.org Picture This: Sustainability in Action My Farm Roots: Lessons From The Farm Crisis http://kcur.org/post/my-farm-roots-lessons-farm-crisis <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">I met Mark Kenney on his family’s farm in Nevada, Iowa, when I was working on a </span><a href="http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/taxing-complications-farmers" style="line-height: 1.5;">story about farmer taxes</a><span style="line-height: 1.5;">. He turned out to be perfect for that—a farmer with a keen interest in spreadsheets.</span></p><p><o:p></o:p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 12:27:30 +0000 Amy Mayer 37954 at http://kcur.org My Farm Roots: Lessons From The Farm Crisis Farmers, Feds Have Waning Support For Land Conservation Program http://kcur.org/post/farmers-feds-have-waning-support-land-conservation-program <p></p><p>At a basin in central Iowa’s Onion Creek Watershed, Sean McCoy pulls a state truck up near a brand-new wetland. It looks like a construction zone, with lots of bare earth.</p> Mon, 13 May 2013 06:01:00 +0000 Amy Mayer 36615 at http://kcur.org Farmers, Feds Have Waning Support For Land Conservation Program Pork Producers Root Out Market Niche With Berkshire Pigs http://kcur.org/post/pork-producers-root-out-market-niche-berkshire-pigs Raising pork can be a tough business for producers, who've lately been watching feed prices rise along with the <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/07/25/157355792/meat-producers-and-ultimately-consumers-hurt-by-drought">cost of corn</a>. That's one reason why a small but growing number of former commodity pork producers are trying their luck with specialty breeds instead. These premium pigs, raised on small farms with methods that appeal to consumers, can also fetch a premium price.<p>Take Iowa farmer Randy Hilleman. Mon, 29 Apr 2013 17:57:00 +0000 Amy Mayer 35885 at http://kcur.org Pork Producers Root Out Market Niche With Berkshire Pigs How A Niche Market Saved This Farmer's Pork Business http://kcur.org/post/how-niche-market-saved-farmers-pork-business <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">There’s more than one way to sell a pig.</span></p><p>And when the hog market plunged to 8 cents a pound in 1998, Iowa producer Randy Hilleman decided it was time to make a change. Hilleman raises Berkshire pigs, a breed that’s fattier than traditional pigs and costs a little more to raise. Back then, that was hurting him.</p><p>“If we took them into Marshalltown, [Iowa] to the big packing plant, we would get docked because they’re too fat,” Hilleman said. “What they pay on is lean, and we like to have some fat on ours.”</p> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 12:59:06 +0000 Amy Mayer 35867 at http://kcur.org How A Niche Market Saved This Farmer's Pork Business