Jeremy Bernfeld

Editor, Harvest Public Media

Jeremy Bernfeld is the editor of Harvest Public Media, based at KCUR. New to the Midwest, Jeremy joined Harvest as Multimedia Editor in 2011 from Boston where he helped build wbur.org, named the best news website in the country by the Radio Television Digital News Association. He has covered blizzards and tornadoes and the natural disaster that was the Red Sox’ 2011 season. A proud graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, Jeremy’s work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the (Falmouth, Maine) Forecaster and on NPR’s Only A Game.

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Sonny Perdue, the former Georgia governor nominated by President Donald Trump, is one step closer to becoming U.S. Secretary of Agriculture after the Senate Agriculture Committee approved his nomination Thursday.

Yet Perdue remains one step shy of the post; the full Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on his nomination. Perdue, however, is widely expected to be approved.

Roundup, the Monsanto brand name pesticide built on the chemical glyphosate, is used on farm fields and on lawns and gardens.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

After court documents unsealed Tuesday raised questions about its research methods, chemical giant Monsanto says it did not ghostwrite a 2000 study on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in its flagship pesticide Roundup.

Meat and egg labels can be crammed with claims about how animals are raised. Many are not backed by formal government definitions.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Is organic meat more humane than conventionally raised meat?

Rules that would create animal welfare standards for livestock certified as organic have been delayed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday, giving opponents new hope that they will be quashed.

Just one day after directing its researchers not to publicly share their research, and after suffering a public relations backlash, the Department of Agriculture’s main research arm has rescinded its original order, saying it “values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public…”

A researcher with the federal Agricultural Research Service studies a sample at a vault preserving genetic material in Fort Collins, Colorado.
File: Grace Hood / for Harvest Public Media

Update 1/25/2017: The Agricultural Research Service rescinded its initial directive in an email to employees Tuesday evening.

Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s main research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), received an email from the division’s chief of staff ordering them to stop publicizing their work.

Then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue visits the U.S. embassy in Uruguay in 2010.
usembassy_montevideo / Flickr

President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department, a transition official and a source close to the process confirmed to NPR.

Trump is expected to make a formal announcement on Thursday, ending a months-long process that left Agriculture Secretary as the final Cabinet post to be filled.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveils his official portrait at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2016.
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

And then there was Agriculture.

Agriculture Secretary is the only post in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet without a nominee, mystifying many in rural America and spurring worries that agriculture and rural issues will land near the end of the line among the new president’s priorities.

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who served for all 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency, announced Friday was his last day in office.

A building on Monsanto's Chesterfield, Missouri, research campus.
file: Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Shareholders of agricultural seed and chemical giant Monsanto agreed to a merger Tuesday, moving the controversial deal one-step closer to fruition.

German drug and chemical maker Bayer plans to pay shareholders $66 billion to take over Missouri-based Monsanto. That breaks down to $128 per share if the merger closes.

Cattle farmers are expected to see lower profits this year.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Profit from U.S. farms will sink to its lowest point since 2009 this year if Agriculture Department predictions are correct.

U.S. net farm income is expected to drop for the third-straight year in 2016, dropping 17.2 percent from the 2015 estimate to $66.9 billion, according to projections from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released on Wednesday.

The livestock sector is expected to be particularly hard hit.

Massive harvests of corn and soybeans have depressed prices.
file: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The current run of down times for farmers are only going to get worse, according to many farmers.

Nearly 80 percent of the 400 farmers and agricultural producers surveyed in October by Purdue University researchers said they expect bad financial times in the next year, a jump of 11 percentage points since a September survey.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton speak separately in Iowa in September.
John Pemble; Clay Masters / IPR

While the third and final presidential debate set for Wednesday evening will surely be marked by the candidates’ disagreements, a forum debating their positions on food and farm issues Wednesday morning was notable for showcasing where the nominees agree.

Farmers can expect a paycut, thanks mostly to an abundance of corn and soybeans.
File: Kathleen Masterson / Harvest Public Media

This year will be another tight one for farmers, at least if the federal government’s predictions are correct.

Farm income will sink to its lowest point since 2009, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast. The USDA expects net farm income will drop 11.5 percent to $71.5 billion this year, which would mark the third-straight year of falling income.

File: Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

Southwest Missouri native Courtney Frerichs is heading to Rio de Janeiro looking for gold.

Frerichs, who hails from Nixa, Missouri, finished second in the steeplechase at the U.S Olympic track and field trials on Thursday, good enough to earn her a ticket to the Olympics in Brazil in August.

U.S. beekeepers report losing many of their hives in recent years, thanks a to a variety of threats.
File: Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

Late spring is swarm season, the time of year when bees reproduce and find new places to build hives. Swarms of bees leave the nest, flying through the air, hovering on trees, fences and houses, searching for a new home.

Large stockpiles are driving prices lower for some of the nation's most important crops.
File: Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Kansas farmers may be facing some of toughest financial times they have experienced in three decades, largely thanks to low prices for the state’s biggest crops.

The average net farm income for farmers in the state plummeted in 2015 to just $4,568, according to a report released this week by the Kansas Farm Management Association (KFMA). The figure is less than 5 percent of the previous year’s average of $128,731.

The U.S. EPA sets the level of ethanol that oil refiners must blend into the fuel supply.
File: Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

It was clear Thursday at a public hearing on ethanol policy, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tries to thread a very tricky needle when it establishes renewable fuel plans.

The EPA in May proposed modest increases in the amount of renewable fuels it will require oil refiners to blend into the U.S. gasoline and diesel supply next year – a total of 18.8 billion gallons, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year.

Melissa Wiese / Creative Commons

Food giant General Mills is recalling millions of pounds of flour milled in Kansas City, Missouri, on suspicions that the product is contaminated by a dangerous strain of E. coli bacteria.

Thirty-eight people in 20 states have been infected in the outbreak, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ten have been hospitalized.

Missouri beef producers voted down a referendum that would have established a fund to promote Missouri beef.
File: Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

Missouri’s beef producers roundly rejected a proposal that would have forced them to pay an extra dollar for every head of cattle they sell.

Some in the beef industry wanted to add the fee to create what’s called a state beef checkoff – a fund meant to promote Missouri beef and beef research.

Nearly 75 percent of the beef producers that voted in a state referendum by mail rejected the proposal, according to the Missouri Department of Agriculture. In all, 6,568 valid ballots were returned, the department said.

Demand is growing for GMO-free labels on food products, according to the Non-GMO Project, one of the principle suppliers of the label.
File: Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

There’s a heated debate happening right now about GMOs and labels.

Big food companies like General Mills, Mars and Kellogg’s say they plan to put labels on their products that tell consumers whether or not the food contains ingredients derived from genetically engineered plants.

So what’s the big deal? What are GMO labels, and what do they tell you?

Watch the video below to get the full scoop on GMO labels.

Thanksgiving Dinner
vxla / Creative Commons

The food on your kitchen table has a fascinating story.

Cuts to the crop insurance program will again be a talking point on Capitol Hill.

The budget drafted by President Obama and released Tuesday would make cuts to the crop insurance system, allocate more funds for agricultural research and fund the summer program that provides free meals to children.

USDA / Flickr creative commons

Food safety regulators are hoping new rules will reduce the number of Americans sickened by salmonella bacteria found on the chicken they eat. Currently, salmonella is estimated to cause about 1 million illnesses a year.

Courtesy Robert DePalma

While the Tyrannosaurus rex was at the top of the food chain 66 million years ago, a team of researchers linked to the University of Kansas discovered a giant, fearsome raptor that may have given T. rex a run for its money.

Dakotaraptor, as it’s called, was 17-feet long, six-feet tall at the hips and weighed hundreds of pounds. With a 9.5-inch razor-sharp retractable claw likely used to gut or latch onto prey, it was an unbeatable hunter.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

The amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. fuel supply will go up under new rules issued Monday.

In releasing the details of the Renewable Fuel Standard, the policy that sets the amount of biofuels oil refiners must blend into the fuel supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it planned to continue to increase the proportion renewable fuels, most of which is comprised of corn ethanol.

Cody Newill / KCUR

A generation’s worth of Kansas City hopes and prayers and pleading was finally answered Sunday night in New York. The Kansas City Royals are World Series champions.

It took 30 years for the Royals to once again reach the top of the baseball mountain. Thirty years of Opening Days pregnant with promise. Thirty years of long, hot summers drifting aimlessly toward autumn.

Thirty years of disappointment turned in a flash to shock, and quickly on to joy, when in the twelfth the Royals took the championship 7-2 after a turn in the ninth when the Mets left in their starting pitcher, Matt Harvey, with more than 110 pitches.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

This is not a dream. The Kansas City Royals are headed to the World Series for the second-straight year.

Kansas City eliminated the Toronto Blue Jays four games to two, after winning Game 6 by a score of 4-3 to take the American League pennant. The team will face the New York Mets for the Major League Baseball title.

The clinching win was anything but easy.

Jeremy Bernfeld / / KCUR 89.3

Don’t ever count the Royals out.

Down three runs. Who cares?

Just nine outs to go. So what?

Facing a near-unhittable pitcher? Big deal.

A five-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning Saturday vaulted the Royals from losers to winners over the Toronto Blue Jays and rewrote with a happy ending what had looked like a lost day for the home side.

The 6-3 win means the Royals will bring a two-game lead to the north as the best-of-seven series shifts to Toronto, and that the club needs just two more wins to book their place in the World Series.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

With baseball’s top offense coming town, the Royals were hoping to hit just enough to end the game on top.

Throwing a shutout will help.

An outstanding pitching performance led the Royals to a 5-0 win Friday over the Toronto Blue Jays and allowed them to take the first game of the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

Kansas City starter Edinson Volquez fired bullets through the first five innings, allowing just one Toronto hit. Back-to-back walks to open the sixth caused trouble, but Volquez got himself out of the jam and the Royals never looked back.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

By virtue of winning the most games in the American League this season, and a win for the AL team in the All-Star Game, the Royals have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But does the potential to play more at home really give the Royals a leg-up? Isn’t that just another one of those sports myths, like the one about the team with more heart and hustle always winning?

“The home field advantage: definitely no myth,” says Jon Wertheim, executive editor of Sports Illustrated.

Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR 89.3

It just seems the Royals wouldn’t have it any other way. And now they’re headed to the American League Championship Series.

Kansas City defeated the Houston Astros Wednesday to win the decisive game in their best-of-five series.

Down in a two-run hole, the Royals rallied in a three-run fifth inning to go up 4-2 and take a lead they’d never give back.

The Toronto Blue Jays, who beat the Texas Rangers to advance Wednesday, are next up for Kansas City.

The story of the night: Royals starting pitcher Johnny Cueto.

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