Harvest Public Media
9:36 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Is Millet The Next Trendy Grain?

Millet, long an ingredient in birdfeed, could be the next food to capitalize on the heritage grain trend.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Heritage grains are trendy. Walk through a health food store and see packages of grains grown long before modern seed technology created hybrid varieties, grains eaten widely outside of the developed world: amaranth, sorghum, quinoa.

But there’s another grain with tremendous potential growing on the Great Plains: millet.

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Harvest Public Media
6:03 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Obamacare Could Be Tough Sell In Rural Areas

Bob Bernt and his wife, Kristine, have gone without health insurance for the last 20 years, and don’t plan on buying coverage to meet the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media


The Affordable Care Act, often called “Obamacare,” takes a big step forward Oct. 1 when new health insurance marketplaces open for enrollment. Rural families are more likely to qualify for subsidized coverage, but reaching them to sign up will be part of the challenge.

So, will farm country take advantage of new health insurance subsidies? That’s the question in Nebraska.

Almost 200,000 Nebraskans don’t have health insurance. Nearly half of them are spread across the state’s rural areas.

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Harvest Public Media
8:06 am
Mon September 16, 2013

Mysterious Exploding Manure Has Hog Owners Worried

Researchers are still trying to determine the cause of the potentially explosive foam.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

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.

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.

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Harvest Public Media
8:57 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Crop Insurance Credited For Saving Farmers, Local Economies

Federally subsidized crop insurance paid out $17.4 billion in 2012
Credit Harvest Public Media

Farmer Doug Wilson has been buying crop insurance since 1980. 

“You carry home insurance, hoping your house doesn’t burn down. We carry crop insurance, hoping our crops don’t burn down,” Wilson said on a sweltering day in mid-August as he walked among the healthy 8-foot corn stalks in one his fields in central Illinois. “But last year, they burned down — kind of literally.”

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Business & Tech
4:48 pm
Fri September 6, 2013

Blunt To Business: Invest In Science, Medicine

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt before Greater Kansas City Area Chamber of Commerce.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt says advances in medical and food science are going to be among the great challenges of the next two decades.

The state’s junior Senator  drew parallels as he spoke to the greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce in an address billed as “economic.”

The Republican Senator said medical advances go hand in hand with the agricultural economy, as the world’s food needs will double by 2050.

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Harvest Public Media
9:11 am
Thu September 5, 2013

New Fruit Fly Damaging Midwest Crops

A spotted wing drosophila rests on a raspberry.
courtesy of Timothy Baker

Shoppers hoping to buy berries, peaches and grapes at farmers markets in Missouri may be looking a little bit harder this summer due to a newly arrived pest that is damaging crops across the state.

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Herbicide Drift Threatens Midwest Vineyards

Tom Zumpfe holds a bunch of Frontenac grapes he said were stunted by herbicide drift. Zumpfe says at least half the grapes are either BBs or they’re non-existent.
Credit Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

As Midwest vineyards move in next door to longstanding fields of corn or soybeans, they don’t always make good neighbors. Occasionally, herbicides like 2,4-D drift beyond their target, and for nearby vineyards the results can be devastating.

2,4-D is a common herbicide used by farmers because it kills weeds but doesn’t kill their corn. Landscapers and golf courses use it on lawns and fairways. Highway crews often spray 2,4-D on road ditches.

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Harvest Public Media
7:41 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Farmers Look To Do More With Less Water

Sunflowers on a USDA research plot in Weld County, Colo.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The future of agriculture across the Great Plains hinges on water. Without it, nothing can grow.

Climate models and population growth paint a pretty bleak picture for water availability a few decades from now. If farmers want to stay in business, they have to figure out how to do more with less. Enter: super efficient irrigation systems.

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8:29 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Missouri Farmers Battle Thistle In Crops, Pasture

Last fall, after the drought had killed off most of the competition, the thistle took advantage of the opportunity to germinate and flourish. The weed is now hurting productivity on many Missouri farms.

Tim Schnackenberg's phone at the MU Extension office in Lawrence County has been ringing off the hook with farmers complaining about the pesky, invasive weed. It has several forms — musk and bull thistles are common here.

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Harvest Public Media
7:39 am
Mon August 5, 2013

International Demand, Competition Spurs Soybean Innovation

University of Missouri plant scientist Melissa Mitchum inspects a plant for soybean cyst nematode in her greenhouse.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts the nation’s farmers will deliver a record 3.42 billion bushels of soybeans this year. The USDA is also forecasting that this year for the first time Brazil will overtake the United States as the world’s leading producer of soybeans. That means the pressure is on American soybean farmers like Brian Flatt, 41, to eke out even more soybeans from his fields.

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Harvest Public Media
7:42 am
Fri August 2, 2013

How Secure Is The Fort Knox Of Seeds?

Seeds are kept in special aluminum-lined pouches, designed to keep out humid air, which can degrade the seeds.
Credit Grace Hood / KUNC

When unapproved genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn’t take long for accusations about how it ended up there to start flying. A flurry of initial finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Fort Collins, Colo., which housed the same strain of wheat, developed by Monsanto Corp., for about seven years up until late 2011.

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Harvest Public Media
7:42 am
Tue July 23, 2013

How Prairie Plants Help Restore Farmland Soil

What today is just a patch of weeds next to rows of soybeans, Watkins is confident will establish as prairie within three years. And that will help prevent nutrient runoff and soil erosion.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The world’s soil is in trouble, even in the fertile Midwest. Some experts warn that if degradation continues unchecked, topsoil could be gone in 60 years. That has implications for agriculture and the broader environment.

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Central Standard
9:52 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Aging Farmers

Credit Neuse Education Team / CC

Over the last few decades, the landscape and daily operations of the American farm have changed dramatically; technology, crop prices, crop technique and farm size. But one thing that has stayed the same is the individual farmers who are adapting to these techniques. Here's a startling statistic, for each farmer younger than 25, there are five who are 75 or older. And also, 25% of farmers are over the age of 65, which means retirement in the farming community is being prolonged.

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Up to Date
10:52 am
Mon June 24, 2013

Farm Bill Failure May Mean Uncertainty For Farmers

Farmer subsidies are one of the items affected by problems passing a new farm bill.
Credit Jessica Naudziunas / Harvest Public Media

Congress did not pass the new version of the farm bill last week-- but what does that really mean for farmers?

In the first part of Monday's Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with Harvest Public Media's Peggy Lowe and Jeremy Bernfeld about how this bill's failure affects farmer subsidies and food assistance. We'll also look at what happens when the current farm bill expires.

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Fri June 14, 2013

Grillers Beware: Drought Driving Beef Prices Up

Edwards Meats in Wheat Ridge, Colo., is already feeling the pinch of higher beef prices.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

If you’ve experienced sticker shock shopping for ground beef or steak recently, be prepared for an entire summer of high beef prices.

Multi-year droughts in states that produce most of the country’s beef cattle have driven up costs to historic highs. Last year, ranchers culled deep into their herds – some even liquidated all their cattle – which pushed the U.S. cattle herd to its lowest point since the 1950s.

Dry conditions this summer could cause the herd to dwindle even further. That means beef prices may continue on a steady climb, just in time for grilling season.

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Harvest Public Media
8:09 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Farmers Face 'Weather Whiplash' With Floods, Drought

The motorized growl from an idling John Deere tractor drowned out the sounds of nature on a recent morning on Chris Webber’s central Missouri family farm.

As he checked the 40 acres of muddy field he wanted to plant that day, Webber worried about getting more rain, even as he worried about the lack of it.

“The drought is over at the moment,” he said, “but in Missouri, we tend to say that in 10 days or two weeks, we can be in a drought again. That’s how fast it can get back to dry.”

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Harvest Public Media
5:00 am
Wed June 12, 2013

My Farm Roots: In Hip Brooklyn, Connecting With A Farm Past

On the Brooklyn rooftop garden she helps maintain, Missouri native Monica Johnson says she's not afraid to show her farm roots.
Abbie Fentress Swanson Harvest Public Media

Monica Johnson, 36, watered edible yellow kale flowers on a recent sunny morning at a rooftop garden in Greenpoint in Brooklyn, N.Y. Standing in front of the Manhattan skyline in her sleeveless top, shades and blond ponytail pulled back in a trucker cap, she looked part-farm girl and part-hipster.

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Harvest Public Media
10:15 am
Tue June 11, 2013

3 Takeaways From The Senate Farm Bill

Credit Harvest Public Media

The U.S. Senate approved a new comprehensive farm bill Monday, its plan for everything from food and nutrition assistance to disaster aid for livestock producers to crop insurance for farmers. But before you go popping champagne corks and celebrating the creation of five-years of agricultural policy, know this: The U.S. House has yet to weigh in.

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8:21 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Excessive Rain May Challenge Corn Growers

Soggy fields like this one in Callaway County, Mo., have delayed planting in much of the Midwest.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

It’s been a wet spring in the Midwest – and that’s got corn growers a little behind on planting.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that 91 percent of the U.S. corn crop was planted as of June 2, compared to 95 percent at the same time last year.

Iowa, the nation’s largest producer of corn, has only got 88 percent of the crop in ground. In Missouri, 86 percent.

Last year, growers in both states were done with planting by now. But besides the late planting, the abundance of water presents other challenges for farmers.

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Harvest Public Media
7:27 am
Wed June 5, 2013

My Farm Roots: Lessons From The Farm Crisis

The fifth-generation to run his family farm, Mark Kenney says the '80s farm crisis taught him lessons for today.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

I met Mark Kenney on his family’s farm in Nevada, Iowa, when I was working on a story about farmer taxes. He turned out to be perfect for that—a farmer with a keen interest in spreadsheets.

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7:35 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Smithsonian To Feature Farms And Farmers In New Exhibit

Smithsonian curator Peter Liebhold shows off some of the artifacts he's been collecting from farms all over rural America for the museum's upcoming 'American Enterprise' exhibition.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson / Harvest Public Media

Crops and cattle, soil and sweat. American agriculture has a proud history to share, a story to tell. But getting the attention of a tech-savvy nation that has mostly moved away from its farm roots has been difficult. Today, though, there is a glimmer of hope for farm fans. The plow, truth be told, looks a little lonely.

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Harvest Public Media
7:51 am
Tue May 28, 2013

People Gather In Cities All Over The World With Anti-GMO Message

Hundreds of people gathered near the State Capitol in Denver, Colo. to protest GMOs.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Protesters gathered in cities across the country Saturday to protest what they call "big agribusiness" and the prevalence of genetically modified foods.

In front of the statehouse in Denver, there was a crowd of about 500 people. The rally was organized under the banner of March Against Monsanto.

Signs have slogans like "Just Say No To GMOs" and "Keep Calm and Label On."

One of the rally’s speakers, Alan Lewis, works on ag policy for Vitamin Cottage.

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Harvest Public Media
10:28 am
Mon May 27, 2013

Amended USDA Rule Will Require More Info On Meat Labels

The USDA’s amended COOL rule will require packers and retailers to include more information on labels on beef, pork, lamb, chicken and goat meat, specifically where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered.

Currently, labels only require companies to include where the animal was born.

Companies are also now barred from commingling cuts of meat from animals of different origins, which could make it easier to trace contaminated products. The USDA estimates these labeling changes could cost more than 7,000 companies up to $192 million.

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KC Currents
5:17 pm
Sun May 26, 2013

'Boys Grow' Program Changes Lives Through Growing Food And Making Ketchup

Boys Grow members learn how to grow food and the fundamentals of owning a small business.
Beth Lipoff

  Growing and eating local food isn’t just about health for one Kansas City group. Their farm fields are fertile ground for developing responsibility and shaping young lives, and the group’s leaders hope to harvest more than just tomatoes. 

When you grow up in the city, chickens aren’t something you see every day, but 13-year-old Malek Looney is getting to know them well.

"They’ll flap their wings and make loud noises and squawk at you. And you’ll be like, 'Oh no, they're mad at something,'" says Looney.

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Harvest Public Media
12:02 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Report Questions Crop Insurance Structure

Parched ground in western Kansas
Credit Eric Durban / Harvest Public Media

Taxpayers are contributing billions more than necessary for farmers’ crop insurance, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The study, which examined the 2012 crop year, argues that big subsidies channel farmers into lavish policies that in some cases paid drought-afflicted farmers last year more than they would have earned with a good harvest.

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Up to Date
6:00 pm
Sun March 10, 2013

Effects Of An Extended Drought

The harvest of a drought-stricken Kansas cornfield in 2012.
Crazybananas - CC

Recent snowfalls brought much needed moisture to our region.  Even so, the drought of last year has not been broken.  Should it continue for months ... or even years ... what are the potential long-term effects?

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90-Mile View
6:00 am
Wed January 23, 2013

90-Mile View: Howard Blender

Cattle grazing in the Flint Hills

There are few images of the West as iconic as cattle and few people as optimistic as a cattle rancher.  Just ask Howard Blender.

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Up to Date
6:00 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Food: From Farm To Table

The American Way of Eating

Food is a major part of American culture, and the way we mass produce it has made headlines in the last few years— many of them not good.

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10:53 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Kansas May Be Unrepresented On Ag Committee

Congressman Tim Huelskamp lost his seat on the Ag Committee last week.
Associated Press/KPR

Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins says it may not be easy to get a Kansan back on the House Agriculture Committee

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2:35 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

New Reporting Series Covers 'America's Big Beef'

On Monday, Harvest Public Media launches a five-part series called "America’s Big Beef: An Industry in Transition." It's a deep dive into the big business of cattle.

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