Agriculture

Agriculture
7:23 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Aquaponics Brings Fish And Produce Under One Roof

At All Seasons Harvest near Cedar Falls, Iowa, lettuce, kale and herbs are grown in nutrient-rich water fertilized by tanks of farmed tilapia fish.
Credit Pat Blank / Harvest Public Media

Farmers all over the country are using hydroponic technology to grow produce indoors, year-round, in nutrient rich water. And fish farmers around the globe have figured out how to raise their catch in tanks. Now, some operations are combining the two, raising both produce and fish.

Many so-called “aquaponics” operations use the waste from fish farming to fertilize the water used in growing hydroponic produce.

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Harvest Public Media
7:42 am
Thu May 22, 2014

Iowa Egg Farm Charged In Salmonella Outbreak

Credit Pietro Izzo / Flickr--CC

The former operators of a large egg farm in Iowa have agreed to plead guilty to federal charges in connection with a major salmonella outbreak in 2010.

Federal officials have charged Austin “Jack” DeCoster, his son Peter and their company, Quality Egg, with allowing the salmonella-contaminated eggs to reach consumers. They’re also charged with mislabeling eggs and attempting to bribe a USDA inspector. More than 500 million eggs were recalled and at least 2,000 people became sick from the outbreak.

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Harvest Public Media
7:40 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Flour Milling Merger Moves Forward

Ardent Mills would control about a third of the American flour milling market.
Credit Wikimedia / CC

Federal regulators Tuesday gave the final go-ahead for two of the country’s largest flour milling companies to merge.

Food giants ConAgra and Cargill said last year they wanted to put their flour mills under one roof in a new company called Ardent Mills. But a chorus of antitrust watchdogs said the deal would further consolidate an already concentrated industry.

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Central Standard
6:00 pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Could Cannabis Return As Cash Crop?

Cannabis has two varieties. Hemp is the variety with less than 3% THC content and is used agricultural production in Canada.
Credit Edward the Bonobo / Flickr/CC

In 1942 the U.S. Department of Agriculture produced a film promoting the many uses of hemp and touted its production as part of a patriotic mission to win the war effort. But, shortly after World War II domestic production of any form of cannabis, hemp or otherwise, became prohibited. But, the legacy of this once cash crop lingers and you don't need to look far off the roads of Kansas and Missouri to find wild varieties of "ditch weed" growing.

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Harvest Public Media
9:21 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Could Hemp Be An 'Agricultural Revolution'?

These small hemp plant seedlings at Centennial Seeds’ warehouse in Lafayette, Colo., should grow into stalks more than 10-feet-high in about 50 days.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The farm bill passed earlier this year is big news for advocates of hemp. The legislation differentiates industrial hemp from its cousin, marijuana, and paves the way for research across the country on the plant.

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Harvest Public Media
7:52 am
Tue May 20, 2014

Canada Jonesing For A Piece Of American (Hemp) Pie

Canada legalized hemp in 1998 and many companies there are anxiously awaiting cultivation in the U.S. At Centennial Seeds in Colorado, growers have started planting.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.

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Food Safety
5:03 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Missouri Among States Targeted In Beef Recall

Wolverine Packing Co. has recalled 1.8 million pounds of beef due to E. Coli concerns.
Credit Courtesy of Beef Products International

The usual food safety advice applies in the latest ground beef recall: Don't order that hamburger rare.

A Michigan-based company has recalled 1.8 million pounds of ground beef earmarked for use at restaurants in four states, including Missouri, for possible E. Coli contamination.

Wolverine Packing Co. issued the recall Monday for distributors in Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio after 11 people became sick. 

Though E. Coli occurs naturally in the gut of cows, it's relatively easy to avoid, says University of Missouri food science professor Azlin Mustapha.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Mon May 19, 2014

Now Appearing: Hemp, For First Time In Decades

At Centennial Seeds in Lafayette, Colo., Ben Holmes is testing hemp varieties. Holmes made his name distributing and breeding strains of medical and recreational marijuana, but recently has become a prominent figure in Colorado’s fledgling hemp industry.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

 A handful of farmers are set to plant the country’s first hemp crop in decades, despite federal regulations that tightly restrict the plant’s cultivation.

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Agriculture
4:18 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

National Agricultural Center & Hall Of Fame To Close For Season

The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame is located in Bonner Springs, Kan.
Credit Wikimedia -- CC

 The National Agricultural Center & Hall of Fame, which is based in Bonner Springs, Kan., will be closing its doors.

The museum blames a tough economic climate for a decrease in donations and corporate support. The Ag Center, as it’s often known, says it plans to close for the rest of 2014 while it seeks more funding and charts a way forward.

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Harvest Public Media
8:25 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Farmers Taking Missouri River Flooding Worries To Court

Scott Olson of Tekamah, Neb., walks along the edge of his field that was flooded in 2011. Most of the field can be farmed, but parts may never be reclaimed after the river replaced fertile topsoil with fine, sandy silt.
Grant Gerlock Harvest Public Media

The Missouri River burst out of its banks in epic fashion three years ago. The flood covered thousands of acres of land and dredged up old debates about how the river should be run. Now, flooded landowners are suing the Army Corps of Engineers, saying the agency isn’t protecting their land.

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Harvest Public Media
2:36 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Climate Change Report: Short-Term Benefits, Long-Term Worries For Farmers

Climate change has contributed to record corn yields, but over the long term it's likely to have a negative impact on agriculture.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The White House’s new climate change report predicts threats to agriculture, including severe weather, more pests and greater demands for water and energy.

The third National Climate Assessment is a summary of the current science about the nation’s climate and how it’s changing written by a panel of expert scientists.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Tue May 6, 2014

National Geographic: 5 Steps To Feed The World

On the Vulgamore farm near Scott City, Kan., each combine can harvest up to 25 acres of wheat an hour — as well as provide real-time data on crop yields. Most of the food Americans eat is now produced on such large-scale, mechanized farms.
© George Steinmetz National Geographic

With the world’s population exploding, we’ll have many more mouths to feed in the near future. But agriculture already uses up tons of resources and land. So how can we grow more food and how can we limit its damage to the environment?

Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, wrote “A Five Step Plan to Feed the World,” in the May issue of National Geographic as an answer to those kinds of questions.

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Harvest Public Media
9:25 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Six Cool Maps From The Farm Census

Rural pockets of the country still lack internet connectivity, the agricultural census shows.

Originally published on Mon May 5, 2014 5:52 pm

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.

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Harvest Public Media
8:08 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Brazil Beef Imports Too Risky, Farmers Worry

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.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

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.

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Harvest Public Media
8:00 am
Mon May 5, 2014

Ag Census Points To Fewer U.S. Farms

Farmers raised $395 billion worth of goods in 2012, according to the latest Census of Agriculture.
Credit isnapshot / Flickr--CC

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.

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Beyond Our Borders
11:09 am
Thu May 1, 2014

In Ivanhoe, Food Helping Neighborhood Rebuild

Terry Glenn re-stocks shelves at the Harvest Learning Center Market. The store is in the basement of the church where Glenn is pastor.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / KCUR

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.”

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Harvest Public Media
9:39 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Study: Government Fails To Report Three-Quarters Of Farm Injuries

Migrant workers harvest corn on Uesugi Farms in Gilroy, Calif., last summer
Credit (Courtesy USDA)

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.

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Harvest Public Media
7:39 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Integrated Local Food System Can Grow The Market

In the kitchen at Decorah (IA) High School, Chad Elliott ladles out tomato soup. The school system sources many ingredients locally.
Amy Mayer Harvest Public Media

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.

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Harvest Public Media
7:55 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Kansas City Church Brings Local Food To Neighborhood Without Access

Local farmers want to find customers outside of the usual farmers’ markets and farm stands. At the Harvest Learning Center Market, local food purchased with food stamp benefits are matched with grant-funding.
Jeremy Bernfeld Harvest Public Media

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.

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Harvest Public Media
8:00 am
Mon April 28, 2014

Public, Private Partners Key To Local Food Success

Local university extension agents often help maintain local food systems. Teresa Wiemerslage, with Iowa State University, works with the Northeast Iowa Food and Farm Coalition.
Credit Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

As Food Corps service member Ashley Turk navigates her way through a brand-new greenhouse in the courtyard at Waukon High School in the northeast corner of Iowa, she points to a robust supply of red and green lettuce leaves growing neatly in rows.

“It’s huge,” she says. “We cut it off and it just keeps growing.”

The greenhouse lettuce is among the offerings in the school’s salad bar. And students will soon be growing carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables, Turks says.

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Harvest Public Media
9:37 am
Thu April 24, 2014

Vermont Set To Be The First State To Require GMO Labeling

Protesters in Denver rallied last summer at the state capitol, asking legislators to act on a GMO labeling rule.
Credit Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Vermont is poised to become the first state to enact mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday he plans to sign a bill passed by Vermont lawmakers that would require foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, to be labeled as having been produced with “genetic engineering.”  

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Harvest Public Media
3:25 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Study: Cellulosic Ethanol Production May Harm Climate

Biofuels made in the Midwest from corn stover, the leftovers of harvested corn plants, may be worse for global warming than gasoline in the short term, according to a recent study. It’s casting doubt on the greenhouse benefits of cellulosic ethanol.

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Agriculture
9:35 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Hog Farmers Required To Report Disease Outbreaks

The PED virus has hit hog farms all over the country and cut pork supplies.
Credit File: Peter Gray / Harvest Public Media

Hog farmers are now required to report outbreaks of certain viral diseases that have spread across the country during the past year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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Environment
8:33 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Snowy Winter Not Causing Flood Concerns On Missouri River

The Missouri River in Montana.
Credit montanatom1950 on Flickr

A long winter of brutally cold temperatures and seemingly endless snowfall led to a deep snowpack in the mountains at the headwaters of the Missouri River. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a higher risk of flooding this spring. 

2011 brought major flooding to many areas along the Missouri River. This year, the snow pack is comparable to those levels. But Kevin Low of the National Weather Service says even though the snow is starting to melt, there are a few differences this year.

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Agriculture
6:00 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Chinese Market Could Help Rid Rivers Of Invasive Asian Carp

Recently processed Asian carp hang in racks at the Two Rivers Fisheries processing plant in Wickliffe, Ky. The fishing industry hopes demand from China can both create a market for, and help rid U.S. rivers of, the invasive species.
Credit Jacob McCleland for Harvest Public Media

Water experts worried about Asian carp may have new hope. They’re turning their eyes to China, where a carp-hungry populace may be the key for stemming the tide of the invasive fish.

Asian carp are taking over U.S. waterways, including the Mississippi River and tributaries like the Illinois and Missouri Rivers, where they out-compete native fish.

In China, carp is cheap and a common meal-time fixture. Now, a carp fishing industry is springing up along carp-infested U.S. waters and processors are exporting the U.S. problem fish to Chinese diners.

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Central Standard
12:35 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Precariousness For Pollinators: Monarch Butterflies & Honeybees In Decline

Insect ecologist Chip Taylor gets up close and personal with monarch butterflies.
Credit Catherine L. Sherman and Monarch Watch

Insect ecologist Chip Taylor is a friend to both the monarch butterfly and the honeybee. He's been tracking monarchs and restoring their habitats since 1992. And he's worked with bees in French Guiana, Venezuela and Mexico.

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Harvest Public Media
4:27 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Vertical Farming: Towering Vision, Uncertain Future

This four-story meatpacking plant built in 1925 is now home to five farming operations. It’s what’s becoming known as a “vertical farm.”
Peter Gray Harvest Public Media

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.

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Harvest Public Media
8:48 am
Thu April 10, 2014

While Farm Life Changes, FFA’s Blue Jacket Stays The Same

The blue corduroy jackets sported by high schoolers in FFA have been a part of the group's brand since its founding in 1928.
Luke Runyon Harvest Public Media

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.

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Agriculture
1:42 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

Kansas Congressman Introduces Ban on GMO Labels

Anti-GMO protestors at a Denver, Colo., rally last year
Credit (Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media)

State efforts to label genetically-modified food would be outlawed under a bill unveiled by a Kansas congressman Wednesday – a plan immediately criticized as a “legislative Hail Mary” that won’t pass.

The bill by Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Wichita, would also bar the Food and Drug Administration from labeling efforts, a move highly popular with consumers, and allow so-called “natural” foods to contain bio-engineered ingredients.  

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Environment
10:27 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Genetic Mapping Gives Endangered Missouri River Pallid A Boost

A pallid sturgeon caught during a broodstock collection on the Missouri River, about 20 miles away from Liberty, Mo.
Suzanne Hogan KCUR

The Missouri River has turned into a harsh home for the pallid sturgeon — commonly known as the "Missouri River dinosaur."

The white flat-nosed fish has been on the planet for more than 70 million years, and it’s been on the federal endangered species list since 1990. But genetic research and stocking efforts are helping these ancient bottom feeder species.

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